Conkey, Criner earn NFCA honors

Staff Report

Rio Grande's Michaela Criner fields a groundball.

Rio Grande's Michaela Criner fields a groundball.

Submitted Photos

Rio Grande's Michaela Criner (left) and Kelsey Conkey (right).

Submitted Photos

Post-season honors continue to roll in for a pair of University of Rio Grande softball standouts.

Sophomore shortstop Michaela Criner (Bremen, OH) and junior pitcher Kelsey Conley (Minford, OH) both have been named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region VI team.

Criner earned a first team selection, while Conkey was named to the second team.

The duo helped Rio Grande to a 35-13 finish, the River States Conference regular season and tournament championships and a fourth consecutive trip to the NAIA National Tournament.

Criner, the RSC Player of the Year and a first team All-American, led the country with a .534 batting average. She hit 13 home runs and drove in 49 runs, while tallying nine doubles, five triples, 58 runs scored and a .868 slugging percentage.

Conkey posted a 17-3 record in the circle, with one save, six shutouts and a 1.52 earned run average. In 128-2/3 innings, the right-hander allowed 87 hits and just 20 walks while striking out 112.

The opposition batted just .192 against Conkey.

At the plate, Conkey batted .347 with 10 home runs, 46 RBI and 15 doubles. She also finished with a .647 slugging percentage.

Marian (Ind.) University, Indiana Wesleyan University and Campbellsville (Ky.) University each placed five players on the team, while St. Francis (Ill.) University had four players recognized.

Four of Indiana Wesleyan’s honorees were named to the first team.

First team honorees from each of the NFCA’s six regions are eligible to be named to the NFCA All-America Team.

In addition to winning RSC Player of the Year honors and earning NFCA All-Region VI First-Team honors, Criner was named to the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America First Team.

Criner, a sophomore from Bremen, Ohio and a second team honoree last year, also hit safely in 46 of Rio’s 48 games this season.

Twenty-six different schools were represented on the 16-play first team and 16-player second team.

Oklahoma City University and Georgia Gwinnett College had three honorees each among the first and second teams, while national champion University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma and Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University had two recipients each.

Oklahoma City’s Jaci Smith was selected Diamond Catcher of the Year for the second consecutive season, while Niki Cook of Georgia Gwinnett was named the New Balance/NFCA Golden Shoe Award recipient.

Rio Grande’s Michaela Criner fields a groundball. Grande’s Michaela Criner fields a groundball.Submitted Photos

Rio Grande’s Michaela Criner (left) and Kelsey Conkey (right). Grande’s Michaela Criner (left) and Kelsey Conkey (right).Submitted Photos

Staff Report