Freshman Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) grabbed a spot on the All-Conference First Team while teammates Taylor Callahan (Pendergrass, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian), Shannon Robinson (Toronto, Ontario/John Redmond), Ann Sievert (Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) and Andrea Zappia (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) landed on the Second Team when the Mid-Con announced their year-end honors Thursday night.
The five all-conference selections matched regular season champion Southern Utah for league-high honors, and Wolter was one of only two freshman to be named to the First Team.
Wotler, who began the season coming off the Crusader bench, stepped into the designated player spot full-time when right fielder Megan Carroll (Eaton Rapids, Mich./Eaton Rapids), a Second Team All-Conference star last season, went down with a season-ending injury April 1. Wolter took off one week later, breaking out with a 3-for-4 effort April 9 at IUPUI and followed that up with an explosion in the second half of the month. The freshman cranked her second home run of the season on April 18 and went yard in back-to-back games April 28 at 30 at Western Illinois. Wolter finished the year batting .318 in conference, third on the team, and set a freshman school record with four home runs, a team-best three of which came against Mid-Con opposition.
Callahan, Valpo's junior third baseman, is the team's lone repeat All-Conference player, following up last season's placement on the First Team. A terrific defensive player, Callahan also had a big year at the plate finishing second on the team with 42 hits and scoring a team-high 25 runs. Callahan finished the year batting .261 including five doubles, a team-high four triples and two homers, driving in 22 runs, second on the team, in the process.
Robinson earned her first All-Conference commendation by leading the Brown and Gold in several offensive categories and terrorizing baserunners from behind the plate. The Crusader backstop boasted a team-leading .321 batting average, including a .342 mark in conference, by stroking 51 hits, the second highest single-season total in program history. Robinson also tied a single-season school record by notching 13 doubles to go along with a pair of home runs and a team-high 24 RBI. Defensively, Robinson threw out a staggering 41.3% of runners attempting to steal and picked off another eight on the basepaths.
Sievert, Valpo's lone senior, stepped up big after Carroll's early April injury as well. Moving to the top of the batting order, Sievert hit .324 in conference play after batting only .173 through the first month of the season. A strong defensive presence in left field, the 5'10" Sievert cranked out 23 hits against the Mid-Con and was second on the team with a .380 on base percentage. Using her above-average speed, Sievert stole six bases and tripled three times, the senior also displayed some pop in 2006, hitting her first career home run at Western Illinois.
Zappia, the Crusaders' top pitcher in 2006, is also making her first appearance on the All-Conference team. The sophomore hurler doubled the program's single season saves record and led the Mid-Con with six saves, moving her career-record total in nine, five more than the existing mark. Zappia led Crusader pitchers in ERA (2.41), wins (10), appearances (45), innings (148.0), opponent batting average (.228) and strikeouts (100). Her 100 whiffs made her only the fourth pitcher in Crusader history to strikeout 100 in a season, and the first since Erin Smith fanned a school-record 139 in 1997.
Southern Utah's Marci Pratt, the league's First Team third baseman, was named Player of the Year, while Laura Chomokos of Oakland garnered Pitcher of the Year Honors. Centenary's Emerald Doria was named Freshman of the Year and Oakland Head Coach Glenn MacDonald picked up Coach of the Year honors. The Crusaders (22-30, 9-15 Mid-Con) finished the season in fifth place in the conference.