WORCESTER --- WPI junior Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) and freshman Mackenzie Phillips (Gill, MA) were major award winners as a total of six Engineers were recognized as part of the inaugural Worcester Area Softball All-Star Team.
Biney shared Co-Player of the Year accolades with Worcester State junior Sydney Despres while Phillips was tabbed as the Rookie of the Year. Nichols freshman Alexis Ferris was selected as the Pitcher of the Year. Holy Cross' Jen Lapicki and Nichols' Heather Korzec claimed Co-Coach of the Year laurels. Biney and Phillips were joined on the All-Area First Team by freshman Cassie Graca (Somerset, MA). Sophomore Renee LeClaire (Merrimack, NH) and junior RiAnna May (Westminster, CO) senior Lindsay Gurska (Revere, MA) headlined the second team.
Biney, a three-time NFCA All-New England first team honoree and All-NEWMAC selection, returned to the conference's first team after leading the league in walks (23), triples (5), stolen bases (25), stolen bases per game (0.60), runs (50) and runs per game (1.19) while boasting a perfect fielding percentage in 50 total chances. The junior also batted .370 with 17 extra base hits, 35 RBI and an OPS of 1.079. Biney enjoyed a 14-game hitting streak, including five multi-hit games and a 4-for-4 performance versus Becker, from April 9 until April 22.
Phillips, the NEWMAC Softball Rookie of the Year and All-Conference second team member boasted a 12-5 record with seven complete games, a NEWMAC-best three saves and a 2.32 ERA in 114 2/3 innings over 28 appearances. She was second overall in strikeouts with 112 and fifth in conference contests with 46. During the regular season, Phillips' ERA dropped to 1.66 and batting average against went down .16 to .215 in conference matchups. The newcomer totaled a season-best 10 strikeouts three times, including her season finale against Wheaton, a 5-1 victory, in the NEWMAC tournament.
Graca batted .373 with six extra base hits, 20 walks, 21 stolen bases, 31 RBI, 32 runs scored en route to All-NEWMAC second team honors. Her stolen base total was second in the conference and on the team while she was third overall among her conference peers in walks and was the leader with 12 in league games. Graca, who hit .373 in 22 games in the second spot on the lineup card, went on an eight-game hitting streak late in the season where she logged six of her 11 multi-hit contests including a 4-for-5 performance at Westfield State.
LeClaire, an NFCA All-New England and All-NEWMAC first teamer, was second in the NEWMAC with 16 doubles, as well as third in batting average (.445), third in RBI (37), fourth in sacrifice flies (3) and fifth in hits (49). She also paced the team with 16 doubles and a .636 slugging percentage. From March 29 through April 22, LeClaire touted a 24-game hitting streak, featuring 11 with two or more and back-to-back games with four (Becker, at Babson). The sreak led to NEWMAC Co-Athlete of the Week honors following a busy eight game stretch (April 11 to 15). Defensively, LeClaire shifted from left field to first base shortly after Spring Break and finished 170-of 172 in fielding chances and was part of a two double plays.
Gurska hit .319 with 10 extra bases, 11 walks, 22 RBI and 17 runs scored in 41 games played. The catcher led the conference with nine runners caught stealing and was successful on 213 of 214 total chances. At the plate, Gurska was excellent in the middle of April with hits in 12 consecutive games, including a 5-for-7 trip to Westfield State. She began the season by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs against Thiel (PA). The NEWMAC Athlete of the Week continued her success by batting .500 (11-for-22) with two home runs, a double, a walk, a stolen base, seven RBI and four runs scored in the Engineers' final eight games of the regular season.
May hit a career-high .351 batting and .523 slugging percentage with 11 extra base hits, 26 RBI and 27 runs in 37 games played. The junior enjoyed 10 multi-hit games and an 11 game hitting streak from March 29 through April 12. May delivered three hits in the first game versus Emerson and at Worcester State, as well as in the second game at Smith and Westfield State, and in the NEWMAC tournament versus Wellesley. The right fielder was also instrumental in securing a regular season split with Springfield by contributing on four of the last six runs in an 8-4 victory.
Initiated by Becker Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Michael Rupp, the Worcester Area Softball All-Star Team is one of five awards currently voted on by sports information directors in Worcester County, including Division I Holy Cross and Division II Assumption. The seventh installment of the Worcester Area Baseball All-Star Team, originated by Becker Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Matt Tittle, is expected to be released next week. The group also selects the Worcester Area Football Association Steve "Merc" Morris All-Star Team, founded by its namesake from Assumption 26 years ago, and the recently-revived All-Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WABCA) Teams, spearheaded by WPI Assistant Sports Information Director and WACBA Director of Communications Mark Therrien.
Complete List of Honorees (via Telegram & Gazette)