TWU softball claims Lone Star crown

by BoCarter | Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

twu-softball-2013-champs

DENTON — In a week of ultimate highs and lowest lows, Texas Woman’s softball emerged with the second Lone Star Conference title (along with 2011 basketball postseason) in school history and enters Friday’s LSC postseason championship in Canyon, Texas, at 43-12 overall and a conference-tops 21-6 (school record for circuit triumphs).

Summing up the somewhat arduous season after the passing of 2011 and ‘12 TWU inspirational standout Abby Burns from leukemia April 22, Bruister evoked a Higher Power in explaining the emotional ride that was April 22-28.

“I want to thank the Good Lord for watching over this team, the coaches and families,” observed the 2013 LSC Coach of the Year. “There’s no doubt He was involved in so many things, and Abby was just such an inspiration to all of us with her courage.”

Bruister also cited the efforts of four seniors – Larisa Garcia, Karissa Hartwig, Lizzy Kelly, and Jordan Readicker – for an amazing run and probable third NCAA bid in four seasons – another first in TWU softball annals.

“These seniors helped us accomplish so much from sweeping West Texas A&M on the final day of the season for the championship to helping lead a fairly-young team by their example,” he continued. “This was a team effort all the way, and the sky is the limit in postseason.”

That aspect begins Friday at 7 p.m. when the Pioneers take on Cameron in a No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed opening round match of the single-elimination LSC championship. Cameron closed the slated campaign at 17-30 overall and 10-17 in loop play as the final team to make the eight-school field.

And the Pioneers will be entering the tourney with a boatload of honors.

Bruister guided the team to just its fourth 40-win season in history and the most vistories since the 2004 campaign. The former Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 at Henderson State (where he guided the Lady Reddies to 163 wins over five seasons from 2004-08 in a major rebuilding effort) goes to Canyon with an all-time mark of 175-95 in five years at TWU and 338-188 over 10 years. TWU also equaled a school record by climbing as high as No. 7 nationally in NCAA Division II polls. The 1999 Mississippi State graduate (masters in 2000) and native of Brandon, Miss., may receive consideration for National Coach of the Year with additional postseason success.

His team received similar kudos as UT Katie Hines of Beaumont was 2013 LSC Player of the Year, junior Brandie Lander of Gun Barrel City was both LSC Pitcher of the Year and Co-Newcomer of the Year. Hines, Lander, 3B Readicker of Grapevine, and All-America SS Bailey Vrazel of Danbury earned first team All-LSU laurels. Larisa Garcia of New Braunfels, OF Haley Colwell of Sadler, and 1B Kendra Sancet of Magnolia earned second team laurels. 2B Sarah Wittenburg of Dripping Springs was a third team All-LSC choice.

Hines tops the conference in home runs (23), RBI (74) and total bases (158) along with a .409 batting average, .898 slugging percentage (.898), 17 doubles, 72 hits, and a .493 on-base percentage – all among the Top 10 in LSC individual hitting categories. Hines also entered the week No. 1 in NCAA DII in home runs and fourth in RBI. She has 22 pitching appearances with a 10-3 record and 3.09 ERA as a two-time all-conference maker.

Lander is No. 1 in all-games’ ERA in the in LSC at 1.97. She paces the Pioneers with 134 strikeouts, 14 complete games, three saves, and a 19-6 record. She also limited opponents to a .242 batting average in 32 appearances with 22 starts.

Readicker has started all 55 games at third base and is hitting .371 with a .760 slugging percentage and .455 on base percentage. She smashed 19 homers with 54 RBI and is TWU’s career leader in both stats with 47 and 162, respectively, since 2010.

Vrazel, who led the nation in both softball and baseball with 75 stolen bases in 77 attempts last season, is No. 1 in the LSC in 2013 with 80 hits and 48 stolen bases prior to postseason. TWU’s first softball All-America choice is the current squad leader with 57 runs and six triples while batting .396 – second to Hines. She is No. 1 all-time for both TWU and LSC with 197 stolen bases, has been first team All-LSC three consecutive years and won the coveted Fred Jacoby Award for top academic and on-field honors for all LSC women’s sports in 2011-12.

Garcia started 20 of the 27 games in which she appeared, is 14-1, has a 2.47 ERA and 85 strikeouts. She has nine complete games and tops the team with a .221 batting average allowed to opponets. Garcia also holds TWU career record for saves with nine.

Colwell is second team-wide with 18 stolen bases to complement a .385 average with six homers and 39 RBI along with a .587 slugging percentage. Sancet is hitting .303 and third on the Pioneers with 10 dingers, 41 RBI and 14 doubles. She is slugging close to .600 at .570.

Wittenburg bats .318 batting average with 15 RBI as the the junior standout starts the week leading NCAA Division II with a school-record 25 hit by pitches, squad-high .513 on-base percentage and won the coveted 2013 Golden Cast Award by the TWU training staff for some of the hardest work in recuperating from injuries.

Senior left fielder Lizzy Kelly (.324-4 HR-33 RBI) of Waco and Readicker received 2013 Lone Star Conference Golden Glove Awards at their respective positions. Kelly did not make an error in 66 chances (62 putouts, four assists) for a 1.000 fielding percentage while Readicker made just six errors overall at the hot corner and just one miscue in LSC activity.

As TWU preps for the 2013 LSC joust, the entire tourney Friday-Sunday will be webstreamed via a free live broadcast on
foxsportssouthwest.com.

2013 LSC Championship Schedule
Schaeffer Park, Canyon, Texas (hosted by West Texas A&M)
Friday, May 3
No. 3 Angelo State vs. No. 6 Incarnate Word, 11:30 a.m.
No. 2 West Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Abilene Christian, 2 p.m.
No. 4 Midwestern State vs. No. 5 Tarleton State, 4:30 p.m.
No. 1 Texas Woman’s vs. No. 8 Cameron, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
3-6 winner vs. 2-7 winner, 12 p.m.
4-5 winner vs. 1-8 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 5
Championship, 1 p.m.

Additional TWU Athletics Honors for 2012-13:
Jo Kuhn Leadership Award – Katie Hines, utility player, softball
Co-Kitty Magee Award for Dedication – Sara Grunert, gymnastics; Hayley Summers, volleyball
Dianne Baker Intensity Award – Viktorija Jablonska, volleyball
Dr. Betsy Tandy Endowed Scholarship – Margaret Mayfield, gymnastics
Golden Cast Award for Hardest Rehab Work Presented by TWU Training Staff – Sarah Wittenburg, softball
Volleyball MVP and Outstanding Athlete – Jablonska
Gymnastics Outstanding Gymnast and Athlete of the Year – Bethany Larimer
Soccer Outstanding Athlete – Brittany Martin
Basketball Outstanding Athlete – Taylor Swift
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