Freshman pitcher Whitney Kiihnl has been named “Freshman of the Year”. This marks the first time a Lady Bisons softball player has earned A-Sun Player of the Year honors in any category. The conference coaches and sports information directors vote on the team.
“I think it is very well-earned,” said Peck. “Whitney is very deserving.
“I feel like she is the best freshman in the conference. She really stood out and the impact on our team and our success this year has been great than any other freshman in the conference."
Kiihnl is second overall in the A-Sun in ERA (1.37), third in opponent batting average (.197), fourth in strikeouts (197), fifth in wins (16) and sixth in innings pitched (174).
Like most freshmen, Kiihnl has experienced both highs and lows this season, but she stays on an even keel emotionally.
“Whitney is very unassuming about what she does,” said Peck. “She goes out and does her business. She is one of the most humble kids I have ever been around.
“Her teammates know that game in and game out she is going to give us a chance to win. She is going to be out there giving her all every time. She has handled pressure situations all year starting with her season debut against No. 19 Louisiana –Lafayette, which was a loss, but a good outing.”
First baseman Kellie Sirus was named First Team All-Conference. She was a preseason All-Conference selection as well this season.
Sirus was A-Sun Player of the Week (April 27). Overall in the A-Sun she was first in batting average with two outs (.524), third in total bases, fourth in batting average (.411), fourth in slugging percentage (.709), fourth in doubles (14), fifth in on base percentage (.472), tied for fifth in hits (65), tied for seventh in runs (40), seventh in RBI (44) and seventh overall in A-Sun in home runs (11).
“Even if Kellie doesn’t get a hit she does so many good things for our team,” said Peck. “She rarely strikes out. She only has 10 on the year. For a player in the middle of the lineup put up the numbers she puts up from both an average and power standpoint really makes her a huge threat. “We have used her all over the field. This year she has played the most at first, but as also played time at third. She is very deserving of this honor.”
Five Lady Bisons were named to the All-Conference Second Team_ Kiihnl, catcher Mollie Mitchell, center fielder Lauren Dortwegt, shortstop Abby Keese and designated player Christen Campbell.
In addition to Sirus, Kiihnl, Mitchell, Keese and Campbell earned A-Sun Player or Pitcher of the Week honors this season.
Sirus, Dortwegt, Keese and Campbell are all juniors. The Lady Bisons do not have a senior on the team this season.
“Two years ago when those juniors were freshmen we knew they were going to be special,” said Peck. “We knew they had the potential to be great players here for us. They keep getting better and better every year.
“To see them make the All-Conference team is gratifying for me. Lexi (Myers, assistant coach) and I get to see their day-to-day progress, the hard times they go through and the tiniest of successes that they see.”
Kiihnl and Mitchell were unanimous selections for the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. Also named to the team were second baseman Courtney Billington and outfielder Caroline Mason.
“From a freshman standpoint it really makes a statement that we are not just a team that relies solely on our juniors,” said Peck. “Four of our five made the All-Freshman Team.
“I think that speaks volumes for what they have come in and been able to do early on. For Mitchell and Kiihnl to also make the All-Conference team too speaks very highly of our future. We are building a team year-in and year-out that is going to do good things. We are not here just to compete for this year and next year.”