LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Minnesota sophomore Sara Groenewegen and Dayton freshman Manda Cash were selected the final 2015 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Pitcher and Player of the Week respectively, for games played over April 27-May 3.
Groenewegen had a dominant performance in the circle and also provided help on offense as the 12th-ranked Gophers posted a 5-0 week in Big Ten play. She went 3-0 in the circle and batted .500 over the five-game stretch. The five-time 2015 Big Ten Pitcher of the Week tossed three complete-game wins, recorded a 0.95 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 22 innings of work. A native of White Rock, B.C., Groenewegen struck out 13 in a win over Wisconsin, tied a career-high with 15 strikeouts in a shutout of Purdue and then broke a school by fanning 19 batters in a second win over the Boilermakers the following day.
“I am honored for this recognition and I want to thank my teammates for their impressive play, as well,” said Groenewegen. “All week, our team played with a championship mentality because the Big Ten regular-season championship was within reach. Even though that didn't turn out in our favor, I believe playing with that type of mentality has helped prepare us for the postseason and we're excited for the Big Ten Tournament this coming weekend.”
Also contributing at the plate, Groenewegen reached base in all five games and had a 4-for-4 performance against Wisconsin that included two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored She finished the week with a 1.000 slugging percentage and .611 on-base percentage and had two multi-hit games.
“This is a great honor for both Sara and our program,” said head coach Jessica Allister. “We could not be more proud of her.”
Cash proved again why she is the best relief pitcher in the Atlantic 10 conference and if not the nation. Earning her NCAA-best eighth and ninth saves, as well as a win to improve to 10-1 this season, she led the Flyers’ pitching corps with 21 strikeouts and 0.58 ERA in 12 innings of work. Mesmerizing the La Salle batters all weekend, Cash surrendered just two hits and held the Explorers to a .053 batting average.
"This is such a huge honor to be recognized by the NFCA,” said Cash. “It's awesome to get recognized for all my hard work over the past 10 years of softball. I couldn't have gotten here without all the support along the way. I have an awesome defense behind me at Dayton and I trust them fully which makes my job a lot easier. [My coaches - Head Coach Cara LaPlaca and Pitching Coach Sarah Willis] are really good at making sure our entire pitching staff is prepared, not only before every game but also every inning. To have our team win an A-10 title is a huge accomplishment and it's an honor to me to be a part of something like this my freshman year. The championship is a reflection of the entire team and program."
With her team facing a 4-1 deficit, Cash gave UD a chance by retiring every batter but one and racking up nine strikeouts in the 6-4 comeback win in the seventh. In her final two appearances, she earned three-inning saves with seven and five strikeouts, while allowing just one run and one hit to help her team maintain their lead over the course of both games.
“Manda has been a key contributor to our team all season,” said head coach Cara LaPlaca. “She has had a significant impact on our team. Manda has embraced her role and is a true competitor. She has incredible command and her pitches are extremely deceptive. In addition, Manda is nearly unflappable and rises to any challenge."
Player of the Week
May 5 – Sara Groenewegen (Minnesota)
April 28 – Jenna Lilley (Oregon)
April 21 – Sami Fagan (Missouri)
April 14 – Yvon Minogue (South Dakota)
April 7 – Sabrina Gamboa (Western Michigan)
March 31 – Mallory Foster (UT Arlington)
March 24 – Sara Hingsberger (Weber State)
March 17 – Bianka Bell (LSU)
- Shelby Pendley (Oklahoma)
March 10 – Kacie Burnett (Idaho State)
March 3 – A.J. Andrews (LSU)
Feb. 24 – Jenna Lilley (Oregon)
Feb. 17 - Lauren Haeger (Florida)
Feb. 10 - Lindsey Stephens (Texas)
Pitcher of the Week
May 5 – Manda Cash (Dayton)
April 28 – Emma Johnson (Kent State)
April 21 – Megan Betsa (Michigan)
April 14 – Paige Parker (Oklahoma)
April 7 – Shelby Turnier (UCF)
March 31 – Shelby Turnier (UCF)
March 24 – Haley Chambers (SIU Edwardsville)
March 17 – Ally Carda (UCLA)
March 10 - Ally Carda (UCLA)
March 3 – Delanie Gourley (Florida)
Feb. 24 – Cheridan Hawkins (Oregon)
Feb. 17 - Shelby Turnier (UCF)
Feb. 10 - Miranda Kramer (Western Kentucky)