LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Thirty-six student-athletes from 18 programs have garnered 2022 NFCA National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II All-America recognition. Additionally, Phoenix College teammates Ali Ashner and Brianna Hardy took home the Schutt Sports / NFCA Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, respectively.
Also capturing major end-of-the year awards are Laila Armstrong of Northwest Mississippi Community College as the New Balance/NFCA NJCAA DI Golden Shoe Award recipient and Murray State College’s Sabetha Sands, the Diamond Sports/NFCA NJCAA DI Catcher of the Year accolade.
Back-to-back NJCAA DII champion Phoenix College, Jones College and Louisburg College each took home four All-America honors, with all four Bears named to the first team and two Bobcat first teamers.
Copiah-Lincoln Community College earned three plaudits (one first team) with seven more programs capturing two All-America nods apiece. Of the seven, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Louisiana State University - Eunice, national runner-up Murray State College and Northwest Mississippi Community College posted both their honorees on the first team, while Kirkwood Community College had one first-team accolade.
Nine student-athletes - Hardy, Sands, Ashner (Outfield), Jones’ Lauren Lindsey (First Base), South Mountain Community College’s Kate Hogan (Second Base), Northwest Mississippi’s McKaylee Polk (Third Base), KCKCC’s Bradi Basler (Utility/Pitcher) and Phoenix’s Aubrey Chavez (Shortstop) and Teagan Dobson (DP or Utility/Non-Pitcher) - were unanimous selections on the first team.
Hardy captured her third first-team selection, collecting her other honors in 2019 and 2022. Ashner, Northwest Mississippi’s Saige Koczka (Outfield) and Jones’ Teagan Dobson (At-Large-Pitcher) each repeated as first-teamers.
First-teamers Copiah-Lincoln’s Cera Blanchard (Pitcher), Sands, Lindsey and Kirkwood’s Peggy Klingler (At-Large-Catcher) and second-team pitcher Kori Wedeking of Kirkwood are also earning their second All-America nod.
Hardy, who also captured Player of the Year in 2019 and Pitcher of the Year in 2021, led the Bears to their second straight NJCAA DII national title. The national tournament MVP was a perfect 5-0 at the tournament with five complete games and one shutout. She surpassed the 400-strikeout mark in the title game against Murray State and finished with a NJCAA DII-best 402 punchouts. Hardy amassed a 43-1 record, tops across all three divisions with a 1.17 ERA and 15 shutouts (1st) over 238.1 innings. She held her opponents to a .160 batting average (4th) and led NJCAA DII with 48 appearances and 30 complete games.
Ashner was the catalyst for the Phoenix offense, ranking second in batting average (.575), third in slugging (1.168) and third in on-base percentage (.621). She led NJCAA DII with 36 doubles and also added seven triples (9th) and 21 home runs (4th). Named the Offensive Player of the Tournament, Ashner went 11-for-17 at the dish with a pair of long balls and six RBI. In the championship game, she was 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI.
Armstrong, who tied for fifth nationally with 46 stolen bases, took home the New Balance/NFCA Golden Shoe award. The second-team NFCA outfielder was only caught twice on the season and recorded 10 multi-steal contests, including a season-best three against East Mississippi and Coahoma. On the season, she batted .408 with eight doubles, four triples and 66 runs scored.
First-team All-American Sands of Murray State was selected the Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year. Helping the Aggies to their national runner-up finish Sands hit .351 with 19 doubles, 8 home runs, 62 RBI and 52 runs scored. A strong defensive presence behind home plate, Sands was nearly perfect committing just one miscue in 383 total chances for a .997 fielding percentage, while throwing out 10 would-be base stealers.
NFCA All-Region and All-America athletes must be nominated by their NFCA-member head coach, are voted for by the coaches in their region or division, and ultimately selected by elected All-American committee members to receive this prestigious accolade. All special awards are also selected by the All-American committee members or by the entire division.
The NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded All-Region and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to a comprehensive drills database, to in-person events and a National Convention.
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