LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced the student-athletes chosen for this season’s quartet of NFCA NJCAA Division II special awards.
After leading their teams to record-breaking seasons, Louisburg College’s Brianna Tucker, who clubbed 46 home runs and Murray State College’s Alexa Hopkins, who owned the lowest ERA, were named the TUCCI/NFCA NJCAA Division II Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Additionally, Hopkins’ batterymate, Shallen Mershon captured the Diamond Sports/NFCA NJCAA Division II Catcher of the Year honor, while Katy Olive of North Iowa Area Community College collected the New Balance/NFCA NJCAA Division II Golden Shoe award.
Along with the home run numbers, Tucker led NJCAA Division II with 107 RBI and a 1.383 slugging percentage. The sophomore also batted .521 with 98 hits (3rd) and a .630 on-base percentage (4th). In helping Louisburg (63-5) obliterate their wins (never reached 50 before 2023) and wins streak records (56), while making a trip to the NJCAA DII World Series (3-2 showing) as the No. 2 seed, Tucker homered every four official at bats (188) and 5.2 plate appearances (243). She had 11 multi-homer games with three long balls against Catawba Valley and Bryant & Stratton (Va.) and 24 multi-RBI outings, knocking in seven and six against the previously-mentioned opponents and another two contests with five RBI.
Hopkins keyed Murray State (58-2) to the No. 1 overall seed and a 58-0 start, an NJCAA Division II record unbeaten streak and second longest winning stretch across NJCAA. She posted a 22-2 record (ranked tied for 8th in wins) with a 1.02 ERA and 168 strikeouts to just 21 walks over 172 innings of work. Hopkins held her opposition to a .180 batting average and surrendered just four extra-base hits (1 3B, 3 HR) in 632 at bats.
Mershon, the first-team NFCA All-America catcher, was also pivotal in the Aggies’ record-breaking season. The sophomore batted .431 with 21 doubles, 22 home runs and 65 RBI, to go along with a .531 on-base percentage and .976 slugging percentage. Her homers and slugging each ranked 14th nationally. Behind the plate, Mershon threw out 12 runners and recorded a .997 fielding percentage, committing one error in 386 chances.
Olive, a freshman shortstop for the Trojans, stole 63 bases in 64 attempts, ranking tied for third nationally. She recorded multiple steals 16 times, including a season-best four against Lake Region State and Iowa Central, while registering a trio of swipes four times. For the season, Olive batted .369 with 14 home runs and 73 runs scored in 49 games.
The awards are voted on by the elected members of the NFCA NJCAA Division II All-American Committee with two head coaches representing each of the three NJCAA Division II regions. To be eligible, a student-athlete’s head coach must be a member.
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded student-athlete awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from webinars to legal counsel, to in-person events and the National Convention.