LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced the players chosen for this season’s quartet of NFCA NJCAA Division III special awards.
Three of the honorees are members of Rock Valley College’s seven-time reigning national champion squad, while the other plays for Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division titlist Anoka-Ramsey Community College. All four were announced last week as 2021 NFCA NJCAA Division III All-Americans.
Ashton Melaas and Kelli Riordan gave Rock Valley a sweep of the Schutt Sports/NFCA National Pitcher and Player of the Year awards, while their Golden Eagle teammate Jenna Green is the Diamond Sports/NFCA Catcher of the Year honoree. Speedy Anoka-Ramsey outfielder Emma Bright scored New Balance/NFCA Golden Shoe recognition.
Sophomore Melaas anchored the Rock Valley staff with a 19-3 record, 2.42 ERA, 10 complete games, a save, 170 strikeouts and 52 walks over 133 innings of action to win the inaugural Pitcher of the Year honor. The Hononegah High graduate ranked third nationally in wins and strikeouts, fourth in games started (23), sixth in innings pitched and strikeouts per game (8.95), seventh in saves, walks and batting average against (.206), and 10th in ERA.
Freshman Riordan hit .466 with 75 runs, 25 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 65 RBI, plus 30 walks in 57 games for the Golden Eagles. The Lockport, Ill., native ranked first nationally in seven categories — games played, walks, plate appearances (210), at-bats (178), hits (83), total bases (139) and assists (86) — and second in runs, doubles and RBI.
Rock Valley freshman Jenna Green batted .424 with 40 runs, 15 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 50 RBI, and made just two errors in 204 chances across 45 games behind the plate. The Eastland, Ill., native ranked second nationally in putouts (190), third in total chances (204), seventh in walks (24) and ninth in both doubles and plate appearances (161).
Bright went a perfect 42-for-42 on steal attempts this season, and the freshman was also by far the Golden Rams’ best hitter at .610 — more than 130 points better than her closest teammate — to rank second nationally. The Anoka, Minn., native scored 46 runs and had nine doubles, two homers and 15 RBI. Her seven triples ranked second nationally and her 61 hits were 11th in the country.
Brookdale Community College third baseman Shakyra Moore was the inaugural Schutt Sports/NFCA NJCAA Division III Player of the Year in 2019. The award was split into separate Player and Pitcher of the Year honors in 2021. No awards were presented last year due to COVID-19.
NFCA All-Region and All-American athletes must be nominated by their NFCA-member head coach and are voted for by the coaches in their region or division. These honorees are in the top 1% of student-athletes competing during the 2021 season. All special awards are also selected by the All-American committee members or by the entire division.