LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The coaches from NJCAA Division III National Champion Rock Valley College have been selected as this year’s NFCA NJCAA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year, the Association announced on Wednesday.
Head coach Darin Monroe and first-year assistant coaches Katie Dixon, Chad Kulpa and Alyssa Novak led the Golden Eagles to a school-record 42-9 record this past season, picking up a national championship in just the program’s third NJCAA tournament appearance. In three years under Monroe, Rock Valley gone to two NJCAA tournaments — finishing sixth in 2013 — and compiled a stellar 104-39 mark.
Monroe picked up his 100th career triumph in the Golden Eagles’ 8-7 victory over College of DuPage in the Region IV championship game and then defeated defending national champion Herkimer for the second time in three days as part of a 4-0 run at the NJCAA national tournament in Rochester, Minn., that also included beating No. 1 seed Brookdale in the semifinals.
Sophomore NFCA All-America pitcher Amanda Blankenship went 3-0 at the national tournament with a 0.30 earned-run average to collect both Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Tournament honors. For the season, she compiled a 21-5 record with an 1.97 ERA, 20 complete games and 241 strikeouts in 181 innings, for an average of 9.32 strikeouts per game.
Fellow sophomore Danielle Walker, the team’s shortstop, and three freshmen — first baseman Kaytee Keefe, outfielder Katie Meyer and at-large selection Haley Love — also garnered NFCA All-America recognition to give Rock Valley a division-best five honorees.
Walker batted .503 with 24 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 82 runs batted in over 51 games, while Keefe hit .462 with 16 doubles, two homers and 48 RBI. Meyer posted a .434 average with 13 doubles, two triples, seven steals and 49 RBI, and third baseman Love hit .459 with nine doubles, six triples, eight steals and 30 RBI.
NFCA member coaches select the National Coaching Staff of the Year honorees annually in their respective college, high school or travel ball division via an online balloting process.