GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference announced its 2011 Softball All-HCAC honors recently, with DC placing Kaycee Butt, Tasha Stucke and Katie Miller on the First-Team and Marah Robinson and Shauna Bowers on the Second-Team. [All-HCAC Teams]
The group of Butt, Stucke, Miller, Robinson and Bowers helped power the Yellow Jackets to their fifth appearance in the HCAC Tournament Championship game over the eight seasons, after Defiance used a 10-4 surge down the stretch to earn the right to play for the league title. The Jackets ended just five outs shy of capturing their sixth HCAC crown and fifth NCAA Tournament bid since 2004, falling by a 6-4 margin in 12 innings in the HCAC Championship contest.
Despite the heartbreaking end to the season and a misleading 20-22 overall record, the DC softball team maintained its status as one of the most competitive programs throughout the region in recent years. Defiance battled through a grueling non-conference slate, which included five teams that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament field with a combined regular season clip of 145-48 (.751). While holding their own against the loaded non-conference slate, the Jackets excelled in league action, ending fourth in the HCAC regular season standings with a 10-6 clip.
Butt was named First-Team All-HCAC and played a major role for the Jackets in the middle of the lineup this season, as the senior first baseman batted cleanup and drove in 22 runs. The Columbus, Ohio native also set a career high and tied for the team lead with three home runs and ranked third with a .303 batting average. Butt's numbers climbed dramatically during 16 league games, hitting .409 and pacing DC with a .472 on-base clip, .636 slugging percentage and 1.108 OPS. Butt also excelled with the leather, posting a sparkling .990 fielding percentage, while leading the HCAC with 274 putouts and ending her career ranked eighth in Defiance history with 500 putouts.
Stucke earned her second straight First-Team All-HCAC award and her third All-HCAC honor in as many seasons, after posting a .343 average over 42 games started. Along with logging team highs in those two statistics, the senior shortstop and leadoff hitter batted a sweltering .482 through her first 18 games and went on to lead the Jackets with 28 runs scored, 46 hits, 60 total bases, a .427 on-base percentage, seven steals and 100 assists with the glove. Stucke's outstanding senior season cemented her status as one of the all-time greats in the Defiance softball program, as the Coldwater, Ohio native ended her collegiate career on the diamond ranked second with 95 runs scored and 358 assists, third all-time with 145 hits and eight triples, fourth with 30 doubles and top 10 with 78 RBI and 53 walks.
Miller joined Butt and Stucke in representing Defiance as First-Team All-HCAC selections, after starting 40 games and scoring 20 runs during her standout sophomore effort. The local Archbold, Ohio native blossomed under the bright lights of HCAC competition, boosting the Yellow Jacket lineup with a team-leading .426 batting average in 16 league tilts. During those contests, the left fielder also paced the Purple and Gold with 29 total bases and ranked second with 10 runs scored, a .448 on-base percentage, .537 slugging mark and .985 OPS. Miller's strong finish saw her rank fourth among all HCAC performers with 23 hits in conference play.
Like Butt and Stucke, Robinson capped her collegiate career with an All-HCAC nod. The Second-Team All-HCAC honor was the third all-conference award for Robinson, who leaves Defiance as the program's all-time leader with 18 home runs, 111 runs batted in, 106 runs scored and 177 hits in her career. The New Philadelphia, Ohio native also ranks fourth all-time in the DC softball program history with 66 walks, ninth with 25 doubles and a .346 batting average and 10th with five triples. Robinson batted .365 with 18 RBI in HCAC affairs this season and ended her final campaign with a .304 clip, 42 starts, 18 runs scored and a team-leading 31 runs knocked in.
Bowers developed into Defiance's ace in the circle during her sophomore season, earning the Second-Team All-HCAC selection after recording a 2.43 earned-run average, 12 complete games, 113 strikeouts, 12 wins and two saves. Bowers led all HCAC hurlers by appearing in 28 contests, ranked second in wins and strikeouts, fourth in ERA and fifth with a .267 average against. Despite only being midway through her promising collegiate career with the Jackets, the Delphos, Ohio native has already made a mark on the program's record book by ranking fifth with 146 strikeouts and top-10 with a 3.01 career ERA, 223 innings pitched and 18 wins.
Defiance is set to return 18 players from its 2011 squad, with the hopes of earning the fourth HCAC Championship in head coach Jodie Holava's tenure.