(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – On Wednesday, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference announced their 2018 softball all-conference selections headlined by Montana State University Billings’ Heather Tracy as the GNAC Player of the Year. The Yellowjackets had four other players selected for all-league recognition including Cameron Cassinelli who joined Tracy on the first team. Megan Dettling was named a second-team selection while Maddy Lincoln and Brittanee Fisher were named honorable mention.
With her player of the year status, Tracy becomes the second player in MSUB-history to claim the honor after Taylor Hoke was named co-player of the year in 2015. This is the third consecutive season that Tracy has been named first-team all-GNAC, making her the second Yellowjacket to achieve that feat as well.
“Heather was huge for us this season,” head coach Jessica Rayman said of Tracy’s contributions to the ‘Jackets. “She is very consistent at the plate. She is a competitor, she hates to lose and she finds a way to get on base. People in the conference feared throwing to her.”
The MSUB right fielder led the conference in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, total bases and at-bats while playing all 47 games this season. She set an MSUB-record with 22 stolen bases and tied her record for hits in a season with 82. Her .488 batting average is the best in any season by a Yellowjacket and she finishes her career with a .426 batting average that ranks fourth in GNAC history. Her 270 hits are the seventh-most in a GNAC career.
Fellow first-teamer, Cameron Cassinelli is also receiving her third all-conference billing after being named to the second team as a sophomore and junior. The first baseman hit 10 home runs this season with 35 RBI and a .664 slugging percentage. She added seven doubles and 21 runs on 44 hits this season.
“Cam was clutch for us all season with runners in scoring position,” Rayman added. “When the game is on the line, she is someone you want at the plate. Power wise, she has done a great job creating offense for us over the two years that I’ve been here.”
A four-year slugger, Cassinelli finishes her career as the Yellowjackets all-time leader with 40 home runs and 156 runs batted in.
While pitching and playing designated player, Megan Dettling led the Yellowjackets in RBI as a senior with 36. Earning second-team all-GNAC as a designated player, Dettling hit .309 with eight home runs. Dettling slugged .497 with a .338 on-base percentage. The senior also pitched 111.1 innings this season finishing with an 8-5 record and a 4.40 ERA.
“Defensively and offensively, Megs stepped up in some big spots for us,” Rayman said of the two-way standout. “The team always managed to play well behind her in the circle. I think her senior leadership had a big impact on the team when she was locked in. She is deserving at the designated player spot because she is such a strong bat in a lineup.”
Both Yellowjackets named honorable mention are underclassmen in sophomore Maddy Lincoln and freshman Brittanee Fisher. Lincoln pitched the second-most innings in the conference this season while striking out 102 batters and compiling 12 wins. She started a league-high 25 games in her second season with the ‘Jackets and finished with a 3.20 ERA.
“I think Maddy is going to be ready to lead from the circle for us now that she is a junior,” Rayman said of the left-hander. “She has two years where she has had a lot of opportunity and experience so I expect her to be that leader and that tone-setter all the time. She was more consistent this season and she should be even more consistent next season. I think Maddy will do a great job in the next two years. Her growth from a freshman to a sophomore has been outstanding and she is going to continue to get better.”
A Billings native, Fisher was a force at the plate in her first collegiate season. She led the conference with 11 home runs while driving in 30 runs this season. She hit .311 in 106 plate appearances while drawing 14 walks. The first baseman slugged .651 with a .402 on-base percentage and scored 18 runs.
“To hit 11 home runs your freshman year is special,” Rayman noted about the freshman’s power numbers. “Britt has the power and she will be feared in the conference. Teams know about her now so she will have to keep working on her approach and fine tuning her game. I am excited to have her in that clean-up spot and to see what she will do in the coming years.”
Northwest Nazarene swept the four special awards with the coach of the year Rich Wagner, pitcher and freshman of the year in Jordan Adams and newcomer of the year Anna Williams. NNU and Central Washington each earned a share of the conference title with 19-9 league records while the Yellowjackets finished fifth with a 13-13 mark in conference.