NCAC 20th Anniversary Softball All-Decade Team Announced

NCAC 20th Anniversary Softball All-Decade Team

Wittenberg junior Norah Gillam (Canfield, OH/Canfield) and Denison’s Courtney Zollars head an impressive list of stellar athletes named to the North Coast Athletic Conference’s 20th Anniversary softball team. Gillam and Zollars together earned a combined five of the 12 yearly individual honors won by members of the 16-person squad.

Gillam, the only member of the second decade team still competing, was an All-NCAC first-team selection the past two seasons, earning Newcomer of the Year honors as a freshman in 2002. She and fellow 20th anniversary team member Beth Walters (2000-03) guided the Tigers to their first North Coast Tournament title last season. Walters, the 2003 Player of the Year, has been a first-team All-NCAC selection the past two seasons. She and Gillam lead a quintet of Tigers named to the 20th anniversary team - the most by any NCAC softball school. They are joined by infielders Carissa Clagg (1998-01) and Christy Schneider (1999-02) and pitcher Carey Oakes (1997-00). Clagg was the first NCAC softball player to be named to the all-league team four straight years. She began her career on the second team, then followed with three straight first team nods. The 1999 Newcomer of the Year, Schneider was twice selected to the all-league first team, also earning a second-team selection as a senior. Oakes finished up her softball career with two straight trips to the All-NCAC first team. She was named Pitcher of the Year as a senior in 2000.

Zollars (1999-02) twice earned Player of the Year honors, picking up the award in 2000 and 2001. She was also named Pitcher of the Year in 2001 and 2002. A three-time first-team all-league selection, Zollars and fellow 20th anniversary team member Robin Shesky (1998-01) led the Big Red to back-to-back NCAC championships in 2001 and 2002. Shesky, the 1999 Pitcher of the Year, was named to the All-NCAC first team after her sophomore and junior campaigns and also earned second-team honors as a senior. Zollars and Shesky are joined on the second decade team by Denison’s Courtney Pitt (2000-03). Pitt, who helped the Big Red to their third straight conference crown last spring, was a three-time All-NCAC honoree. She began her career on the first team as a freshman in 2000 and earned two second-team honors.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Emily Thornton (2000-03) rounds out the all-decade pitchers. Thornton is the third of three four-time All-NCAC honorees in NCAC history. She was twice named to the second team, before picking up back-to-back first team nods as a junior and senior. She was the last spring’s Pitcher of the Year. Kenyon’s Erin O’Neill (1999-02), a three-time all-conference first-team honoree, also earned second team honors as a freshman - she was the second athlete to earn all-league honors over each of her four years on the field. O’Neill is joined on the second decade team by fellow Lady Kristy Kose (1998-99), a two-time first-team pick in 1998 and ‘99.

Allegheny placed three athletes on the 20th anniversary team, two of which, Jen Lorenzen (1997-00) and Laura Fromm (1995-98), earned Player of the Year honors. Lorenzen was a three-time first-team selection; she was the 1999 Player of the Year. Fromm only played one season of conference softball, but was named to the first team and was the very first NCAC Player of the Year in 1998. Two-time All-NCAC first team member Lauren Hornish (1998-01) rounds out the Gators’ selections. Wooster and Hiram each placed one athlete on the anniversary squad. The Terriers joined the NCAC for the 2000 season. Carrie McCaughtry (1998-01) earned an all-conference first-team nod that year, as well as the next. The Fighting Scots’ Kerri Horst (2000-02) was a three-time all-conference selection.

Since the North Coast began sponsoring softball as a championship sport in 1998, three schools have claimed championships: Allegheny in 1998 and '99, followed by Wittenberg in 2000 and Denison the last three years. The NCAC held a softball tournament for the first time in 2001, which was won by the Tigers last season and by Big Red in 2001 and '02. The tournament helps determine the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

The North Coast Athletic Conference will be announcing 20th Anniversary teams in all 22 sports during the 2003-04 academic year. The NCAC was founded in 1983 and began competition in the fall of 1984. The North Coast’s commitment to equity, its broad base of athletic programs and an unwavering insistence on excellence in academics has served as a model for conferences throughout the country.

The NCAC’s 20th Anniversary teams were selected in each sport through balloting by present and former coaches and administrators. Athletes who participated in conference competition between the fall of 1993 through the spring of 2003 were eligible for selection.