LOUISVILLE, Ky. - - Four members of the Ball State softball team were selected to the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region teams as announced today by the NFCA.
For the third straight season, senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) was named to the All-Great Lakes Region First Team. Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) earned second-team accolades, while senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) and sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) were named to the third team.
“It is a great honor to have so many young ladies from our program selected to all-region teams,” Ball State head coach Tyra Perry said. “They are all tremendous athletes and are deserving of this distinction.”
A total of 392 players from 158 different programs were selected to one of the association’s 10 all-region teams which were chosen by NFCA member coaches from each region. All the honorees will now be eligible for selection to one of three 2014 NFCA Division I All-American teams, which will be announced at 5 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, May 28.
The four student-athletes honored played a large role in guiding Ball State to a 33-19 overall record in 2014. They also helped the Cardinals earn the program’s third straight Mid-American Conference regular season title, its fifth in the past six seasons, by helping guide the team to a 12-4 record in league play.
Gilbert, the three-time reigning MAC Player of the Year, became the first player in program history to earn all-region first team honors three times in a career. The NCAA Division I active career leader in home runs (75), runs batted in (246), runs scored (215) and doubles (62), Gilbert ended the 2014 season as one of only two NCAA Division I players ranked in the top 22 nationally in slugging percentage (sixth/.890), home runs per game (seventh/0.37), RBI per game (14th/1.17) and runs scored per game (22nd /1.04).
An NFCA All-America Third Team selection in 2013, Gilbert has the most home runs (19), second-highest slugging percentage (.890) and third-most RBI (61) among returning 2013 NFCA All-Americans. A four-time MAC West Division Player of the Week over the course of the 2014 season, Gilbert became the NCAA Division I career home run leader among Canadian-born players and moved to eighth on the NCAA Division I career home run list at 75. She was an ESPNW Preseason All-America First Team selection, a member of the USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List and a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.
Rager picked up All-Great Lakes Region Second Team honors for the first time in her career after ranking third on the team and fourth in the MAC with a .383 batting average, which included a league-best 19 doubles. A 2014 All-MAC First Team selection, Rager ranked seventh nationally with a 0.37 doubles-per-game average. She also finished the season with a .727 slugging percentage which ranked 47th nationally and included 10 home runs and a pair of triples. Her .473 on base percentage ranked second in the MAC, while her 43 RBI were fifth. Rager also tallied a .992 fielding percentage with just three errors in 364 chances, which ranked first among MAC players with at least 325 chances, and helped turn 15 double plays.
Bickel earned All-Great Lakes Region accolades for the second time in her career, as she was named to the region’s second team as a sophomore. A third team all-region selection this season, Bickel ranked fourth on the team and sixth in the MAC with a .369 batting average this season. An All-MAC First Team selection in 2014, she recorded 14 doubles and nine home runs on the year, including a pair of grand slams. Her 46 RBI ranked third in the league, while her 0.92 RBI-per-game average was 75th nationally. Bickel finished the season with a .988 fielding percentage at third base, committing just two errors in 165 chances, and had a hand in turning seven double plays.
Evans earned All-Great Lakes Region honors for the first time in her career after ranking first on the team, second in the MAC and 76th nationally with a .400 batting average. An All-MAC First Team selection in 2014, Evans ranked second in the MAC and 13th nationally with five triples, with all five coming in Ball State victories. Of her 60 hits this season, 36 were either infield or bunt singles. She also tallied 11 stolen bases. The Cardinals’ nine-hole batter for most of the season, Evans scored 31 runs and tallied nine RBI.
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State softball, follow the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB and @TyraPerry13/ Instagram: ballstatesb / Facebook: BallStateSoftball
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