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Five Named to VaSID All-State Softball Squad
Liberty led all Commonwealth programs, as the Lady Flames had five players named to the 2011 VaSID University Division All-State softball squad when the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) announced the teams on Thursday.
Four of Liberty's five all-state honorees were named to the second-team listing, with third baseman Ashley Bensinger spotlighting Liberty's selections by earning first-team accolades.
Liberty's second-team honorees included catcher Keely McMillon, second baseman Kelly Strickland, outfield Meredith Crisante and pitcher Katrina Johnson.
Bensinger capped off her days on Liberty Mountain with a career year, as she led the squad with a .341 batting average, to go along with six doubles, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs. She was a first-team Big South all-conference honoree and one of two Liberty players named to the NFCA all-region second team.
McMillon, a senior along with Bensinger, matched her fellow graduate by posting career numbers in 2011. The catcher ranked second on the team and fifth in the Big South with a .331 batting average to go along with six doubles, five home runs and 26 RBIs. She also earned Big South first-team honors this year for her efforts behind the plate.
Strickland became the fourth player in program history to earn Big South Player of the Year honors, sharing the conference's top accolade with fellow VaSID all-state second baseman Nichole Beall of Radford. The junior, who recently became the first player in program history to garner All-America honors, batted .324 with six doubles, 39 runs scored, 16 homes and 47 RBIs.
Crisante, a key contributor to Liberty's run at the Big South Softball Championship that led to the program's second title, was named to the league's all-tournament squad. The junior posted a .282 batting average and ranked third on the team with a career-high nine home runs and 32 RBIs.
Johnson was a workhorse for the Lady Flames in the circle, finishing her sophomore season with a 15-15 record and 16 complete games. She became the sixth pitcher in program history to log more than 200 innings in a season (210.0). She was a Big South second-team all-conference honoree and was named to the league's all-tournament team after picking up two of Liberty's four-straight wins to capture this year's league title.
The five helped Liberty finish the season with a 30-30 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big South regular season play. Following Liberty's victory over top seed Radford in the Big South Championship game, the Lady Flames advanced to the NCAA Knoxville Regional, where they squared off against No. 5 Tennessee and No. 19 Georgia Tech.
Longwood, who finished its season with a 37-13 record and was 10-2 against in-state foes in 2011, took home three of VaSID's top honors.
Utility player Brooke Short and pitcher Briana Wells of Longwood were named VaSID Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, while their head coach, Kathy Riley, was named the Commonwealth's Coach of the Year. Virginia Tech shortstop Dani Anderson took home VaSID Rookie of the Year honors, rounding out the top awards handed out by the Commonwealth's sports information organization.
2011 VaSID University Division All-State Softball Team
VaSID All-State First Team
C - Betty Rose – Virginia Tech
1B - Courtney Liddle – Virginia Tech
2B - Nichole Beall – Radford
SS - Ashley Burnham – James Madison
3B - Ashley Bensinger – Liberty
OF - Jasmine Butler – James Madison
OF - Giannina Cipolloni – Virginia
OF - Nichole Simmons - Longwood
DP/UTL - Brooke Short – Longwood
P - Jackie Jenkins – Radford
P - Briana Wells - Longwood
VaSID All-State Second Team
C - Keely McMillon - Liberty
1B - Stephanie Harris – Virginia
2B - Kelly Strickland - Liberty
SS - Dani Anderson – Virginia Tech
3B - Caitlin Sandy – James Madison
OF - Meredith Crisante – Liberty
OF - Jeanette Sauceda – Norfolk State
OF - Danielle Wright – Norfolk State
DP/UTL - Taylor Cunningham - Radford
P - Stephanie Dameron – Radford
P - Katrina Johnson – Liberty
Player of the Year
Brooke Short, Longwood
Pitcher of the Year
Briana Wells, Longwood
Rookie of the Year
Dani Anderson, Virginia Tech
Coach of the Year
Kathy Riley – Longwood