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Release  Bill Potter · @ ·

INDIANAPOLIS -- Youngstown State senior outfielder Haley Thomas was named the Horizon League Softball Player of the Year, becoming the first Penguin to collect the honor since 2003. League champion Valparaiso placed four players on the All-League First Team, in voting of the League’s coaches.

Among those was League Newcomer of the Year Brittany Duncan, who was a near-unanimous choice to fill the First Team designated player slot. The freshman leads the Horizon League in both batting average (.471) and RBI (31) in conference play.

Loyola’s Brittany Gardner, the 2011 Newcomer of the Year, was tabbed the League’s Pitcher of the Year after going 10-4 with a League-best 1.59 ERA in 15 conference games. Gardner struck out 115 batters in 92.1 innings of work in League play.

Youngstown State’s Brian Campbell was voted the Horizon League Coach of the Year after guiding the Penguins to a 12-10 mark in League play and a 28-19-1 overall record. The Penguins’ fourth-place finish in the League is the program’s best since the 2004 season.

Thomas rewrote the Youngstown State record books in her senior season, hitting a League-best .440 and tying the Penguins’ all-time hits record, collecting 70 this season to land on 231 for her career. Thomas’ 1.214 OPS was third in the League.

Valparaiso, who posted a 19-5 League record en route to the No. 1 seed, placed four players on the All-League First Team, with catcher Jordan Rutkowski, third basemann Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry and pitcher Alex Lagesse joining Duncan on the squad.

Loyola, Butler and Youngstown State all placed two players on the first team, with Ramblers outfielder Brooke Andresen partnering with Gardner. Butler teammates Lauren McNulty and Meaghan Sullivan each earned a place on the team, while Jordan Ingalls joined Thomas on the first team. UIC’s Melissa Preish and Cleveland State’s Dara Toman rounded out the squad.

The regular season champion, Valparaiso earned the right to host the Horizon League Softball Championship, which will begin on Wednesday, May 9. The Horizon League Network will bring fans the action across all four days, culminating with the League championship game on May 12.  

2012 Horizon League Softball Awards
Player of the Year: Haley Thomas, Youngstown State               
Newcomer of the Year: Brittany Duncan, Valparaiso  
Pitcher of the Year: Brittany Gardner, Loyola
Coach of the Year: Brian Campbell, Youngstown State            

All-League First Team
Haley Thomas, Youngstown State
Jordan Rutkowski, Valparaiso
Jordan Ingalls, Youngstown State
Dara Toman, Cleveland State
Melissa Preish, UIC
Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry, Valparaiso
Lauren McNulty, Butler
Brooke Andresen, Loyola
Meaghan Sullivan, Butler
Brittany Duncan, Valparaiso (DP)
Brittany Gardner, Loyola (P)
Alex Lagesse, Valparaiso (P)

All-League Second Team
Lauren Arceneaux, Loyola
Melinda Macias, UIC
Annie Korth, Loyola
Vicky Rumph, Youngstown State
Miranda Reinke, Green Bay
Jessica Balzano, Loyola
Coryn Schmit, UIC
Kristi Boreing, Wright State
Jessie Marinec, Valparaiso
Sara Shields, Cleveland State (DP)
Krystian DeWitt, Wright State (P)
Alli Goecks, Green Bay (P)

All-Newcomer Team
Brittany Duncan, Valparaiso
Sara Shields, Cleveland State
Kristen Boros, Butler
Jessica Balzano, Loyola
Annie Korth, Loyola
Kayla Haslett, Youngstown State
Haley Mohrfeld, Green Bay
Nena Doran, Cleveland State
Jess Gorman, Wright State

Tags: Butler - Softball · Cleveland State - Softball · Detroit - Softball · Green Bay - Softball · Horizon League - Softball · Loyola - Softball · UIC - Softball · Valparaiso - Softball · Wright State - Softball · Youngstown State - Softball
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