Headlined by its standout freshman utility player, a group of five Northern Illinois University softball players earned all-conference honors from league coaches as the Mid-American Conference announced its annual awards Wednesday.
“It’s wonderful that they were acknowledged for the good things they have done for us this year,” said NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard. “Our biggest hope is it continues to motivate them and it translates into good play in the tournament.”
“They’ve all done a great job and extremely important to us being successful. They found a way to step up for us when we needed them too and they were acknowledged for that. It’s wonderful for them.”
NIU’s Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln Calif./Lincoln), who rattled off a school-record 36-game hitting streak this season, was named the 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year, earned first-team All-MAC honors and was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team.
“Steph has been relatively unphased by being in college, by being a freshman and all those things that usually tend to catch people,” Chouinard said. “She’s stuck to her process. She’s just been incredible.”
Tofft has put her stamp on the NIU record book in her first season collegiate softball. The only Huskie to start all 51 games this season, she currently ranks in the top five in six different categories for single-season records at NIU. Her 36-game hitting streak more than doubled the previous record of 15, while her 74 hits is tied for first on the school’s single season list.
She ranks second on the school’s single season list in runs scored with 45, while her 37 RBIs ranks fifth. Nationally, Tofft is 14th in batting average (440), 34th in on-base percentage (.515) and 24th in doubles per game. Her torrid pace, which began during the non-conference season, continued into conference play. She ranks in the top five in six Mid-American Conference statistical categories including batting average, hits, runs scored and doubles.
Outfielder Dani Parrish (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield), who ranked in the top five in eight offensive categories for the Huskies, also garnered All-MAC first-team honors, while infielder Andrea Colosimo (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) and catcher Adriana Sanchez (San Fernando, Calif./Alemany) were second-team selections.
Parrish started 43 of 45 games this season, ranking in the top five on the team in eight categories. She leads the team in sacrifice bunts with nine and is second in hits with 45. Parrish ranks third in stolen bases (9), home runs (4) and total bases (63). She is also one of five Huskies with 20 or more runs scored and RBIs. During the conference season, Parrish hit .468, scored 11 runs, drove in 12 and belted three home runs, while slugging .702.
“Dani hit over .450 in conference play. No one can argue with that,” she said. “That’s a great stat for her and she did a great job.”
Colosimo, a two-time second-team All-MAC selection, finished in the top five on the team in hits (42), runs (38), doubles (8), home runs (3) and RBI (23). Her runs scored and doubles totals are both career highs. In MAC play, the senior hit .321 and was one of only three Huskies to post double-digit totals in both runs scored and RBI.
As the team’s cleanup hitter most of the season, Sanchez earned her second post-season MAC honor as she led the Huskies in home runs with seven while totaling 37 RBI. The sophomore’s 15 career home runs places her in the top five on NIU’s career home run list.
For the second-straight year, NIU boasts two players on the MAC All-Freshman Team as infielder Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) joined Tofft on the 2011 rookie squad.
Miller made her mark during the MAC season, taking advantage of every at bat. In 14 games, the freshman hit .450 with seven RBIs and five runs, while belting a pair of home runs. She led the Huskies in slugging percentage (.800) and finished second on the team in on-base percentage (.542) in conference games.
For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.