BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – After rolling to its second consecutive 30-win season and Mountain East Conference North Division crown, the West Liberty University softball team was rewarded on Thursday with five first-team All-MEC selections and a near-sweep of the conference’s major post-season awards.
Head coach Herb Minch won his second straight MEC Coach of the Year honor while junior catcher Kat Donzella was the MEC Player of the Year and senior ace Makenzie Amend was voted MEC Pitcher of the Year. Junior outfielder Katie Beeman and sophomore pitcher Annie Paterson also earned first-team honors in the league-wide coaches’ balloting.
Minch was an easy choice as a repeat Coach of the Year honoree after leading West Liberty (30-14, 23-9) to its second straight MEC North Division title in his 23rd year at the WLU helm. The fifth 30-win season of the veteran head coach’s storied run on the hilltop was highlighted by his 500th career victory, which came at Concord on April 11 in the midst of a 12-game road winning streak. Now sitting on 518 career wins, Minch holds a sparkling 308-202 (.604) mark in conference play.
Donzella, a returning All-Region catcher from Wheeling, W.Va., started every game for the defending MEC champion Hilltoppers while putting together one of the top offensive seasons in MEC history. Finishing the regular season with an eye-popping 1.322 OPS, Donzella led the conference in Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, On-Base Average, Total Hits, Total Doubles, Total Home Runs and Total Bases – despite being moved to leadoff midway through the season to keep teams from pitching around her. An elite defensive receiver who gunned down an MEC-best 11 runners attempting to steal, Donzella committed only 2 errors in an MEC-best 428 total chances.
Amend, a returning All-MEC standout from Wheeling, W.Va., was almost untouchable in the circle for the Black and Gold. She led the MEC in winning percentage (8-1) and (ERA) while striking out 128 batters and allowing just 43 hits with 16 walks in 76 2/3 inning pitched. She gave up only 8 extra-base hits all year, led the MEC in opponents’ batting average (.157), strikeouts/inning (1.67) and hits/inning (0.56) while not allowing a run in 14 of her last 16 appearances. With 474 career strikeouts, she is closing in on becoming the first Lady Hilltopper pitcher to pass the 500-strikeout milestone.
Beeman, a returning All-MEC outfielder from Ridgeley, W.Va., started every game for the 2-time defending MEC champs while once again providing a potent left-handed bat in the middle of the WLU lineup. Beeman finished the regular season with 49 hits in 136 at-bats for a .360 batting average. She led the team and ranked No. 2 in the MEC with 34 RBIs to go along with a .401 on-base average and .522 slugging percentage.
Paterson, a sophomore pitcher from Salem, Ohio also made her presence felt offensively as a first baseman/designated player. As a pitcher, the fire-balling southpaw led the MEC with 144 strikeouts and ranked No. 2 in the conference (behind Amend) with a stingy 1.21 ERA. She hit .378 from the left side of the plate with a .527 slugging percentage and .405 on-base average, smacking out 28 hits including a pair of home runs.
The Hilltoppers are scheduled to open defense of their 2019 MEC Tournament title on Friday with a 2:30 p.m. game against West Virginia Wesleyan in Salem, Va.
2021 ALL-Mountain East Conference Team
MEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: KAT DONZELLA (WEST LIBERTY)
MEC PITCHER OF THE YEAR: MAKENZIE AMEND (WEST LIBERTY)
MEC Freshman of the Year: Autumn Thompson (W.Va. State)
MEC COACH OF THE YEAR: HERB MINCH (WEST LIBERTY)
Pos. Name School Cl. Hometown
C KAT DONZELLA WEST LIBERTY JR. WHEELING, W.VA.
1B Kennedy Cowart W.Va. Wesleyan Sr. Houston, Texas
2B Kendal Marshall Charleston Jr. Charleston, W.Va.
2B Grace Smith W.Va. Wesleyan So. Charleston, W.Va.
SS Jenna Witt Concord Sr. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
3B Karli Pinkerton Charleston Sr. Sissonville, W.Va.
UT Kiley Turner W.Va. Wesleyan Jr. Leesburg, Va.
OF KATIE BEEMAN WEST LIBERTY JR. RIDGELEY, W.VA.
OF Lauryn King W.Va. Wesleyan Sr. Chester, Va.
OF Hannah Rose Charleston Fr. New Haven, W.Va.
OF Laura Thompson Concord Jr. Prince George, Va.
P MAKENZIE AMEND WEST LIBERTY JR. WHEELING, W.VA.
P Dani Bauer Charleston So. Tallahassee, Fla.
P ANNIE PATERSON WEST LIBERTY SO. SALEM, OHIO
P Abigail O’Shields W.Va. Wesleyan So. Dagsboro, Del.
Pos. Name School Cl. Hometown
C Andie Baughman Fairmont State Sr. Aliquippa, Pa.
C Madee Rafuson W.Va. State Sr. Lakewood, Calif.
1B Emma Ruth W.Va. State Jr. Visalia, Calif.
2B Catherine Pelfrey Glenville State Jr. Marion, Ohio
SS Lilly Saucedo Davis & Elkins Fr. Chandler, Ariz.
SS Courtney Worcester Fairmont State Sr. Bloomingdale, Ill.
3B Emily Riggs Fairmont State Fr. Bridgeport, W.Va.
3B Sarah Thompson Concord Jr. Prince George, Va.
UT Courtney Moyer Fairmont State Fr. Apollo, Pa.
OF Haley McDaniel Fairmont State Jr. Fredericksburg, Va.
OF Paige Scruggs W.Va. State Sr. Hurricane, W.Va.
OF Kat Treff Frostburg State Sr. Harwood, Md.
P Caitlyn Kassay Fairmont State So. Fairview, W.Va.
P Shawna Leonard Frostburg State So. Meyersdale, Pa.
P Autumn Thompson W.Va. State Fr. Seth, W.Va.