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DENISCHUK NAMED AMERICA EAST SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR; FIVE RETRIEVERS EARN ALL-CONFERENCE ACCOLADES
Reilly Ward was one of three Retrievers to garner all-conference first team honors.
Melanie Denischuk was the only unanimous first-team selection.
Courtney O'Hara was named to the second team as well as the all-rookie team.
Jessica Griffith earned her first all-conference nods after putting together a monster senior season.
Dana Shepherd earns all-conference honors for the second year in a row.
Orono, Maine-UMBC junior first baseman Melanie Denischuk (Poway, Calif./Hugh Sutherland (Carstairs, Alberta)/Indian River CC/Auburn) was named America East Player of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday evening at its annual awards banquet. In addition, she and four of her teammates earned all-conference honors. All voting was conducted by the league’s head coaches.
Junior third baseman Reilly Ward (Olney, Md./Sherwood) and senior utility player Jessica Griffith (Linthicum, Md./Glen Burnie/Anne Arundel CC) were selected to the first team, while freshman outfielder Courtney O’Hara (
Denischuk is the first Retriever ever to win America East Player of the Year. The junior has put together one of the most impressive seasons in school and conference history. The left-handed hitting first baseman led America East in a number of statistical categories, as she smacked a school- and conference-record 22 home runs and also set new UMBC marks with 80 RBI, 153 total bases, 39 walks and an .874 slugging percentage. Her 77 hits and .556 on-base percentage are also tops in the league, and she ranks second in batting average (.440), fifth in fielding percentage (.991) and sixth in runs scored (43). She was named conference player of the week five times during the season, including four straight.
The only unanimous all-conference first team selection, Denischuk was joined on the squad by teammates Ward and Griffith, who have each had career years at the plate.
Ward is hitting .328 and ranks third in the conference with 12 home runs. The junior has also hit a league-best 17 doubles, and she ranks second in runs scored (48), RBI (52) and total bases (118) and sixth in slugging (.596). Her 65 hits are also third-best in the America East. The third baseman has played her way into the UMBC record books, as she ranks in the top 10 all-time in a number of categories, including home runs (2nd, 28), extra-base hits (3rd, 68), doubles (4th, 40), RBI (6th, 116), runs (7th, 102) and hits (9th, 158). Last season Ward earned second team all-conference honors as an outfielder.
Since becoming the everyday left fielder and second-hole hitter in the UMBC lineup, O’Hara has become one of the top freshmen in the league, earning three America East Rookie of the Week nods. She leads the conference with a .444 batting average and ranks second with a .690 slugging percentage and a .503 on-base average. She also ranks in the top 10 in runs (44), hits (56), doubles (11), triples (4) and total bases (87), and she put together a 12-game hitting streak, as well.
O’Hara is the only Retriever on the all-rookie team, but she is joined on the all-conference second team by Shepherd, who has topped her rookie campaign a year ago with even better numbers. The shortstop ranks among the conference’s best in most offensive categories, including batting average (.345), runs scored (48), hits (71), RBI (46), home runs (7) and total bases (107). Just a sophomore, she has already made her way into the top 15 all-time at UMBC in hits (134), home runs (12), extra-base hits (37) and RBI (81). An all-rookie team selection last year, Shepherd put together a team-best 20-game hitting streak this season, the third-longest in UMBC history.
The third-seeded Retrievers advance to their first-ever America East Championships and will take on second-seeded