CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- For the first time since 1997, two softball standouts will share the top honor in America East as University at Albany’s Meagan Butsch (Tomball, Texas/Tomball) and University of Maine’s Alexis Souhlaris (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) were named Co-Players of the Years on Wednesday afternoon. Albany’s Leah McIntosh (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair) was tabbed Pitcher of the Year, while Boston University’s Emily Roesch (Palm Beach, Fla./Palms Beach Garden) was chosen Rookie of the Year. Stony Brook University’s Megan Bryant received Coach of the Year accolades after leading her squad to its first-ever regular-season title. The award winners and and all-conference selections were voted on by the league’s eight head coaches.
Butsch, a senior third baseman, ranked among league leaders in almost every offensive category. She batted .379, tied for fourth-best, and led the league with 14 home runs. The Great Danes’ all-time and single-season leader in that category, Butsch also was tops in America East in walks (24), ranked second in runs scored (45) and was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base chances. Tabbed the league’s Player of the Week on April 27, Butsch also stood out defensively, making just nine errors in 126 changes at the hot corner.
Souhlaris, a junior outfielder, became the second straight Black Bear to garner Player of the Year accolades. She ranked second among league leaders with a .397 average and belted a conference-high 27 extra-base hits, including 13 doubles and 12 home runs. Souhlaris, who was named America East Player of the Week on March 9, also paced the league in hits (73), runs scored (48) and slugging (.685). Additionally, she swiped 25 bases in 27 attempts and committed only three errors in 110 opportunities.
McIntosh was dominant in the circle this season. She went 18-4 with three saves in 26 appearances and threw an astounding four perfect games. The junior right-hander allowed just 77 hits in 149.1 innings, holding opponents to a .149 average, with 17 walks and 235 strikeouts (11.0 K/7 innings). A four-time America East Pitcher of the Week, McIntosh recorded a league-best 1.27 earned run average and hurled 10 shutouts.
Roesch, who started 47 games, batted .286 with four home runs and 20 runs driven in. A five-time America East Rookie of the Week, Roesch also belted eight doubles and scored 18 runs. In the field, she ranked among the league’s top middle infielders with just 12 errors in 196 chances. Roesch, who joins teammates April Setterlund and Rachel Hebert as Rookie of the Year recipients, also turned a conference-best 16 double plays at second base.
Bryant, who is in her ninth season at Stony Brook, is program’s first-ever Coach of the Year. The winningest mentor in program history, she led her team to a school-record 35 wins, its first-ever regular-season title and the top seed for the America East Championship. The Seawolves, who have a league-best six all-conference choices, lead America East in both hitting (.306 team average) and pitching (2.02 team ERA).
Joining Butsch, McIntosh and Souhlaris on the All-Conference First Team was pitcher Alyssa Struzenberg (Cooper City, Fla./Cooper City) from Stony Brook, catcher Stephanie George (Seekonk, Mass./Seekonk) from Maine, first baseman Marissa Fleury (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) from Stony Brook, second baseman Ashley Waters (Amesbury, Mass./Amesbury) from Maine, shortstop Vicki Kavitsky (Cherry Hill, N.Y./Cherry Hill East) from Stony Brook, outfielders Setterlund (Torrance, Calif./South Torrance) and Kelsi Fanelli (Audubon, N.J./Audubon) from Stony Brook, designated player Nora Militz (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows) and utility player Amanda Fefel (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville) from UMBC.
Making up the second team was pitchers Cassidi Hardy (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter) from Boston University and Jenna Balent (Conifer, Colo./Conifer) from Maine, catcher Kat Smith (Pasadena, Texas/Memorial) from Albany, first baseman Gina Mason (El Camino, Calif/Sacramento), second baseman Lauren Brummel (Hanover, Va./Hanover) from UMBC, shortstop Marissa Fleury (Auburn, Wash./Auburn Riverside) from Stony Brook), third baseman Kelly Oberto (Spring Lake Heights, N.J./Manasquan) from Stony Brook, outfielders Kristine Bill (Woodland, Calif/Woodland) from Albany, Shayne Lotito (Acton, Calif./Vasquez) from Boston University and Amanda Sais (Tustin, Calif./Tustin) from University of Hartford, designated player Kendall Blumenthal (Frederick, Md./Frederick) from Stony Brook and utility player Sandy Meadows (Huachuca City, Ariz/Buena) from Binghamton University.
Along with Roesch on the All-Rookie squad was Albany’s Katie Wambold (Hatboro, Pa./Hatboro Horsham), Binghamton’s Colleen Whitaker (Salinas, Calif./Notre Dame) and Meghan Tucker (Kirkwood, N.Y./Windsor), Boston University’s Erica Casacci (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Maine’s Ashley Kelley (Hermon, Maine/Hermon), UMBC’s Kaela Mason (Bel Air, Md./Hartford Tech) and Rebecca Bernheimer (Lewes, De./Cape Helopen), and University of Vermont’s Rebecca Heimbigner (Napa, Calif./New Technology) and Kellin Haley (Oceanside, Calif./Visa Murrieta).
Twenty-three All-Conference and All-Rookie honorees will compete for the 2009 America East Softball Championship, a double-elimination tournament, on Thursday, May 7. Top-seeded Stony Brook and fourth-seeded UMBC will meet at 1 p.m. while No. 2 Boston University and No. 3 Albany will play at 3:30 p.m. The conference champion will be crowned on Saturday, May 9, and will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Softball Championship.