Five Redbirds Earn All-Valley Honors
May 9, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Five Illinois State softball players earned All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades Wednesday night at the annual awards banquet in Carbondale, Ill. Seniors Liz Andrews and Jordan Birch were named to the All-Valley First Team, while three other Redbirds received second-team honors.
Andrews earned her second-straight All-Valley First Team selection by leading the ISU offense this season with a .331 batting average and earned her first-career MVC Player of the Week honor April 30, following Illinois State's sweep of Creighton. The Algonquin, Ill., native led the Redbirds with 11 doubles and 24 walks, in addition to her five home runs, 22 RBI and .424 on-base percentage. In league play, Andrews posted a .350 batting average with eight doubles, 12 RBI and a .575 slugging percentage. Defensively, the senior outfielder recorded 55 putouts and five assists without committing an error.
Birch, who earned All-Valley First Team honors for the first time in her career, ended the regular season with stellar numbers inside the circle, going 21-12 with a 1.56 ERA, 10 shutouts and 209 strikeouts in 198.0 innings, all career-best marks. The Monroe, Wash., native held opposing hitters to a .204 average and issued just 37 walks in 25 complete games. A four-time MVC Pitcher of the Week this season, the senior righty led the Valley in wins and strikeouts and ranks second for earned run average and opposing batting average. In league games, Birch was 13-5 with a 1.15 ERA, six shutouts and 127 strikeouts. Earlier this season, Birch became just the second Illinois State pitcher to record 600 career strikeouts and currently ranks second on the all-time list with 617. She has struck out 10 or more batters on nine occasions this season, including a career-high 14 against Iowa at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
Hamilton, who was named to the All-Valley First Team last season and earned second-team plaudits in 2010, owns a .310 batting average, ranks second in the Valley with 11 homers and leads the Redbirds with 32 RBI and 54 hits. The Joliet, Ill., native is slugging a team-best .569 and belted eight of her home runs in conference games. The junior designated player is also a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts.
Kellar's selection was her first-career All-Valley honor, as the junior outfielder reached base safely in 21 of her last 23 regular-season to lift her batting average to .302. The Colfax, Ill., native is tied for the league lead with three triples and has legged out seven doubles. Kellar leads the Redbirds with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts and leads all ISU outfielders with 79 putouts and seven assists without committing an error.
Canopy was named to an All-Valley team for the first time in her career after hitting .310 with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 16 RBI during her sophomore campaign. The Hopedale, Ill., native led ISU by hitting .368 in Valley contests with all six of her doubles coming in league games. Canopy has drawn 22 walks and been hit by 10 pitches for a team-best .435 on-base percentage and has committed just two errors at her position at first base for a .994 fielding percentage. Earlier this season, Canopy was named the MVC Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
No. 2 seed Illinois State will open play at the State Farm MVC Softball Championship at Charlotte West Stadium in Carbondale, Ill., Friday at 2:30 p.m. The Redbirds will play No. 3 seed Drake, No. 6 seed Missouri State or No. 7 seed Bradley. The winner of the Missouri State/Bradley game will play Drake, with the victor of that contest advancing to play Illinois State in the semifinal round.
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