BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Five members of the Western Kentucky University softball team were selected to the All-Sun Belt Conference Team as announced by the league office during Family Night Tuesday evening on the campus of Troy University.
Highlighting the awards given out was junior Emily Rousseau being named SBC Pitcher of the Year and sixth-year head coach Tyra Perry being named Coach of the Year. Rousseau’s honor is the first time that a Lady Topper has been named Pitcher of the Year after she had a breakthrough season with 22 wins in the circle, of which five of those victories came against ranked opponents. For Perry, it marks the second time that she has earned Coach of the Year, as she was given the accolade in 2009 as Co-Coach of the Year.
Joining Rousseau as a first-team selection is junior Olivia Watkins at second base and junior Kelsie Mattox as an at-large pick. Sophomore Preslie Cruce and junior Amanda Thomas were selected to the second team.
The five selections tie the most that the Lady Toppers (38-14, 20-3) have garnered, tying the five honorees selected in 2004.
Rousseau holds a 22-5 record for the season after making 33 appearances with 14 wins in league play. The Greenwood, La., native ranks in the SBC top five in nine categories while being named the league Pitcher of the Week four times. This season, Rousseau has recorded five wins against nationally-ranked opponents, including a complete-game shutout at No. 11 Missouri. She has six double-digit strikeout performances with a career-high 12 coming against Bowling Green State and South Alabama.
Watkins leads the team in batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases, as she ranks 19th nationally in stolen bases. Originally from Florence, Ala., Watkins ranks in the top 10 in the SBC in runs and hits while ranking first in stolen bases and stolen bases attempt. She leads the team with 20 multi-hit games this season, as 11 of the last 17 games she has recorded two or more hits.
Mattox earned first-team accolades after earning second-team honors last year. The outfielder ranks third on the team in doubles, runs, hits, home runs, slugging percentage and walks. A Player of the Week honoree this season, she has reached base in the last 19 games where she has hit .382 with 21 hits, including five doubles and four home runs, 12 runs and 12 RBI while walking eight times and getting hit by two pitches. The Alpharetta, Ga., native has nine multi-hit and eight multi-RBI games this season.
Earning second-team honors for the second year in a row, Cruce leads the team in triples and hit by pitches while second on the team in batting average, hits, runs, home runs and on-base percentage. The Empire, Ala., product ranks 34th nationally in hit by pitch per game while ranking in the top 10 in the SBC in four categories. Cruce was named to last season’s SBC All-Tournament team.
After becoming WKU’s all-time home run leader this season, Thomas earned her first all-conference honor, as she led the team in home runs, RBI, walks, slugging percentage and sacrifice flies. Thomas ranks in the top 100 nationally in four categories, including top 70 in RBI per game and home runs, Thomas has been named Player of the Week two times in her career while also earning a SBC All-Tournament selection two seasons ago.
Perry’s second Coach of the Year selection comes after guiding the 2013 squad to a school record 38 wins and becoming WKU’s all-time winningest coach. Under her watch, WKU won its first regular-season championship in the conference on its way to the most league wins in program history.