DALLAS, Texas (WBKO) --- Five Hilltoppers earned Conference USA recognition for their 2019 campaigns led by catcher Kendall Smith’s First-Team All-Conference selection. Kelsey Aikey, Shannon Plese and Jordan Vorbrink all collected Second Team honors while Kennedy Sullivan earned an All-Freshman Team nod.
“After being tabbed to finish seventh in the Preseason Poll with zero All-Conference selections, this is a true testament to how hard these athletes have worked and how well they performed,” head coach Amy Tudor shared. “I’m extremely proud of each young lady for their accomplishment.”
After earning C-USA All-Tournament Team honors as a freshman, Smith followed with a stellar sophomore campaign to become the Hilltoppers’ first first-team selection since Miranda Kramer and Larissa Franklin in 2015. Smith put up big numbers across the regular season starting with her slash line of .333/.432/.674. She leads the Hilltoppers in home runs with 12 in addition to eight doubles and a triple. She’s racked up a team-best 91 total bases on 45 hits while starting all 49 games. The Bowling Green, Ky., native’s numbers behind the plate are just as impressive as she owns 386 putouts, 29 assists and a .990 fielding percentage while throwing out eight runners and picking off another.
In the circle, Aikey became the first Hilltopper to collect any sort of All-Conference honors since the 2015 campaign as well. Aikey led the league in strikeouts (174), opposing batting average (.183), hits allowed per seven innings (4.60), strikeouts per seven innings (9.6) and saves (6). The Cedar Falls, Iowa, native is one of just three pitchers across the nation – and only in the league - with at least 14 wins and six saves. Aikey’s 2.22 overall ERA ranks second across all C-USA pitchers with 100+ innings thrown.
From the outfield, WKU saw seniors Plese and Vorbrink each earn Second-Team All-Conference USA honors after posting seasons to remember in their final campaigns. Plese racked up a .349/.429/.591 slash line while connecting for 11 doubles, two triples and seven home runs. Plese scored a team-best 38 runs off 52 hits while registering 34 RBI. The Knoxville, Tenn., native was a problem for the opposition on the bases, racking up 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts. Just as valuable in the outfield, Plese notched 56 putouts and an assist not to mention a slew of web-gem quality plays to get the Hilltoppers out of jams. A game changer for WKU Softball, Plese has started all 49 games in the outfield this season.
WKU’s second outfield honoree, Vorbrink, was just as impactful, slashing a line of .339/.456/.464 across her senior campaign. She started 44 games while notching 38 hits, 19 runs and 14 RBI. Vorbrink went a perfect 6-for-6 on the bases while posting 58 putouts and 3 assists. Like her fellow outfield selection, Vorbrink made numerous run-saving and game-ending gems across the season. In C-USA only action, Vorbrink put up a .393 batting average while fielding her position perfectly.
Coach Tudor saw the Hilltoppers earn an All-Freshman selection for the fifth-straight season with Sullivan’s honor. Sullivan made her impact felt all over the field with a 16-4 record in the circle paired with a .286 batting average. The Georgetown, Ky., native worked 124.2 innings in the circle while recording 165 strikeouts – the second most in the league behind Aikey. She closed the regular season with a 3.14 ERA, nine complete-game outings, four complete-game shutouts and a save. Opposing batters hit just .200 against the rookie. In the box, Sullivan tallied 38 hits, 22 runs scored, 11 doubles, four home runs and 30 RBI. She slashed .286/.301/.459 while fielding her position perfectly. Sullivan’s seven sacrifice flies on the season rank second across the country.