LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) --- For just the third time in WKU Softball history, the program saw two Hilltoppers land National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region Team honors, the organization announced Thursday. Kennedy Sullivan earned Second-Team status in the utility/pitcher slot while Kendall Smith collected Third-Team recognition behind the plate. The pair mark the 10th and 11th NFCA All-Region selections in program history.
“What a great, well-deserving honor and recognition for both athletes,” head coach Amy Tudor shared. “Both were big contributors at the plate as well as in the circle and behind the plate. They are great to coach and an integral part of our success. I am very proud of them.”
Sullivan’s accolade makes her the second-ever Hilltopper rookie to earn All-Region honors after Jordan Thomas earned Third-Team status in 2018.
Sullivan also earned All-Freshman Team status from Conference USA after a dominant rookie campaign in the circle and at the plate. The Georgetown, Ky., native finished with a 16-4 record across 124.2 innings pitched in 2019 while ranking second among all league pitchers in strikeouts with 165. She registered a 3.14 ERA while holding opposing batters to an average of .200. She made her impact felt immediately, recording a complete-game shutout in her collegiate debut, a no-hitter in her seventh start and outings with 16 and 17 strikeouts. At the plate, Sullivan slashed .281/.297.452 while posting 38 hits – 11 doubles and four home runs. She finished with 12 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI outings.
Behind the plate, Smith was honored as a First-Team All-Conference USA selection and has followed it up with an All-Region selection in her sophomore season on The Hill. Smith slashed .321/.423/.650 across the campaign with a scorching 1.073 OPS (on-base plus slugging percent). The Bowling Green, Ky., native tallied seven two-hit games and three three-hit outings in addition to nine two-RBI, three three-RBI and two four-RBI showings. With two outs on her, Smith delivered 19 RBI and a .362 batting average.
The pair of underclassmen helped WKU Softball to one of the best seasons in program history. In 2019, the Hilltoppers posted a 37-13 record for the best winning percentage in the program’s 20th season. Throughout the season, the Red and White posted a double-digit win streak on two separate occasions.
Across Division I, 392 student-athletes from 163 programs received 2019 NFCA All-Region accolades. The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s 10 regions with first, second and third-team selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams, and all the honorees now become eligible for selection to the 2019 NFCA Division I All-American squads, which will be announced on Wednesday, May 29.
With the all-region nods, Smith and Sullivan are the ninth and 10th different Hilltoppers to collect an honor of the sort from the NFCA. Most recently, Thomas collected third team honors in 2018. Prior to that, Brooke Holloway brought in third team recognition in 2016 while Miranda Kramer and Larissa Franklin each earned first team selections in 2015. Olivia Watkins is the lone Hilltopper to earn multiple all-region credits, with first and third team laurels in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Emily Rousseau (second team, 2013), Ryan Rogge (first team, 2009) and Shelly Floyd (first team, 2003) round out WKU Softball’s all-region honorees.