FULTON, Mo. – On Saturday, Eureka College junior Sydney Shubert (Canton, Ill./Canton) became the first Red Devil to be named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Softball Player of the Year.
After capturing its first SLIAC title in program history last weekend, Eureka received its heaviest haul of All-SLIAC honors and awards in its 13-year membership in the league, starting at the top.
A trio of Red Devils in Shubert, Morgan Ledbetter, (Hanna City, Ill./Elmwood) and Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap) and were selected to the First Team. Morgan Osborn (Washington, Ill./Washington) and Raelyn Payne (Lexington, Ill./Lexington) were named to the Second Team, and Adrianna Zeman (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru) earned Third Team All-SLIAC honors.
But that wasn't all.
Payne, the Red Devils' freshman shortstop, became the first Red Devil to receive the SLIAC Newcomer of the Year award, and Neff was named SLIAC Coach of the Year for the second time in her seven years at Eureka.
Freshman Faith Bachtold was named to the SLIAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
"I'm really thrilled that the conference coaches recognized our kids," Neff said. "They're all very deserving. As I look at my teams, I always feel they're all all-conference to me, because it takes a whole entire team to do anything, and each one of those individuals is a major part of what goes on in our program."
In 2016, the Red Devils had six All-SLIAC honorees and Neff was voted SLIAC Coach of the Year for the first time, but adding Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year into the mix is a new program milestone.
Shubert, a transfer from Heartland Community College, received the conference's top honor after leading the league with a .603 batting average, a .640 on-base percentage and 41 hits in 18 SLIAC games. She contributed a double and two triples while driving in seven runs and crossing the plate a league-high 28 times. In addition, she walked six times and swiped six bases.
Between her speed and practiced, polished technique at the plate, Shubert was a multidimensional threat in the No. 2 spot for the Red Devils. By the end of the season, opposing teams were celebrating any time they could prevent her from reaching base.
In center field, Shubert made 34 putouts and four assists in 39 chances (.974 fielding percentage), only committing one error and often making tough plays look easy.
Ledbetter, a transfer from Culver-Stockton, captured First Team honors in her first year with EC after emerging as the SLIAC's premier power hitter. She led the league in slugging (.953) while recording its third-highest batting average (.516) and fourth-highest on-base percentage (.551). In 18 games, she racked up a league-high 61 total bases.
In a season in which she has set EC's single-season program home run record (14), Ledbetter also led the league with seven long balls, and added seven doubles. She trailed only Shubert in hits (33), and was also second in RBI (27).
As the Red Devils' first baseman, Ledbetter recorded the second-most putouts in the league (108). She only had one error and finished with a .982 fielding percentage in conference play.
Smith, the Red Devils' junior ace, is a first-time First Team honoree after being named to the Third Team as a sophomore. The right-hander recorded a league-low 1.85 ERA, started 10 SLIAC games and won nine of them, turning in a complete-game performance in each one.
She logged the second-most innings in the SLIAC (75.2), only allowing 20 earned runs and nine walks. Plus, she fanned 47 batters, averaging 4.35 Ks per seven innings.
On the last day of the conference season, Smith pitched both games of a doubleheader against Spalding that ultimately decided the SLIAC title, and only gave up two earned runs as the Red Devils swept their way to their first SLIAC regular-season title.
No one recorded more at-bats in SLIAC play (71) this season than Payne, and the Red Devils' leadoff hitter often made the most of them. She recorded a formidable .451/.481/.718 slash line in her first season in the league. Her slugging percentage was sixth in the conference, her batting average was 14th and on-base percentage 15th.
The freshman finished third in total hits with 32 – one behind Ledbetter and nine behind Shubert. She notched 11 extra-base hits in 18 conference games – seven doubles and four homers – which was the fourth-most in the league. Her 51 total bases were the third-most claimed.
Payne finished tied for fourth in runs scored (23), drove in 17 runs (tied for 10th), stole two bases and only struck out twice. At short, Payne made 38 putouts and had 47 assists in 94 chances.
Like Smith, Osborn was a Third Team honoree as a sophomore last year. The junior moved up to the Second Team this season after hitting .462 (12th in SLIAC), notching a .514 on-base percentage (eighth) and a .708 slugging percentage (seventh).
EC's No. 3 hitter posted 30 hits (fourth), knocking 11 extra-base hits – seven doubles and three home runs. She scored the second-most runs in the league (24), drew the second-most walks (eight) and drove in the third-most runs (26), all without striking out a single time in 65 at-bats.
Behind the plate, Osborn was one of 13 players in the league to play all 18 conference games without committing an error. She made 67 putouts and 14 assists in 81 chances while catching five of six runners attempting to steal.
Zeman, a sophomore second baseman, is a first-time All-SLIAC honoree. She recorded a .450/.468/.550 slash line with 27 hits, four doubles, a triple, 13 RBI and 10 runs in 60 at-bats over the course of 17 SLIAC games. In the infield, she registered a .909 fielding percentage with 26 putouts and 14 assists in 44 chances.
Eureka's previous ALL-SLIAC honors
2007: 2 (1 first team, 1 second team, 1 honorable mention)
2008: 2 (2 second team, honorable mention)
2009: 0 (3 honorable mention)
2010: 2 (1 first team, 1 second team, 2 honorable mention)
2011: 1 (1 first team, 2 honorable mention)
2012: 1 (1 first team)
2013: 2 (2 second team)
2014: 1 (1 first team, 2 honorable mention)
2015: 3 (1 second team, 2 third)
2016: 6 (1 first team, 3 second team, 2 third team + Coach of the Year)
2017: 3 (3 first team)
2018: 3 (1 first team, 2 third team)
2019: 6 (3 first team, two second team, 1 third team; Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Coach of the Year)