[27-30 OVERALL, 12-12 MAC (4th East)]
The Akron Zips, under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Julie Jones, concluded the 2017 season at 27-30 overall and finished MAC play at 12-12 (4th in the East) after going 1-2 in their fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship appearance. The Zips return 10 letterwinners, including four starters. UA welcomes four freshmen.
After 57 contests, junior OF Ashley Sims (Brooksville, Fla.) was the Zips' top hitter, batting .374 with 65 hits, 35 runs, and a MAC-best and season record 46 stolen bases. Senior OF Savannah Fruin (Delray Beach, Fla.) followed at .321 with a team-best 48 RBI, 51 hits, 12 doubles, a triple, and 12 home runs.
In the circle, freshman lefty Lexie Handley (Mogadore, Ohio), the 2017 MAC Freshman of the Year, had a 2.45 ERA. She finished at 20-17 overall, throwing a MAC-high 226.0 innings with 183 strikeouts and season-record 92 walks.
Junior Kooper Vertz (Dilsboro, Ind.) went 5-5 overall with a 3.03 ERA. She pitched 64.2 innings with 29 strikeouts and 30 walks.
Pitcher Lexie Handley was named the 2017 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year as well as second-team All-MAC and All-Freshman honors. Redshirt junior outfielder Ashley Sims (Brookville, Fla.) earned first-team All-MAC accolades.
Five Akron Zips were among the Mid-American Conference's 89 softball players honored as Academic All-MAC selections for 2017.
Earning the honor for the second time were juniors 1B Cassie Gillespie (Sylvania, Ohio), OF Taylor Kirian (New Riegel, Ohio), and OF Kayla Schlosser (Erie, Pa.). Junior P Nicole Best (Broadview Heights, Ohio) and sophomore 1B Laura Lakins (Akron, Ohio) were first-time recipients.
Akron's 2017 Academic All-MAC Selections
Nicole Best P Jr. 3.385 Marketing Management
Cassie Gillespie 1B Jr. 3.947 Exercise Science/Pre-Physical Therapy
Taylor Kirian OF Jr. .810 Supply Chain/Operations Management
Laura Lakins 1B So. 3.739 Integrated Language Arts
Kayla Schlosser OF Jr. 3.968 Biology
MAC TOURNEY RECAP
Akron participated in its fourth consecutive (and 12th overall) MAC Tournament. The No. 7 seed Zips fell to No. 2 Ohio, 2-0, in the opening round before rebounding with a 10-2 victory in five innings over No. 6 seed Miami (Ohio). In the season finale, UA lost to No. 8 seed Western Michigan, 7-5.
In the upset of Miami, senior OF Savannah Fruin (Delray Beach, Fla.) had two home runs, marking her 34th career home run. She also became the third Zip to hit multiple home runs in a single game this season. For her efforts, Fruin was named to the MAC All-Tournament Team for the third time.
IN THE MAC STATS
In the final stats, Akron led all Mid-American Conference teams in sacrifice bunts (70), stolen bases (140), and stealing attempts (186). Redshirt junior CF Ashley Sims led all players in the Mid-American Conference in stolen bases (46).
SIMS SETS STOLEN BASE RECORD
With her three stolen bases in the MAC tourney win over Miami, redshirt junior CF Ashley Sims became the record holder for stolen bases in a season. She surpassed Lisa McLean who had 45 thefts from the 2009 season.
FRUIN HITS HOME RUN MILESTONE
With her two home runs in the 10-2 win (5 inn.) over Miami in the MAC tourney, senior OF Savannah Fruin recorded her 34th career home run. She finished her collegiate career second on Akon's all-time career list. Kelli Metzger (1996-99) is the career leader with 57 home runs.
The Zips honored six members of their graduating class prior to the final home games on April 22– juniors OF Taylor Kirian, OF Ashley Sims, and OF Kayla Schlosser; and seniors OF Savannah Fruin, C Alyssa Nicholas, and 2B Anna Tarpley.
Over the last four years, this class has won more than 25 games each season. In their first two seasons, these Zips helped Akron advance to a third-place finish in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, one of the highest finishes since the Zips began competing in Division I.
Individually, the Zips have re-written the record books and climbed the career charts while racking up weekly honors. Off the field, they've represented the University in the community with several activities, including Summit County Developmental Disabilities, Akron Children's Hospital, Summit County Juvenile Detention Center, Akron Public Schools, and many other community organizations.
CARTER VIDEO GOES VIRAL
Akron softball's home debut on ESPN3 on April 4 has brought the team some unexpected publicity. Pinch running in the bottom of the third inning of the Zips' 4-1 win over Buffalo, freshman outfielder Madison Carter's (Newnan, Ga.) slide into second base made ESPN's "Not Top 10" list Tuesday night and received more than one million views in less than 24 hours. On April 6, Carter appeared on CNN sports with Cory Wire.
TARPLEY'S FIRST HOMER
Senior 2B Anna Tarpley hit her first career home run in the 10-3 win at Northern Illinois on March 24. And it was memorable-- a grand slam! It marked the 13th grand slam in school history. The last Zips' grand slam was in 2016 when Savannah Fruin had one against Eastern Michigan (3/26/16).
In the 9-0 shutout victory over Eastern Michigan, freshman lefty Lexie Handley threw her first career no hitter. The last player to throw a no hitter was Heather Bauer in 2009 against Pennsylvania. Handley's no hitter was the first of her collegiate career and the first in MAC play by a Zip since 1992.
WE WANT TWO
At Eastern Michigan, designated paler Kelly Hysong hit two home runs in a game ... twice. In the second game on April 1, Hysong went 3-for-4 for two runs off of a double and two home runs, becoming the first Akron player since 2012 to hit two homers in the same game. In the final game at EMU on April 2, Hysong did it again. She went 3-for-4 for two runs, five RBI on a double and two home runs in the Zips' 9-0 shutout victory (and a no hitter). Hysong's two-RB double in the first inning put UA on the scoreboard. Her second homer in the top of the seventh clinched the 9-0 win. Hysong is the first player in school history to hit two home runs in back-to-back games. For her efforts, Hysong was named the MAC Player of the Week on April 3.
In the series finale against Central Michigan on April 9, senior Anna Tarpley became the second Zip this season to record two home runs in a single game, helping the Akron softball team to a 6-2 win.
In the 10-2 win over Miami in the MAC tourney, senior OF Savannah Fruin joined the club with home runs.
HEAD COACH JULIE JONES
In her 11th season at Akron, head coach Julie Jones has mentored 19 All-MAC honorees, five NCAA All-Mideast Region selections, 28 Academic All-MAC student-athletes, eight Academic All-District selections, and two Academic All-Americans, the 2014 MAC Pitcher of the Year, the 2017 MAC Freshman of the Year, and the 2016 prestigious MAC Nan Harvey award winner.
With the 1-0 shutout of Fort Wayne in the final game of the Black & Gold Tournament, Jones recorded her 250th win at Akron. The 2-0 victory at Youngstown State was the 500th victory of Jones' career. The 3-2 win at Bowling Green was her 100th win in MAC play.
Jones is Akron's all-time leader for games coached (573) and ranks second in coaching wins (272).
Three National Letter of Intent signees will join the Zips next season. The 2017 class includes P Kayla Kmett (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), P Mikayla Newland (Chillicothe, Ohio), and C Kayla Wulf (Maumee, Ohio).
Kmett, a pitcher from Jserra Catholic High School, was named to the first team All-Trinity league, named the Jserra Catholic player of the year, and a scholar-athlete a season ago as a junior. Inside the circle, Kmett has pitched over 228 innings work and has struck out 186 batters in her three-year career. She is third on the Jserra all-time strikeout list. At the plate, Kmett has posted a career batting average of .343 on the strength of 74 hits, 13 doubles, eight triples, two home runs and 50 runs batted in.
Newland, a pitcher from Paint Valley High School, is a three-time first team All-Scioto Valley Conference honoree (2014-16). Newland is also a three-time first-team All-District selection (2014-16) and as a junior (2016) was named to the All-State second team. In 343.6 innings of work, Newland owns a 33-20 overall record an has posted a 0.51 earned run average over a span of three years. In her career, she as struck out 789 batters, including striking out 21 batters in a game three times, a school record. As a freshman, Newland helped lead her team to a 22-9 record and a state of Ohio Final Four appearance.
Wulf, a catcher from Maumee High School, is a three-time first team All-Northern Lakes League selection (2014-16). A as a junior, Wulf posted a career-high .590 batting average on the strength of 26 hits, seven doubles, eight triples, eight home runs, and 32 runs batted in. Boasted a career-most 39 RBI as a freshman (2014) on a career-high 34 hits and nine doubles. As a sophomore (2015), Wulf knocked 10 home runs, a career-high. Helped lead her team to two regional second-place finishes as a freshman (2014) and junior (2016), and a second-place finish in the district tournament as a sophomore (2015). Wulf owns the single-season record in home runs in the NLL with 10 as a sophomore.