RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (GreatAmericanConference.com) – The Great American Conference
unveiled the list of nominees for the league's Female Athlete of the
Year award to be presented at the GAC Night of Champions on Monday at
the Little Rock Marriott.
Administrators from the 11 current members of the league will vote on the following nominees to determine the overall conference honoree. All 11 will be recognized at the Night of Champions. Two nominees – Harding's Mollie Arnold and Henderson State's Kendall Earp – repeated as his school's nominee.
The GAC Sports Network will webcast the event for free at www.gacsportsnetwork.com.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT MONTICELLO: Beth Johnson (Softball)
Hometown: Allen, Texas
Supportive Information: Johnson became a three-time All-GAC performer as she hit .346 with a league-leading seven triples. She started every game during her four-year career with the Cotton Blossoms and had a role in 140 wins. She ranked inside the top 10 of seven different statistical categories. She served as the 2013-14 President of UAM Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Quote from Arkansas-Monticello Softball Coach Alvy Early: "Beth is an exceptional young lady that has worked untiringly in her efforts to do her best at anything she attempted in her softball career. She has also accomplished academic milestones such as Chancellor's List, Dean's List, and Alpha Chi. She has a deep commitment for delivering her very best and has been the ultimate team player. Through her work on the field and classroom Beth has distinguished herself among her peers as a person who is dedicated, knowledgeable, professional, and loyal."
ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY: Rebecka Surtevall (Golf)
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Supportive Information: Surtevall won her second GAC Women's Golf Championships individual medalist honor and her third GAC Women's Golfer of the Year award. She tied for fourth at the 2014 Division II Central Region Championships and went on to take third place at the NCAA National Championships. In addition to the GAC Championship crown, she won four tournaments and totaled 12 top-10 finishes in 13 tournaments.
Quote from Arkansas Tech Golf Coach Amy White: "Rebecka excels in the classroom and on the golf course. But more importantly, she sets an example of what a Division ll student-athlete is. She has served on ATU's SAAC program for three years and has been a leader in all of our numerous community service projects completed since 2011. Additionally, coaches and parents from each school we complete against always comment on her exceptional personality and attitude even more so than her golfing ability."
EAST CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: Gina Mengwasser (Softball)
Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Mengwasser performed as the First-Team All-GAC catcher for the second consecutive year. She ranked in the top 10 in the GAC in slugging percentage, home runs, doubles and RBI. In two years as a member of the Lady Tigers, she tallied 112 hits, 23 home runs and 30 doubles, while accumulating a .358 batting average. She will serve as a graduate assistant coach for the program next season.
Quote from East Central Softball Coach Destini Anderson: "During [Gina's] tenure at ECU she has set goals for herself that she has exceeded. Gina has shown [a willingness] to put in extra time to improve her weaknesses. What I have come to appreciate most from her is that she is always the same in good times and bad. Not matter what is going on around her she will come to practice with a good attitude and a smile on her face. It has been an absolute privilege coaching this young woman. She has been a great asset to our softball program and to ECU."
HARDING UNIVERSITY: Mollie Arnold (Volleyball)
Hometown: Bono, Arkansas
Supportive Information: Arnold repeated as GAC Player of the Year as the Lady Bisons won a second-straight GAC regular-season title. She led the conference and ranked in the top 20 in the country in kills and points per set. She earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors for the second consecutive season. She finished ranked second at Harding in career kills (1,884), fourth in aces (149) and sixth in digs (1,487).
Quote from Harding Volleyball Coach Meredith Fear: "Mollie has been an undoubtedly the most impactful player in our program for the last four years. She has been in a dominant role her entire career as a Lady Bison and her teammates have relied on her heavily for the successes of the teams she has been a part of. Mollie is one of the most humble players I have ever coached. Her great skill is only shadowed by her greater character. She is dedicated to her goals and gives nothing but her best in all circumstances."
HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY: Kendall Earp (Golf)
Hometown: Crockett, Texas
Supportive Information: Earp helped the Lady Reddies claim the program's first ever GAC Women's Golf Championship as she finished second as an individual. She earned First-Team All-GAC honors for a second straight year and led HSU back to the NCAA Division II Regionals for the second year in a row. She won individual titles at the HSU Lady Reddie Invitational at the Natural State Classic and totaled six top-10 finishes
Quote from Henderson State Senior Woman Administrator Rhonda Thigpen: "[Kendall] accomplished more for women's golf than anyone else in the history of the program. She has made her mark in golf for the conference and represented both the conference and the university very well at the regional meet. She displayed an outstanding work ethic on and off the golf course. She helped her team to its first ever regional appearance and followed it up with a back to back appearance this year."
NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Shelby Anderson (Softball)
Hometown: Mountain Home, Arkansas
Supportive Information: Anderson made an immediate impact on the Lady Ranger softball program. She dual threat led the GAC in ERA (1.63) and batting average (.444) and she set Northwestern single-season records in on-base percentage (.530), hits (80), home runs (17), walks (31) and wins (21), in addition to batting average and ERA. She helped the team picked ninth in the preseason coaches poll to a school-record 41 wins
Quote from Northwestern Oklahoma State Softball Coach Jason Anderson: "She played through injury most of the second half of the season and still battled as we [vied] to stay atop the GAC standings. Her presence led to a resurgent year for Northwestern softball. We won a school record 41 games and missed out on the conference title by only half a game. Shelby is a very good student and also is a member of our SAAC. She enjoys working with kids and stays active in the Alva community as a volunteer youth softball coach.."
OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: Haley Hatcher (Soccer)
Hometown: Maumelle, Arkansas
Supportive Information: In her first year in Arkadelphia, Hatcher dominated the GAC at the offensive end like no other player in the country. She scored 13 more goals and totaled 27 more points than any other player in the league. She earned GAC Player of the Year and All-Central Region honors as she finished ranked in top five in the nation in goals (19) and points (41) and as one of six players in Division II averaging at least a goal per game.
From Ouachita Baptist Sports Information Director Kyle Parris: "Haley was a dominant presence on the field in every game for the Tigers, averaging just over one goal per game. She not only dominated her sport statistically unlike any other athlete in the GAC, but also represented [OBU] in a way to be modeled by all other athletes. Haley also [succeeded] off the field, receiving academic awards and holding student leaderships positions. Her participation in service events and mission trips were a reflection of her character."
SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Jessica Simmons (Softball)
Hometown: Bethel, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Simmons, the GAC Player of the Year, helped the Savage Storm advance to the NCAA Division II Softball Championships for the first time in program history. She earned All-Region honors from the NFCA and All-American honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. She hit .413 with 38 stolen bases and tied the Southeastern record for doubles with 20.
Quote from Southeastern Oklahoma State Athletic Director Keith Baxter: "Since her first day at Southeastern she has proven to be committed to excellence in everything she does. Through four semesters she has a GPA of 3.87 while pursuing a double major in Mathematics and Chemistry. The same excellence can be seen on the field, playing second base and batting leadoff for the Savage Storm, she has led her team to two 45-win seasons. Jessica is a coach's dream, she has the "it factor", the complete package."
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY: Shelby Miller (Softball)
Hometown: Brazoria, Texas
Supportive Information: Miller claimed the GAC Freshman of the Year award and earned the GAC Tournament MVP honor as she helped the Muleriders claim the GAC Championship title and advance to the NCAA
Tournament for the first time in program history. She hit .413 with 15 home runs and added 15 pitching wins and seven saves. She received Honorable Mention All-American honors from Daktronics.
Quote from Southern Arkansas Softball Coach Corey Lyon: "Based on the hard work and dedication that Shelby has shown on and off the playing field here at SAU, I believe that Shelby is more than deserving to represent the GAC as Female Athlete of the Year. Her outstanding play this season resulted in Shelby leading our team in 18 statistical categories while leading our team to the first-ever NCAA championship appearance. As great as Shelby has been on the field, she has excelled in the classroom as well as she finished her freshman year with a 3.5 GPA."
SOUTHERN NAZARENE UNIVERSITY: Masha Andrianova (Tennis)
Hometown: Yaroslavl, Russia
Supportive Information: Andrianova earned First-Team All-GAC honors for the second straight year as she improved to 11-0 all-time against GAC foes at No. 1 singles. She claimed the GAC Player of the Year award after posting a perfect 14-0 record at No. 1 singles and at 13-4 record in No. 1 doubles. She earned the ITA All-Central Region Player to Watch honor for the 2014-15 season.
Quote from Southern Nazarene Tennis Coach Charlie Hibbard: "Masha's work ethic on and off the court is evident in all her success on the court and in class. She played No. 1 singles and doubles. In singles this past spring semester she went undefeated - a task very difficult to accomplish since there are so many strong No. 1 players inside and outside of the GAC. She leads the team by example. I believe this is the best leadership as words do not mean anything if they are not followed with actions of the same. The whole team strives to be more like her."
SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Michelle Fisher (Basketball)
Hometown: Mustang, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Fisher led the Lady Bulldogs to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth as she helped them claim a second GAC Women's Basketball Tournament title. She earned Tournament MVP honors as SWOSU upset national No. 2 Harding. She earned First-Team All-GAC honors for the second straight year and she finished her career as SWOSU's all-time leader in 3-pointers (225) and fourth in the scoring list with 1,446 points.
From Southwestern Oklahoma State Sports Information Director Doug Self: "Fisher has helped reshape the women's basketball at SWOSU, playing all four years for the Lady Bulldogs and helping them to a record of 63-27 the past three seasons. She was named a Preseason All-American this year after earning First Team All-GAC honors as a junior and she backed it up by scoring 17.2 points per game. She earned Tournament MVP honors by scoring 18 points in the championship game upset of No. 2 Harding."