OU coaching staff, players receive 2021 NFCA NAIA regional honors

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa University softball program is gaining national attention following its World Series run.

The Ottawa coaching staff and three players were selected to the 2021 NFCA (The National Fastpitch Coaches Association) NAIA Regional teams.

Ottawa University senior outfielder Sammi Bates was one of three Ottawa players selected to the All-NFCA Region IV first team. The Ottawa coaching staff received the Region IV Coaching Staff of the Year award.

The Ottawa softball staff of Jay Kahnt, Sam Mendez, Kori Lacey, and Dr. Scott Maid, was named NFCA Region IV Coaching Staff of the Year.

Ottawa had three softball players named to the NFCA Region IV first team. They are Casson Rasmussen, Ally Pickering, and Sammi Bates.

Kahnt, who won his 500th game in the NAIA World Series, said in a tweet, “I definitely work with one of the best coaching staffs around.”

There were six programs selected by their peers as 2021 NFCA NAIA Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year.

Representing the other NFCA NAIA Regions were Milligan University (Region I), William Carey University (Region II), College of Idaho (Region III), and Olivet Nazarene University (Region V) and Indiana University Southeast (Region VI) – are now eligible for the NFCA's National Coaching Staff of the Year award, which will be announced June 12. 

Milligan, College of Idaho, Ottawa and Olivet Nazarene each earned a trip to the 2021 NAIA Softball World Series, while William Carey and IU Southeast each were NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round participants.

The Lady Braves just finished an historic season with an overall record of 45-7 and a KCAC mark of 22-2. Ottawa's 45 wins are a school record. Ottawa won the KCAC regular season championship and the KCAC Tournament Championship.

Ottawa made its fourth appearance in the NAIA Softball World Series as the No. 5 overall seed. Kahnt was named KCAC Coach of the Year and Ottawa finished the year ranked No. 20 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll of the regular season.

There were 144 players receiving all-region honors. The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association's six regions with first- and second-team selections. NFCA member head coaches from each respective region vote on the teams, and all student-athletes now become eligible for the 2021 NFCA NAIA All-America squads, which will be announced June 7.

Rasmussen, a junior pitcher, was named first team All-NFCA Region IV. This award joins her KCAC Pitcher of the Year and first team All-KCAC selections.

Rasmussen compiled a 1.50 ERA, with 161 strikeouts in 219 innings. Opponents hit .206 against her. She is ranked second in the NAIA in wins (30, sixth in total innings pitched (219), 12th in saves (3), 26th in ERA (1.52), 40th in opponent batting average (.206), 43rd in innings pitched per game (5.7), and 50th in hits allowed per seven innings (5.6). Rasmussen is just the second Ottawa pitcher to earn 30 wins in a season.

Pickering, a junior center fielder, earned first team All-NFCA Region IV honors.

This award is added to her first team All-KCAC selection and KCAC Newcomer of the Year honor.  

Pickering hit .445, scored 58 runs, hit 15 doubles, 10 triples, three home runs, had 47 RBIs, a .699 slugging percentage, walked 13 times, a .484 on base percentage and 12 stolen bases.

She is ranked second in the NAIA in total triples (10), third in triples per game (0.2), 12th in runs scored per game (1.1), 12th in batting average (.445), 14th in total runs scored (58), 15th in total hits (77), 17th in hits per game (1.5), 18th in total bases (121), 23rd in total bases per game (2.4), 37th in total RBI (47), 40t in slugging percentage (.699), and 46th in doubles (15).

Bates, a senior right fielder, was named first team All-NFCA Region IV. This is added to her first team All-KCAC selection.

Bates hit .394, scored 52 runs, hit eight doubles, three triples, one home run, had 19 RBIs, a .538 slugging percentage, walked a school record 37 times, a .508 on base percentage, and 14 stolen bases.

Bates is ranked 16th in the NAIA in total triples (6), 25th in total runs scored (52), 33rd in runs scored per game (1.02), and 36th in triples per game (.12).