OU's Pickering, Rassmussen among nation's best softball players

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Two Ottawa University softball players were recognized nationally for their performances in 2021.

Junior outfielder Ally Pickering and junior ace pitcher Casson Rassmussen were selected to All-American teams. Pickering was member of the NFCA NAIA All-American and NAIA All-American teams. She was a second team pick on both teams. Rassmussen was a member of the NAIA All-American second team.

The NFCA recognizes 37 student-athletes from 26 different institutions. Pickering was just the third Ottasa softball player to earn NFCA NAIA All-American honors. Lindsey Tuter earned second team honors in 2010 and Molli Morgan was a second team selection in 2017.

Pickering finished the season with a .438 batting average, scoring 58 runs, hitting 15 doubles, 10 triples, and three home runs. She drove in 47 runs, had a .688 slugging percentage, walked 13 times, had a .476 on base percentage, and stole 12 bases.

Pickering is ranked second in the NAIA in total triples (10), fifth in triples per game (0.19), 14th in total runs scored (58), 16th in total hits (77), 18th in runs scored per game (1.1), 20th in total bases (121), 25th in hits per game (1.4), 31st in total bases per game (2.3), 32nd in batting average (0.438), 38th in total RBI (47), and 47th in total doubles (15).

“Ally had a tremendous year for us,” Ottawa coach Jay Kahnt said. “She broke the single-season program record for hits, triples, and runs scored. We knew she would have a great year for us, but not sure we knew it would be this good.  She was a NJCAA All-American her first year at DMACC.  Ally getting 2nd Team All-American from the NFCA and NAIA is very deserving.”

Pickering was named NFCA Region VI first team, earned KCAC Newcomer of the Year, was a first team All-KCAC selection, and was named KCAC Player of the Week once in 2021.

Rasmussen finished the season with a 30-5 mark, joining Morgan as the only pitchers with 30-plus wins in a season. She had a 1.46 ERA, pitched 26 complete games, appeared in 35 and had three saves. In 226 innings, she had 168 strikeouts,  allowed 47 earned runs, and opponents had a .203 batting average against her. Rasmussen is ranked third in the NAIA in wins (30), fifth in total innings pitched (226), 12th in saves (3), 21st in ERA (1.46), 28th in assists per game (2.4), 28th in opponent batting average (.203), 38th in innings pitched per game (5.7), and 39th in hits allowed per nine innings (5.4).

“Casson was unbelievable on the mound for us this year,” Kahnt said. “She proved all year that she was one of the best pitchers in the country. She set the single season program record with a 1.46 ERA this season.  We knew we had a great chance to win every time she took the mound. She brings a great winning mentality to our program and holds herself to a very high standard.” 

She was named to the NAIA Softball World Series All-Tournament Team, earned NFAC NAIA first team Region IV honors, was named KCAC Pitcher of the Year, earned first team All-KCAC, and was named KCAC Pitcher of the Week four times this past season.

The duo helped lead Ottawa to the NAIA World Series. The Lady Braves were the KCAC regular season and tournament champions. Ottawa set several team records, including wins (45) and a 23-game winning streak. Kahnt won his 500th career victory in the World Series.

Ottawa University junior Ally Pickering received NFCA and NAIA All-American honors.