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Barton Softball’s Benjamin and Didion headline eight selections to All-Conference Division I team

Barton Softball’s Benjamin and Didion headline eight selections to All-Conference Division I team

The Barton Community College softball team was well represented on the recently released KJCCC Division I All-Conference Team with seven players garnering distinction, as well as, a sweep of the player and coaching awards.  Voted by conference head coaches, headlining the selections were Head Coach Marc Benjamin as Co-Coach of the Year while Madison Didion grabbed not only the Freshman of the Year award but was voted the conference's Most Valuable Player.  Sophomores McKenna Mauler and Jenna Hosey joined Didion on the first team while sophomore Holly Posegate was joined by freshmen Jayden Gonzales, Brittany Wood, and Maddison Schofield on the second team.   The selections helped lead Coach Benjamin's third year of Lady Cougars to a runner-up finish in the Region VI Championship season as No. 9 Barton fell to No. 6 Butler Community College 11-10 finishing the 2015-16 campaign with a school record 51-8 record. 

Benjamin shares the coaching honor with Butler's Doug Chance as the Grizzlies led the selections with nine.

Coming off the 2015 season capturing the program's first region title since 1993, Coach Benjamin rebuilt the 2016 version into a more complete team.  Setting school records in the major run production areas, Benjamin added speed resulting in a record year of stolen bases while elevating the defense and pitching which rewrote the book on strikeouts in a season.  Completing his third season, Benjamin has brought the Lady Cougars into the national spotlight as well with the No. 9 ranking in the nation while dotting the national statistical grid with many individual and team top twenty rankings.  

At the center of all the action stood the 5'5" right hander Madison Didion finishing her inaugural collegiate season with a program second best 26-5 record.  Selected the freshman and most valuable player of the conference, the Montesano, Washington, native struck out 210 batters for an average of 8.06 per game as both stats ranked 11th in Division I softball this season.  Recording eight or more strikeouts in thirteen games, Didion's achievements also finished second in program history behind's Michelle Moores' 33-12 record and 219 punch-outs set in the 1993 season. 

Barton had both of their middle infielders land on the first team as shortstop Jenna Hosey and second baseman McKenna Mauler led a marked improvement defensively as the Cougars finished atop the conference standings in fielding percentage.  With eight errors early in the season, Hosey was solid when the Lady Cougars needed her the most committing just three in the twenty-four game conference season fielding the position at a .934 percentage.  In addition to anchoring the defense, the Topeka, Kansas, native finished second on the team in stolen bases with 28 for the third best effort in school history and a 46th ranking in the NJCAA.   

Fielding at a .935 clip, Mauler added some punch from the No. 8 hole of the lineup with a team third best 13 home runs placing her in a tie for the program's seventh best single season performance.  The Great Bend native also led the team in walks (21) and was fourth in runs (55) placing her just outside the school's top ten.   

Leading the wave of second team selections, Holly Posegate was not only honored as a pitcher but additionally as a utility player.  In the center circle Posegate was pivotal for the Lady Cougars throughout the season and especially in Barton's run to the title game.  Finishing with the third most wins in program history going 24-2, Posegate gave Barton a solid No. 2 pitcher contributing to eighteen doubleheader sweeps.  The Loveland, Colorado, native also struck out 109 batters teaming with Didion to produce the program's best strikeout tandem while only allowing a program second least amount of walks.  Outside of the circle Posegate was solid at the plate batting .373 out of the No. 7 hole belting a fourth best nine home runs while driving in 46 runs.

Setting the table for the Lady Cougars was the Perth, Australia, freshman Maddison Schofield.  Leading the team with a school fifth best .436 batting average, Schofield also rewrote the program record book crossing the plate 80 times surpassing the 71 runs Erica Harper scored last season.  Schofield finished just two hits shy of Harper's school record 90 hits including coming in second on the team with 19 doubles tying the program's fourth best two-bag effort.  Fourth on the team in homeruns with nine including a 3-run blast in the Region VI title game, Schofield was also third on the team while ranking in the top six in school history in stolen bases (25) and runs batted in (55).

Joining Schofield in the outfield and on the conference's second team was fellow freshman Brittany Wood.  Near the top of the NJCAA for most of the season in homeruns and runs batted in, Wood ended her season with a program second best performance of 21 long balls, 21 doubles, and 93 runs batted in.   Ranking sixth on the national chart in homeruns, the South Jordan, Utah, was five behind Erica Harper's record 26 while tying Whitney Boeh's 2008 performance.  Wood also finished third in the country in RBIs falling one short of Harper's 2015 record.

Rounding out the all-conference selection, Jayden Gonzales was not only solid at first base defensively with a .980 fielding percentage, the Tecumseh, Kansas, freshman was also a big producer out of the No. 3 hole of the lineup.   Driving in a team second best 76 runs to rank third all-time in school history, Gonzales was also second on the team with a program fourth best 14 homeruns while third on the team with a .417 batting average.

An additional historical performance year was turned in by sophomore transfer outfielder Cadie O'Donnell.  Not selected for an all-conference award, the Salina, Kansas, native led the Lady Cougars in stolen bases with 32 ranking 32nd in Division I softball.  The thefts challenged the school record but came up one shy of Kris Wilson's record set in 2000.  O'Donnell also etched her name in the school books finishing in a fourth-place tie with 63 runs scored and tied for sixth with four triples.