Every softball game that University of Illinois-Springfield had this year, Nokomis graduate Mandy Smith was looking to steal.
Smith, a sophomore, is a base stealer extraordinaire. She was one of three UIS players that stole over 10 bases this year and one of only two that posted more than 25 in the 58 UIS games. One has to believe that Smith's ability to stretch a single into a double, the old fashioned way, was one of the reasons that the Great Lakes Valley Conference opposition coaches named her to the all-conference team. A mere two weeks later, she was named to the Daktronics sponsored NCAA Division II All-Region Team.
This year, Smith finished with a .312 batting average. She averaged one hit per game, as the 58-game starter, finished with 58 hits in 186 trips to the plate. Of her hits, five were doubles and one was a triple. She stole 29 bases this year. She also had 28 runs scored, 14 RBIs and 12 walks.
But, in conference action, Smith stepped it up even more. Smith had a .333 batting average in 34 games. She had 37 hits in 111 at-bats. Of her hits, three were doubles. She had 19 stolen bases, 18 runs scored and nine RBIs.
"I try to watch the pitcher very close when I am sitting on the bench and waiting to go up," said the Fillmore resident. "I also pay attention to the catcher and try to watch when they are throwing a low pitch or a pitch that is tough to handle. Next year I want to steal even more bases. Our power hitters were pretty good at getting me home. I wanted to make sure I was in a good position for them to drive me in. I was shocked to be named to the all-conference team."
UIS finished 36-22 overall and 22-12 in the league. They advanced to the NCAA Division II Regional in Indianapolis, before being ousted by Northern Kentucky University.
Brooke Beeler (Hillsboro) finished 16th in the NCAA Division I West Regional, which was held at the Colorado Nationals Golf Course in Erie, Colorado. University of Colorado and the NCAA served as the hosts. Beeler shot a 220 for 54 holes. Beeler, who was the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs top golfer, was not above 75 in a single round, shooting a 73 in the first two rounds and closing with a 74. Texas Christian finished 14th with a 900. Louisiana State University won the West Regional shooting an 873.
North Central College's Chelsea Armstrong (Litchfield) competed in two events at the Dr. Keeler Track and Field Invitational, which was held at NCC. Armstrong, who is hoping to advance to the NCAA Division III Nationals, finished sixth in the hammer throw and eighth in the discus. She recorded respective distances of 149'2" and 125'11".
Shane Convery (Lincolnwood) shot a 235 for 54 holes at the NCAA Division II Super Regional, which combined the South Regional and the Southeast Regional at the same location. Lenoir Rhyne and the NCAA hosted the event, which was held at Rock Barn Golf and Country Club in Conover, North Carolina. Convery shot a low round of 71 in the second round. That was sandwiched between a 79 in the opening round and 85 in the final round. Florida Southern College took 10th with an 888. Georgia College took first with an 869.
Washington University's Katie Homa (Hillsboro) finished 100th at the NCAA Division III National Tournament. The outing was jointly hosted by Trine University and the NCAA. It was held at the Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Indiana. Homa shot a 369 for 72 holes. Homa's lowest round of the four was an 89. Washington University took 13th as a team, carding a 1,297. Methodist University won the team title with a 1,242.
Greenville College finished 17-22 overall this year. But, in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, it was a completely different story. They finished five games over .500, posting a 14-9 mark. Greenville sophomore Dylan Goldsmith (Nokomis) had a .290 batting average. In 107 trips to the plate, Goldsmith had 31 hits (three doubles). He scored 23 times, drove home 12 runs, walked eight times and stole one base. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound infielder had an on-base percentage of .356 and a slugging percentage of .318. In the field, he had 59 putouts, 77 assists and eight errors for a .944 fielding percentage.
Maryville University finished 15-34 overall and 11-25 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference this year. Maryville sophomore Shane Herschelman (Raymond-Lincolnwood) worked 29 1/3 innings this year. He was 1-5. He allowed 35 earned runs on 53 hits. He fanned 27 batters and walked 18.
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Dan Chamness is a freelance college sports writer. He can be contacted at Dan62801@aol.com.