Sandusky, Ohio – Becoming the first Purdue Northwest athlete to earn a Player of the Year award from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), senior Kyleigh Payne (Bourbonnais, Ill./Kankakee CC/Bishop McNamara) put a big exclamation point on her sensational collegiate career Friday when the conference released its postseason softball awards. Joining her on the 2018 All-GLIAC Softball Team were senior Holly Pagan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) as a second team selection as well as senior Samme Miller (North Salem, Ind./St. Joseph’s College/Tri-West) and junior Taylor Kotzo (Munster, Ind./Munster).
“Kyleigh has been a dominant force all season long and I don’t think anyone who has been following PNW softball this year is surprised by this news,” said Purdue Northwest softball coach Niki Stansell. “I’m so glad that our other two seniors, Holly and Samme, as well as Taylor got recognized as well by the conference, because they have all played a large role in the success we have had this season.”
In Purdue Northwest’s first year as a member of the GLIAC, Payne wasted no time establishing herself as an offensive force at the NCAA Division II level. Payne helped the Pride to a fourth-place finish in the league regular season standings and led the conference in several offensive categories this season. She boasted the GLIAC’s top batting average (.440) and also led the league in hits (62), triples (9), on-base percentage (.549) and slugging percentage (.851). Payne also ranked second in the league in home runs (10) and third overall in RBI (39).
Defensively at first base, she led the GLIAC in putouts (383) and had an impressive fielding percentage of .976. On March 26, Payne became the first female athlete at PNW to earn a GLIAC Player of the Week award. She started all 49 games for PNW at first base this season and also finished first in the conference in total bases (120), 14 more than the next highest finisher, as well as extra-base hits (29). On April 26, Payne was named the Purdue Northwest Female Athlete of the Year for the 2017-18 academic year.
Pagan put up big numbers for the Pride as well this season finishing the regular season ranked No. 8 overall in home runs (7) and 19th in RBI (26). Over 44 games this spring, she posted 35 hits, including eight doubles, and scored 21 runs. Miller hit .314 over the regular season with 38 hits, 21 runs scored and 25 RBI. Kotzo posted a .317 batting average for the Pride during the regular season with 44 hits, including a team-leading 18 doubles, as well as 36 runs scored and 32 RBI.
Purdue Northwest (25-25 overall/15-17 GLIAC) played its first game of the 2018 GLIAC Softball Tournament this morning at Sports Force Parks at the Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, Ohio. The Pride lost to No. 5 seed Tiffin University (Ohio) by a score of 12-1 in 6 innings and will play No. 8 seed Ferris State University (Mich.) in an elimination game at 1:30 pm (central).