Drifon, Pa. - The Lady Lions hard work in 2016 was rewarded by the Penn State University Athletic Conference on Sunday when the annual All-Conference awards were announced during the championship tournament hosted by Penn State Hazleton. Four Lady Lions earned nods from the conference along with head coach Rich Lipinski for their performances this season. Sophomore Kayla Rhome (Marysville, Pa.), sophomore Vanessa Michael (Bloomsburg, Pa.), and freshman Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) were named first team all-conference, while sophomomre Sara Stauffer (Mifflinburg, Pa.) was named second team all-conference. Michael's efforts were so outstanding, the slugging right fielder was named player of the year in the PSUAC.
Vanessa Michael (RF/1B) - 1st Team All-Conference & 2016 PSUAC Player of the Year
The sophomore hit .414 in her first season in a Lady Lion uniform and led both the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and PSUAC in RBI with 48 runs driven in. Michael was a force in the middle of the Hazleton order all season, notching 14 multi-hit games, 11 multi-RBI performances and slugged seven home runs to lead the squad and rank second best in the conference. The sophomore was named player of the week by the PSUAC back on March 16, for a stretch of games in Titusville, Fl. where Michael hit three home runs and drove in six RBI in a pair of wins over Delaware Valley University and Iowa Wesleyan. Michael hit two grand slams in 2016 in a pair of monster offensive outputs, racking up seven RBI against Cairn University and a season best eight RBI versus Penn State New Kensington.
Kayla Rhome (P/1B) - 1st Team All-Conference
Rhome followed up an All-American year in 2015 with another outstanding season as the ace of the Lady Lion pitching staff. Rhome was a three-time pitcher of the week in the PSUAC and named national pitcher of the week by the USCAA back on April 5. The sophomore ranked fifth in the USCAA and first in the PSUAC in earned run average with a mark of 2.03 runs per game and led all pitchers in the PSUAC with 121 strikeouts, the fourth most nationally. Rhome tossed 15 complete games in 2016, finishing the season with a record of 14-6 and a pair of no-hitters to her credit coming against Summit University and SUNY Delhi.
Samantha Varela (UTL/P) - 1st Team All-Conference
The multi-talented freshman hit 15 extra base hits this season including nine doubles and six home runs. Varela drove in 38 runners, good for second best on the squad behind Michael and the fifth most in the USCAA. Varela was named national player of the week by the USCAA on April 5 for her performance against SUNY Delhi. In the two game series, Varela hit three home runs and knocked in a career high 10 RBI going five for six at the plate. Varela had seperate hitting streaks of seven and eight games and picked up game winning hits in four games this season including a game-winning home run in the playoff game versus Penn State Beaver on May 7.
Sara Stauffer (CF/P) 2nd Team All-Conference
In her second season as a Lady Lion, Stuaffer hit .383 with four home runs for the season, driving in 28 runs for third best on the team. Over an nine game stretch from March 18 to April 13, the sophomore collected eight multi-hit games including two hits in seven straight contests. Stauffer led the squad with nine stolen bases and tied for second on the team with four wins from the circle, sporting a 2.10 earned run average over 40 innings pitched.
Head Coach Rich Lipinski (1st Season) Coach of the Year
Lipinski along with Brandywine's Mark Caserta were named coaches of the year for the 2016 season. Lipinski led the team to a 23-14 record in his first season as interim head coach a third place finish in the PSUAC Championship tournament and a berth as the number six seed in the USCAA National Tournament. The coach's squad spent nearly all season ranked inside the top ten of the USCAA coaches poll and picked up 10 wins over NCAA-3 and NAIA teams in 2016.