State College, Pa. - Monday marked the end of the Penn State University Athletic Conference softball season at Beard Field and along with that conclusion came the announcement of the PSUAC's 2018 All-Conference Team. Three Hazleton players earned conference awards on Monday including the top honors in the sport with junior Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) being named the PSUAC's player of the year.
Varela earned a nod as the league's top utility player as the junior was plugged into the lineup as a designated hitter, corner outfielder and first baseman throughout the season. Adding to her resume, Varela served as Hazleton's ace from the circle, starting 11 games for Hazleton in 2018 and finishing the year with a 3.57 earned run average. The junior's versatility and value both defensively and at the plate proved unmatched when compared to competitors around the league. In her third season with the Lady Lions, the junior slugged 10 home runs in just 28 games, hit .481 at the dish and drove in 35 runs. On April 17, Varela hit three home runs to pass former United States Collegiate Athletic Association All-American teammate, Andrea Quillman as Hazleton's all-time leading home run hitter ending the season with a career total of 24 round trippers.
Equally impressive on the year was the performance of sophomore catcher Erin Schmick (Macungie, Pa.) who took home second team honors in her position. Schmick started the year on an 0-10 skid in the team's first six games of the year but caught fire as the season progressed to finish her sophomore campaign with hits in 20 of the her final 22 appearances including seven multi-hit efforts. The sophomore wrapped up the season with an impressive .432 batting average, clubbing a pair of home runs and 24 RBI to finish out her career.
Last but not least to be recognized were the efforts of freshman second baseman Kylee Sutton (Easton, Pa.) who ranked third on team with a .398 batting average that included a stellar 13 game hit streak and ranked second on the squad in runs scored with 29 tallies. Sutton proved to be a gem both on the field and in the dugout for Hazleton, earning honors as the John Fritz Sportsmanship award recipient.