MSU Softball: Vinson Named LSC Player of the Year

CANYON, TX (KAUZ) - Midwestern State's Katelyn Vinson was tabbed the 2016 Lone Star Conference Player of the Year while five Mustangs garnered all-conference accolades, league officials announced Thursday evening at the softball championship banquet.

Vinson became the third player in Midwestern State softball history to earn the LSC Player of the Year honor, joining Brandi Tynes (2004) and Lauren Craig (2010) on the distinguished list. She was joined on the LSC First Team by Haley Howerton while Erin Knox and Baylee Voigt were tabbed second teamers and Amanda Thomas was a third team selection.

Midwestern State's five all-conference selections tied for the second most in the league with Texas Woman's, Cameron and Angelo State while West Texas A&M collected a league-best 11 all-conference honors including pitcher of the year Kilee Halbert, freshman of the year Brittany Cruz and newcomer of the year Shea Ibrahim. WT's Kevin Blaskowski was honored with LSC Coach of the Year accolades.

Vinson paced the Midwestern offense this season with a .432 batting average, 52 RBI, 46 walks and 13 home runs. She led the league with a .791 slugging percentage and ranked second in home runs and walks while making 51 starts at third base this season.

The Southlake native became the LSC career home run leader on Mar. 30 against Oklahoma Christian at Mustangs Park when she broke the record of 62 home runs set by former West Texas A&M outfielder Renee Erwin in 2015. In her senior season, Vinson has extended the career home run mark to 66 while also setting MSU career records in RBI (224) and total bases (488) and sitting atop of the school record books in batting average (.419) and slugging percentage (.827).

Vinson racked up her fourth all-LSC honor, also being named to the first team in 2013 and 2014 while earning second team honors in 2015. She is a 2013 NFCA All-American and South Central Region Player of the Year and was named a top-25 finalist for the 2016 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year award last week.

Howerton was named to the LSC First Team for the first time in her career while garnering her fourth all-conference honor Thursday evening. She was third at the plate for MSU this season with a .389 batting average, making all 56 starts in center field as one of two Mustangs to appear in every starting lineup. Howerton led the squad with 77 hits, 54 runs and 25 stolen bases, ranking second in the league in hits and third in runs scored.

The Lewisville native has also climbed to the top of the school record books in several categories, ranking second in career hits (265), runs (189), stolen bases (80) and at bats (735) while starting in 218 of 219 contests in her four years wearing the Maroon and Gold.

Knox earned her first all-LSC nod after ranking second for the Mustangs in hitting this season with a .401 average at the plate. The junior pitcher/first baseman led MSU with 15 doubles while adding 69 hits, 49 RBI and 10 home runs for second on the squad in 54 starts. In the circle, the West native posted a team-best 4.35 ERA with 11 complete games in 19 appearances and 18 starts for a 9-7 record.

Voigt also collected her first LSC honor, ranking fourth on the team with a .321 average while recording 53 hits, 42 RBI, 12 doubles and 10 home runs in 49 starts as the designated hitter. The Wichita Falls product clinched MSU a postseason berth last weekend with a three-run walk-off home run to give the Mustangs a 5-4 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville at Mustangs Park.

In her first season with the Mustangs, Thomas took home third team honors from the LSC after hitting .294 in 48 starts, primarily behind the plate for MSU. The Marble Falls native recorded 42 hits, 23 runs, 18 RBI and six doubles on the season.

Overall, 43 student-athletes were honored by the all-conference program, with a player from all nine LSC teams. The awards are voted upon by the league coaches, who determined a 16-player first team by position, along with second and third teams, consisting of 15 and 12 players, respectively, regardless of positions.

No. 6 seed Midwestern State opens up play in the LSC Championship tomorrow with an 11 a.m. matchup against No. 3 seed Cameron at West Texas A&M's Schaeffer Park.

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