Coats, Davidson, Thomas, Starr named to All-Heartland softball honor teams

OC senior catcher Martha Thomas was an All-Heartland Conference first-team selection.
OC senior catcher Martha Thomas was an All-Heartland Conference first-team selection.

WACO, Texas (May 1, 2014) – Standout senior Martha Thomas joined freshmen teammates Shea Coats and Niki Davidson in representing Oklahoma Christian on the All-Heartland Conference first-team softball honor squad, released Wednesday.

OC junior Courtney Starr made the second-team list, giving the Lady Eagles four honorees after a season in which they finished third in the regular-season standings and closed the campaign as the conference’s hottest team, winning 22 of their last 25 games. OC will take a 35-14 record into the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament.

Coaches from the league’s nine softball programs voted on the awards.

“We are very pleased that Shea, Niki, Martha and Courtney made the all-conference team,” OC coach Tom Heath said. “There are many quality players in the Heartland Conference and OC was well-represented. We had other players that put up some good numbers that were instrumental in the success of our 2014 softball season.

“It has been a very good year for softball at OC and we still have a good opportunity to finish strong in the post season in the NCCAA tournaments. “

Thomas, a catcher from North Richland Hills, Texas, has been one of the league’s most feared sluggers the past two seasons. This year, she led the conference in on-base percentage (.545) and was third in batting average (.431), fourth in slugging percentage (.808), tied for fourth in home runs (10), eighth in RBIs (40), sixth in runs scored (47), eighth in doubles (13) and third in walks (31).

Thomas, who was a second-team all-conference pick as a junior, has a chance to break OC single-season and career marks for on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

The conference’s decision to not allow players from member schools that are in the NCAA Division II membership process, such as OC, to win individual honors is likely the only thing that kept Coats from being named as the league’s freshman of the year.

The right-handed pitcher from Tuttle went 20-2 with a league-best 1.53 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. Coats also led the conference in saves (a school-record six) and finished third in the league in wins, second in opponents’ batting average (.196) and third in strikeouts despite being only eighth in innings pitched. She won the conference pitcher of the week award each of the final three weeks of the season, honors voted on by league sports information directors.

Davidson, a former Community Christian School standout from Oklahoma City, also had a stellar freshman campaign for the Lady Eagles, hitting .388 with three home runs and 31 RBIs. Davidson, a catcher, also had 12 doubles and a healthy .569 slugging percentage. She ranked 10th in the league in batting average and her on-base percentage of .482 was sixth-best in the conference. She twice was named as the league’s hitter of the week.

Starr, an outfielder from Des Moines, Iowa, was 11th in the league in batting average at .387 and hit six homers while driving in 31 runs. She ranked ninth in the league in slugging percentage at .591, thanks in good part to her 10 doubles.

St. Edward’s (Texas), which finished fourth in the conference during the regular season, had both the player (Kendall Lucas) and pitcher (Sarah Debrow) of the year. Brenda Parnin of Texas A&M International was awarded the freshman of the year honor, while Jennifer Quam of Texas-Permian Basin was named the newcomer of the year. Donna Fields, who guided St. Mary’s (Texas) to a second-place regular-season finish, was chosen as the league’s coach of the year.