Nonnemacher named NAIA Pitcher of the Year
Her softball season is over, but Nicole Nonnemacher collected one more prize last week — the biggest one of all, in fact.
Not only was the St. Xavier University sophomore a pitching stalwart for her own school, she was also recognized as the NAIA’s best in 2014 by the organization’s All-America selection committee. One of just 20 first-team members nationwide, Nonnemacher was chosen as the national Pitcher of the Year.
That gave the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference a clean sweep of major awards. Olivet Nazarene University second baseman Hannah Gardner was tabbed as the NAIA Player of the Year.
Nonnemacher is the third SXU student-athlete to receive the NAIA’s top award in a sport. Jimmy Coy was the national football Player of the Year in 2012 and softball player Colleen Kilduff, now the head coach at Mother McAuley, was feted eight years before Nonnemacher.
“Nicole being named NAIA Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore is amazing,” Cougars coach Myra Minuskin said. “It is certainly well-earned and deserved.
“Nicole’s work ethic and fierce competitive nature are second to none. This honor will inspire her to achieve an even higher level of greatness [over the next two seasons].”
Nonnemacher, who was selected as the CCAC Pitcher of the Year earlier in May, led the NAIA with a 0.67 earned-run average. She ranked third nationally in per-game strikeouts (10.68) and 16th in wins (21).
Overall, Nonnemacher posted a 21-6 record and held opposing hitters to a meager .153 average over 189 1/3 innings. Sixteen of her 24 starts resulted in shutouts.
Nonnemacher’s sister, senior Megan, wasn’t ignored by the NAIA, either, as she earned honorable mention on the All-America team. The elder Nonnemacher, who recently was named Member of the Year on the Capital One Academic All-America® College Division softball team, went 23-3 in the circle with 25 complete games, 12 shutouts, 164 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA.
“Megan is a two-time NAIA All-American and a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete,” Minuskin said. “Not too many student-athletes boast that on their résumé.
“Megan’s talent, leadership and personality will be sorely missed. I am so grateful for what she has meant to this program and the legacy she leaves.”
Several other Cougars were cited for academics by being chosen as Daktronics Scholar Athletes for the spring season.
To be eligible for the distinction, student-athletes must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and have achieved junior academic status.
Besides Megan Nonnemacher, the softball squad was represented by senior catcher/first baseman Ariel Hinton, junior outfielder Holly Hilden and junior catcher Alex Bahner. A total of 297 softball players from around the country received the honor.
“Academics have always come first in our program and I am so incredibly proud of these four young women for believing in that philosophy,” Minuskin said. “They are true student-athletes and have worked extremely hard to find success in both areas.”
Senior baseball player Tom Keating was also chosen as a Daktronics Scholar Athlete. The St. Laurence grad, one of 257 NAIA ballplayers nationwide to be selected, boasted a 3.65 GPA while majoring in accounting.
On the field, Keating started 49 games at first base and batted .299 with 37 RBI and a team-high 15 doubles. Defensively, he registered a .983 fielding percentage by committing just seven errors in over 400 total chances.
“This type of award means a great deal to me as both an educator and coach because it highlights the academic efforts of a student-athlete,” said former Cougars coach Mike Dooley, who retired from his position at the end of the 2014 season.
“Thomas had a great career with us for three years and I have no doubt that he will have a very successful future.”
A total of six track athletes — four women and two men — were among the 570 chosen nationally as Daktronics Scholar Athletes. Named from the women’s team were fifth-year senior Ashley Shares, seniors Leslie Rosario and Dana Martin and junior Amanda Magee.
Shares graduated summa cum laude and was chosen as SXU’s 2013-14 Sociology Student of the Year. She carried a 3.95 GPA and plans to attend graduate school at Georgia State University, where she will work toward a master’s degree in historic preservation.
Martin graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science and will attend Northwestern University School of Law. She was selected as SXU’s Political Science Student of the Year. Rosario, who held a 3.64 GPA, graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.
Magee, a nursing major with a 3.60 GPA, was also awarded a Schmitt Scholar scholarship.
“All of these young ladies are so special and contribute so much not only to our track program, but the university as a whole,” Cougars coach Lisa Ebel said. “They are involved in so many organizations and activities around campus in addition to their duties as students and athletes. Their time-management skills are second to none and I’m so proud of everything that this group has accomplished at this university.”
Senior Shane Kenney and junior Matt Krakowski were the SXU male track athletes honored. Kenney owned a 3.64 GPA in mass communications, while Krakowski sported a 3.78 GPA in communications.
The two were also effective on the track. Kenney qualified for the NAIA national meet in the 1,000-meter run and was a member of the Cougars’ 1,600-relay quartet that placed third in the CCAC meet. Krakowski was fourth in the 400-dash and sixth in the 200 at the conference meet.
“This is a great honor for Shane and Matt and they deserve it after working so hard to balance the workload of being an athlete and a college student,” SXU coach Ed McAllister said. “They are wonderful examples of what a student-athlete should strive to be and I think they are great ambassadors for St. Xavier University.”
Rounding out the list of Daktronics Scholar Athletes was Brendan Ryan, one of 144 male golfers given the distinction. The accounting major had a 3.66 cumulative GPA.
On the course, Ryan helped the Cougars win the CCAC meet and qualify for the national tournament in the program’s second year of existence. SXU was 24th at the NAIA event.
“I’m so proud of Brendan for earning this special honor,” Cougars coach Mike Mandakas said. “It is not easy to balance the workload of being a college athlete and a successful student, but Brendan definitely makes it look that way. He was a huge part of our success as a team this season and it is great to see him recognized for his hard work in the classroom as well.”