Six Earn NFCA Scholar-Athlete Awards
Academic honors acknowledge Spartan standouts
East Lansing, Mich. -- - The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has announced its All-America Scholar-Athlete honors for the 2016-17 academic year, which includes six Spartan student-athletes.
For the Spartans, 2017 graduate Sarah Gutknecht, current seniors Lea Foerster, Bridgette Rainey, and Kristina Zalewski, and juniors Kaitlyn Eveland and Kelly Zackrison made the list of honorees. Nominees had to be of at least sophomore standing earning a 3.5 grade-point average or higher.
“A point of pride in our program is that our student-athletes are high achievers in the classroom,” noted head coach Jacquie Joseph, who guided the 2017 Spartans to a post-season NISC berth and 34-24 overall record. “A Big Ten education is a world-class education, and our players are absolutely giving their all not only to us on the field but also in the classroom. More than half of our team earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, six here are honored by the NFCA, and a player like Lea Foerster is both an All-American and an Academic All-American. That takes hard work and dedication in all areas of your life, and I could not be prouder that these young women wear the Green and White.”
With 7,351 softball players across seven membership divisions receiving honors, NCAA Division I led the way with 1,843 student-athletes.
A total of ten Spartans were all Academic All-Big Ten honorees in the spring, while four (Foerster, Gutknecht, Rainey, and Zalewski) were Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, posting a 3.7 GPA or better in the 2016-17 academic year.
Foerster and Zalewski each earned other national academic honors – Foerster was a CoSIDA Second Team All-America with a 3.7 GPA as a kinesiology major, while Zalewski was a First Team CoSIDA All-District pick. She boasted a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA and earned her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Science and minor in Bioethics last summer. She is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Foerster ended her 2017 season as a Second Team NFCA All-American, while she and Eveland both earned All-Big Ten honors as well.