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Softball - Sat, May 6, 2017

McPherson, KS – May 6, 2017 – Earlier this week, the A.I.I. Conference has announced their All-Conference awards for the 2017 softball season.

The Tigers, who had a rocky start to the year, going winless for the first month and a half of the season, bounced back to finish year by winning 9 of their last 15 starts. They were rewarded for that finish by having two player recognized at the conference level with post season honors.

Kasi Kraus, who did a little bit of everything for the Tigers again this year was named to the conference's first team as a utility player. Kraus batted at the top of the Tiger line up, either leading off or in the two hole, all season. She finished second on the team in batting average, hitting .343 with 46 hits, and led the team in runs scored with 30. She was also the team's leading pitchers, throwing a staggering 123.1 innings this season, and finishing with a 6.58 ERA. When she wasn't in the pitching circle, she also played First base. Her .985 fielding percentage at pitcher / first base was second on the team, and she compiled 138 putouts, and 63 assists.

Joining Kraus on the All-Conference team was sophomore outfielder Mariah Grijalva, who was named to the A.I.I.'s 2nd Team. Grijalva was the Tigers' primary leadoff hitter for the majority of the season. She hit .342 for the year good, for third on the team and one percentage point behind Kraus. For the year, she had 41 hits including one double and one triple, and scored 23 runs. Defensively she anchored the Tiger outfield in centerfield and had a .863 fielding percentage with 38 putouts and 6 assists. Once she got on base, her speed made her a threat to steal from any base. She wrapped up the year with 16 stolen bases in 18 tries.

Also garnering post season accolades was freshman catcher, Rayne Wright. Wright was voted by the A.I.I. coaches as this season's Newcomer of the Year. In her freshman campaign, Wright played in 40 of the team's 45 games, and led the Tigers in hitting with a .374 batting average. She had 40 hits including 7 doubles, and 4 homeruns giving her a .551 slugging percentage, which was tops on the team as well. In the field, she spent most of her time behind the plate, but also played some in left field. At those two positions she had a combined fielding percentage of .988, committing just one error all season.

The great news for the Tigers is that all three players will be back next year, and will be a formidable trio. Kraus will look to end her Tiger career with a strong senior season, Wright will be hungry to improve on what was a fantastic rookie year, and Grijalva will continued to pick up steam into her junior season as she has gotten better each year. Coach Ritchhart has a strong recruiting class coming in next year, and with Wright, Kraus, and Grijalva at the core of the returners, things are definitely looking up for the Tigers softball program.