FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WINTHROP, Mass. – A total of 12 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) softball student-athletes garnered 2018 All-Region recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), as announced by the organization on Wednesday, including three on the Northeast Region First Team in Johnson & Wales University (RI) senior Jennifer Corona and Tiffani Semanchik and Suffolk University senior Delaney Sylvester.
JWU led the way with five selections, as designated player Katie Rufo was a Second-Team selection while utility player Kristin Frost and third baseman Meghan Gavin garnered Third-Team recognition. The five selections are the sixth-most of any team in the country and equal last year's team for the most all-region selections in program history.
Suffolk had three selections overall. Delaney Sylvester represented the Rams on the first team for the second straight season and second time in her career, while Payton Sylvester and Taylor Holmes picked up their first all-region nods on the second and third teams, respectively.
Also collecting NFCA all-region honors were Emmanuel College junior Olivia Burgos (Newington, Conn.) to the Second Team and University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) sophomore McKenna Driscoll as a Third Team choice.
After a pair of second-team selections, this is Corona's first first-team honor. The GNAC Tournament MVP, she was also named to the TCNJ regional all-tournament team. Corona finished the season as the GNAC leader in wins (17), ERA (1.49) and strikeouts (154). The Middle Island, NY native threw her second career no-hitter against Simmons on April 21. Nationally ranked for wins and strikeouts, Corona ended her career as the JWU all-time leader in wins and innings.
Semanchik finished her career as the program's all-time leader in batting average at .439 after hitting .444 this year to rank fifth in the league. During conference games, she was tops with a .529 batting average and .566 on-base percentage. Named GNAC Player of the Week on April 2, the Flemington, NJ, native had an 18-game hitting streak, the second-longest in school history.
This is the second major award this week for Rufo as earlier she was named CoSIDA Academic All-District. The Natick, Mass. native earned her second All-NFCA award by ranking fourth in the conference with seven home runs and a .678 slugging percentage. Rufo also rated third with 42 RBIs and her 12 doubles were seventh. Rufo concluded her career on the JWU all-time charts for batting average, RBIs, doubles and home runs. This season she cracked the single-season charts for RBIs, home runs and doubles.
Frost split time this year between left field and the pitching circle to earn her second All-NFCA honor. Named to the GNAC All-Tournament team, she hit .360 which improved to .404 against conference team. The GNAC Player of the Week on April 30, Frost ranked fourth in home runs and eighth for RBIs. In the circle, she's fifth in the league with a 2.23 ERA to go along with eight wins and a .221 opponent batting average.
The last two seasons Gavin has been on the cusp of all-region honors before breaking through in 2018. A three-time All-GNAC selection, she was the league leader with 22 stolen bases and named to the GNAC All-Tournament team. Gavin also ranks fifth in GNAC for runs scored and sixth in walks. The Wallingford, Conn. native is hitting .359 with a .412 on-base percentage to go along with 15 multi-hit games.
With her spot on the first time this year, Delaney Sylvester has earned all-region recognition in each of her four seasons at Suffolk, the first Ram to do so. She is the fourth-ever player to garner a pair of first-team all-region nods adding these accomplishments to extensive list she racked up over her four years in blue-and-gold, including 2018 GNAC Player of the Year, four all-league accolades (three first-team nods) and a pair of all-conference tournament team selections.
Delaney Sylvester never rested on her laurels and saved her best for last with the catcher from Worcester, Massachusetts, producing a career senior season. She produced league-leading numbers in batting average (.467), homers (10) and RBI (45) with 25 extra-base hits to go along with 35 runs scored. She was tabbed one of the nation's toughest players to strikeout in 2018 as just two pitchers sat Sylvester down this season in her 122 times at the plate.
Along the way to leading Suffolk to its third GNAC regular season title in the past four seasons, Delaney Sylvester rewrote the Rams record books with her most notable mark coming on the all-time hits list as she displaced the former 10-year record holder, Suffolk Hall of Famer Jess Ferreira, with a two-RBI double at Simmons in the regular season finale for her 228th career hit. Delaney Sylvester capped off her career with 231 career knocks and appears on nearly every offensive chart in Suffolk's annals including the second spot in homers (32), RBI (167) and total bases (370).
While Delaney Sylvester wrapped up her Suffolk playing days this year, her younger sister, Payton Sylvester, just got started. The rookie who split her time in the circle and at short, garnered a spot on the second team after landing just behind her older sister in every offensive category. The 2018 GNAC Rookie of the Year registered 54 hits including a league-best 18 doubles and seven bombs for 40 RBI on a .419 connection rate at the plate with 39 runs scored and eight stolen bases. In the circle, she put together a 10-3 record over 59.1 innings with 59 strikeouts and a staff-best 1.42 ERA, which was good for second on the team.
Similar to her sister, Payton Sylvester had a handful of highlighted performances in her first season in a Suffolk jersey. She went 5-for-5 in a convincing 23-2, five-inning win over Anna Maria March 31 with three consecutive bombs for 15 total bases and nine RBI. Those numbers still remain the best amongst NCAA DIII individuals in a single-game this season. The same day Delaney set the hit record, she held the Sharks hitless with the first known no-hitter in Suffolk softball history.
Holmes completes the history setting trifecta after a stand-up senior season. The Ashford, Connecticut, product became the first pitcher to take home all-region honors in the Jaclyn Davis era. The first-team all-conference selection, earned the recognition, after commanding the circle with an unbeaten 10-0 regular-season record. Overall, she put together a career-high 1.91 ERA through 66.0 innings of work scattered over 13 appearances and 12 starts and sat down 58 hitters.
The Simmons pair become the first Sharks softball players named All-Region since Mikaela Caracciolo was tabbed to the Third Team in 2015, and Del Vacchio is the first player selected to the Second Team or higher since Emily Cunningham earned Second Team honors at first base on the 2014 squad.
Del Vacchio is tabbed for the Second Team at second base after being selected to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference First Team a week ago. The sophomore was one of the most dynamic hitters in the league, ranking among the top 10 in nine offensive categories. She was second among league leaders with a .514 on-base percentage, while owning a .686 slugging mark from the leadoff spot to place ninth among GNAC players. The middle infielder batted .424 (50-118) to rank 10th among league leaders and led the league with 43 runs scored. Her run total ranks second in school history for the most in a season at Simmons and scored at least one run in seven straight games from April 7-14. The five-foot, two-inch Del Vacchio socked a team-high six home runs to place her eighth in the league, while her nine stolen bases was good for 16th. The Communications major racked up 50 hits to place 10th in the league and stand as the second-highest total in school annals, while her 20 walks was second for GNAC players. Del Vacchio added 13 doubles to place fourth in the league as part of 81 total bases to rank eighth among GNAC rivals. The Vista Murrieta High School product reached base via hit, walk or being hit by a pitch in 36 of 41 games that she played and failed to reach base in consecutive games just once. She was named the GNAC Player of the Week for April 2-8 and put together a team-best eight-game hitting streak from March 30 to April 8 that saw her hit .583 (14-24) during the stretch. Del Vacchio led the team with 16 multi-hit efforts, including a string of four straight outings with two or more base knocks. She also recorded 75 infield assists for the ninth-most in school history.
The West Coast native has started all 80 games that she appeared in and owns a .389 (91-234) career batting mark for the fourth-highest average in school history, while her .480 on-base percentage puts her fourth and her .585 slugging mark places her fifth. The second-year player also has 14 stolen bases to rank second, 22 doubles to place fourth and 36 walks to place sixth on the Sharks' career list. Del Vacchio stands ninth at Simmons with 137 total bases and seventh with 136 fielding assists.
Hennessey earns a spot on the Third Team as an At-Large selection and was also chosen a GNAC First Teamer last week. She was one of the most productive hitters in the conference. The sophomore was among the league leaders in runs batted in for the entire season and finished the year ranked fourth with 39 RBI, which was also good for the third-most in school history. The center fielder batted .372 (45-121) to rank second on the team and ranked fifth among league leaders with four triples as part of 67 total bases for a .554 slugging percentage. She drew 13 walks for the 10th-most in the conference to contribute to a .420 on-base mark. In addition, Hennessey scored 31 runs and rapped out 45 hits to rank 14th among GNAC leaders. The outfielder struck fear into opposing base runners with a throwing arm that often prevented them from taking extra bases and a glove that committed just one error, prior to closing out the season with 50 chances without a miscue. A graduate of Shepherd Hill Regional High School, Hennessey recorded 12 multi-RBI efforts, including a career-high of five that saw her hit a grand slam home run at Regis (Mass.) on April 7. She put together a six-game stretch that saw her hit .600 (12-20) with nine RBI and nine runs scored from April 8-14.
For her career, Hennessey has batted .366 (89-243) for the sixth-highest batting mark in school history, while driving in 62 runs to rank seventh. She also places sixth on the school's career list with a .413 on-base percentage and a .539 slugging mark, while starting all 81 games the team has played.
For Burgos, it marks the first time since 2015 that an Emmanuel player has earned All-Region honors when both Catherine Davis ('16) and Jill Kilcoyne ('17) earned First Team honors.
All-Region players are nominated and selected by NFCA member coaches in each of the eight Division III regions. First team All-Region choices are eligible for selection to the NFCA All-America team, which will be announced the evening of May 23 online at NFCA.org and in person at the NCAA Division III Championship banquet in Oklahoma City.
Burgos earns All-Region honors in the Utility position after arguably one of the best all-around seasons in Emmanuel softball history. She led the team with a .407 batting average while also slugging .714 which ranks second all-time among EC for single-season numbers. The utility player cracked eight home runs to rank tied for second in the GNAC while tying the Emmanuel single-season record while her 100 total bases led the GNAC and is also a new EC standard. She recorded 24 extra base hits to rank second in the conference and also executed six sacrifice bunts to rank fourth-most in the GNAC and during the year also recorded her 100th career hit. In the pitching circle, Burgos posted a 10-7 record with a 3.23 ERA, striking out 67 batters over 93 1/3 innings. She worked in four complete game shutouts and tossed nine complete games during the year. She was also tabbed to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) All-Conference squad earlier this month as a member of the All-Conference Third Team.
USJ's Driscoll was an All-GNAC Second Team choice this spring after slashing .413/.486/554 for the Blue Jays. She drove in 25, scored 15 runs and had 10 extra-base hits.
Information Provided by EMMANUEL, JWU, SIMMONS & SUFFOLK Athletics Communications.
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.
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