UT Tyler Athletics
TYLER, TX (Press Release)- The storybook ending to the magical career of Kelsie Batten has received a fitting epilogue.
A senior pitcher for UT Tyler, Batten has been named the inaugural winner of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award after leading the Patriots to the NCAA DIII National Championship and finishing her career as a four-time NFCA All-American.
"This award means so much to me," Batten said. "It feels great to have my hard work recognized. I couldn't have done this without my teammates and coaches, or without the support my university and my family. Without them, this award wouldn't be possible so I owe them a lot. Receiving this my senior year is special because I finished my career in the best way that I could."
Batten (36-4) was named the NCAA DIII Championship's Most Outstanding Player after earning four wins and amassing 38 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched in Salem. That performance included a pair of nine strikeout games against St. John Fisher and then a 10 strikeout win over Messiah in her final start of the season to match a career-high.
Her 36 wins this season led the nation and are the fourth most in a season in NCAA DIII history and only four behind Jennifer Segner who had 40 wins for Muskingum in 2000 for the national record. The Huntington native finished her career with 118 career victories which are the third most in the history of the sport and only six shy of matching Hayley Feindel who recorded 124 wins for Coast Guard from 2009-12.
Batten, who established a new American Southwest Conference record with 13 shutouts this season, ran her record-setting career record up with 25 wins as a freshman, 28 in her sophomore season, 29 last season and then her 36-win senior campaign which included four wins at the NCAA DIII Championship in Salem. She would strike out the final out of the year to give her 555 strikeouts in her career which is the most in program history and only one behind Sandi Clark who had 556 strikeouts in her Louisiana College career.
A right-hander who threw a one-hit shutout in the first game of her career in an 8-0 win over Mary Hardin-Baylor on Feb. 16, 2013, Batten went on to establish every pitching record in program history including wins (118), saves (8), appearances (158), starts (134), complete games (79), shutouts (40), combined shutouts (19), innings pitched (817 1/3), strikeouts (555), strikeouts looking (186) and batters faced (3,183). Batten's senior season was her best as she would set program records with her 36 wins, 13 shutouts and 194 strikeouts. The 13 shutouts, the final one coming in the 3-0 win over Messiah in the first NCAA DIII Championship finals game, broke the ASC record which was previously owned by Rene Schwartzenberg who had 12 in 2010 for LC. The 13 shutouts are the second most in DIII this season behind only Lindsey Thayer who had 16 in her sophomore season for St. John Fisher.
A vital part to a senior class of seven which went 187-22 over the past four seasons, Batten exits the stage with her four NFCA All-America honors, four NFCA All-Region selections, four ASC First-Team All-Conference career honors, 17 career ASC Pitcher of the Week honors and most importantly, a national championship.
Rowan University senior shortstop Shilah Snead and St. John Fisher College sophomore pitcher Lindsey Thayer were the other two finalists for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year. All three players helped their teams be one of the eight squads that advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship in Salem. The initial NFCA Watch List included UT Tyler's Batten, Lexi Ackroyd, Vanessa Carrizales, KK Stevens and Jackie Mendez.
All three players were in the initial watch list group of 50 at the start of the season and remained on the list through cuts to 25 and 10 finalists, respectively. The list was a collaborative effort between the NFCA's Division III Head Coaches and All-America committees.