NEW HAVEN, Conn. - - Heading into postseason play, the Wilmington University softball team learned that six student-athletes were voted to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference All-Conference Teams and the team captured the 2022 CACC Team Sportsmanship Award, as the conference announced the news on Tuesday.
The Wildcats were led by two First Team All-CACC performers in Lauren Lopez and Kylee Gunkel while adding four Second Team All-CACC performers in Emma Zimmerman, Gabbie Saucedo, Renamarie Rocha, and Haley Downin.
Graduate student Lauren Lopez (Burbank, Calif./John Burroughs) is no stranger to the All-CACC Team First Team, but it is the first time she's earned the award at shortstop. She was named the First Team All-CACC third baseman as a sophomore in 2019 and the Second Team All-CACC third baseman as a freshman in 2018. This year, she is fourth on the team with a .358 batting average, sitting second overall with 28 RBI. Her .358 batting average is 18th in the CACC while her 53 hits are 10th and her 28 RBI rank 15th. The move to shortstop hasn't hindered her defensively, as she is second in the CACC in turning double plays and seventh overall with 78 assists on the year.
Freshman Kylee Gunkel (Highland, Md./Reservoir) started the first game of the year for the Wildcats and never relinquished the lead role. She is 15-10 in the circle with a 3.04 earned run average and 120 strikeouts to only 32 walks. Her 15 wins rank third in the CACC while her five shutouts are second most in the conference. She is carrying a 6.40 strikeouts per game ratio into the postseason, ranking fifth best in the CACC. Her 131.1 innings are third most in the CACC. She struck out a season's best 10 batters against Bloomfield on April 23. She tossed shutouts against Rollins, Holy Family, Georgian Court, Bloomfield, and Nyack.
Emma Zimmerman (Aberdeen, Md./Aberdeen) has been the backstop for the two All-CACC pitchers and has more than held her own at the plate in her first collegiate season. She is fifth in the CACC with a .398 batting average, fifth with a .465 on-base percentage, and 12th overall with a .591 slugging percentage. She leads the league in throwing out would-be base stealers, gunning down 11 runners. She is fourth on the team with 20 RBI and tied atop the team lead with three triples. She hit her lone home run of the year in a 3-for-3 effort against Georgian Court, adding two doubles as well.
Gabbie Saucedo (Orange, Calif./El Modena) has played every game in left field for the Wildcats in her freshman campaign. She heads into the postseason leading the Wildcats with 29 RBI, ranking 12th in the CACC. She is 13th in the CACC with 10 doubles and is 19th in the league with a .357 batting average. She's had a season high three hits twice this year, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI in game one against Felician and then batted 3-for-4 with two RBI in game two at Dominican. She's hit safely in 13 of the last 15 games heading into the postseason.
Renamarie Rocha (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago) settled into the team's number two pitcher and now has the best winning percentage in the league at 11-2 overall. She is fifth in the CACC with her 11 wins and currently leads the CACC with three saves. Her 111.0 innings pitched are 12th in the CACC while her 56 strikeouts are 13th overall in the league. She is carrying a 2.84 earned run average into the postseason, ranking fifth in the league. Her three saves came against Millersville, Adelphi, and Caldwell. She's struck out a season's best eight batters twice, first in game two at Millersville and then in a complete game shutout win over Bloomfield.
Haley Downin (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake) is now a two-time All-CACC performer after being named to the First Team as the utility/pitcher as a freshman last season. Her .349 batting average is fifth on the team and 22nd in the CACC. Of her 44 hits this year, 13 have gone for doubles, ranking second in the CACC. She also has 21 RBI and 24 runs scored this year while mainly playing second base. In the circle, Downin has appeared in 14 games, making eight starts and is 3-4 overall. In 56.1 inning pitched, she has 33 strikeouts and a 4.97 earned run average. She has tossed four complete games this year.
Georgian Court's Kaitlyn Stufft was voted the conference's Player of the Year while her teammate Mikayla Gilgert took home the CACC Pitcher of the Year award. Caldwell earned the other Major Awards as outfielder Jessica Klein was voted the CACC Rookie of the Year and her coach Dean Johnson was voted the CACC Coach of the year by the league's sports information directors.
It is the first time in program history the Wildcats earned the CACC Team Sportsmanship Award.
The Wildcats begin the CACC Tournament on Thursday as the No. 2 seed. They will face No. 7 Bloomfield in the first round on Thursday at Georgian Court. The first pitch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in Lakewood, New Jersey.
2022 CACC Softball All-Conference Teams:
1B Kaitlyn Stufft (Georgian Court University)
2B Taylor Mischler (Caldwell University)
3B Courtney Grundhauser (Caldwell University)
SS Lauren Lopez (Wilmington University)
C Adriana Mungo (Georgian Court University)
OF Emma Cooney (Caldwell University)
OF Jessica Klein (Caldwell University)
OF Jadalynn Rodriguez (Georgian Court University)
P Mariah Culver (Caldwell University)
P Mikayla Gilgert (Georgian Court University)
P Kylee Gunkel (Wilmington University)
DP Allison Winters (Caldwell University)
UTIL PLAYER Alexis Velotta (Felician University)
UTIL PITCHER Ashley Remington (Holy Family University)
1B Maya Rodriguez (Caldwell University)
2B Carly Setting (Goldey-Beacom College)
3B Elaina Hansen (Holy Family University)
SS Ashleigh Tavaska (Caldwell University)
C Emma Zimmerman (Wilmington University)
OF Kiara Meikle (Georgian Court University)
OF Kristin Miscia (Dominican College)
OF Gabbie Saucedo (Wilmington University)
P Kayla Daly (Caldwell University)
P Gianna DeLorenzo (Thomas Jefferson University)
P Renamarie Rocha (Wilmington University)
DP Madison Walker (Dominican College)
UTIL PLAYER Kasey Jusino (Post University)
UTIL PITCHER Haley Downin (Wilmington University)
2022 CACC Player of the Year: Kaitlyn Stufft (Georgian Court University)
2022 CACC Pitcher of the Year: Mikayla Gilgert (Georgian Court University)
2022 CACC Rookie of the Year: Jessica Klein (Caldwell University)
2022 CACC Coach of the Year: Dean Johnson (Caldwell University)
2022 CACC Team Sportsmanship Award: Wilmington University