St. Catharine, Ky. -- As members of the NAIA, and the Mid-South Conference for just eight years, the St. Catharine College athletic program is still the new kid on the block. But the Patriots have continued to improve and enjoyed what will be termed their most successful year to date in the 2014-2015 campaign.
While the Patriots will not actually unfurl any championship banners, they can reflect on many accomplishments, both athletically and academically. Three teams came within a game of the school’s first MSC tournament title as the men’s soccer, softball and baseball teams were all runner-up the past season. The baseball team and the soccer team also finished in second place during the regular season.
Due to the teams’ successes, honors were garnered by the coaches of the Patriot teams. Women’s golf coach Joan Rizer was named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year as was Tim Wolz in men’s soccer and Luther Bramblett in baseball. Wolz also was honored as the Southeast Region Coach of the year.
St. Catharine College athletes also enjoyed the best year in the school’s history in accumulating dozens of Mid-South Conference honors. Player of the Week awards were sent St. Catharine’s way 24 times during 2014-2015. Senior right-hander John Werner was named MSC Pitcher of the Week five times and senior goalkeeper C.J. Powell was men’s soccer Defensive Player of the Week five times.
Further Mid-South Conference recognition went to three Patriots for stellar performances throughout an entire season. Werner was named Pitcher of the Year in the MSC, Jodie Klein won the volleyball Libero (defensive specialist) of the Year and Ashley Woods was men’s soccer Player of the Year.
Thirty-three Patriots were named to first and second team All Mid-South Conference teams. Three baseball players (Alfredo Bohorquez – second base, Drew Kissel – catcher, Harold Diaz – outfield) received the MSC Gold Glove award for defensive excellence.
The biggest post-season news for the Bat Pats came days ago when John Werner, the senior right-hander from Anaheim, Calif., was selected in the Major League draft by the Texas Rangers. Werner is the fifth Patriot player to be selected in the Major league draft and the 17th player who will play at some level of professional baseball.
Patriot teams also drew national attention as four teams (baseball, wrestling, men’s soccer and volleyball) received votes for the NAIA top 25 at some point during their respective seasons. Individuals were also recognized nationally as Steven Borkowski was the NAIA National Pitcher of the Week and B.J. Carman was named NAIA National Wrestler of the Week. Jordan Strickland (volleyball) was third team NAIA All-American while her teammate Rebecca Just was NAIA All-American Honorable Mention as was Ashley Woods in soccer. Three wrestlers, Carman, Mike Clark and Andy Lenz, made it to the NAIA National Tournament in the first year St. Catharine has fielded a wrestling team. The baseball team also made their first ever trip in the history of the program to the NAIA Opening Round.
While the list of awards for performances on the field is impressive, the year just completed was also a winner outside the lines. A total of 62 Patriot athletes were named Academic All Mid-South Conference. Twenty-two of those were also named Daktronics Scholar Athletes which recognizes academic achievements on the national level. Those individual academic awards led to the best year for teams overall as student/athletes achieved the highest grade point average since St. Catharine joined the NAIA. Fourteen of the 21 athletic teams were above a 3.0 GPA during the last academic year.
Recognition also came to St. Catharine in the NAIA program titled Champions of Character which encompasses five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. St. Catharine again received the distinction of a Champion of Character institution by meeting certain criteria.
And, what can be considered the highest honor of all came just last week at the spring meeting of the Mid-South Conference. Kelsey Brooks, a senior from Bloomfield, Ky. who played second base on the softball team, was awarded the Character First award. Earlier in the softball season Brooks received the MSC Champion of Character award. That award went to one recipient from each of the 10 female sports sponsored by the conference. That pool of ten individuals was then considered for the Character First award that was voted on by the athletic directors.
“That is quite an honor for Kelsey and a great reflection on her personal character,” said St. Catharine athletic director Tom Bystrek.
Bystrek added, “We are proud of her and our entire athletic department for what has been accomplished. The championships will no doubt come soon but it is good to see that in the meantime our student athletes have excelled in many areas both on and off the field.”