Western Nevada College made strides on the field to finish fourth in the 2014 Region 18 softball tournament in May. But they also scored in the classroom. WNC led their fellow Scenic West Athletic Conference softball teams in making the grade for the 2013-14 National Junior College Athletic Associationâ€™s All-Academic Teams.
For the third straight year, the Wildcats raised their team grade point average, registering a program-record 3.33 average. The GPA tied the Wildcats for 25th best in the country, not far behind national leader East Central Community College at 3.54.
â€œThat was by far the best semester weâ€™ve ever had,â€ said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. â€œIt says a lot about the girls who were juggling so much academically and athletically. Being a student comes first, and they definitely backed it up in the classroom. I was really proud of them.â€
Salt Lake Community College (3.28) and College of Southern Idaho (3.07) were the other SWAC schools earning All-Academic Team honors.
â€œSalt Lake and CSI are always in it. They are great programs, so to be able to beat them in the classroom is great and hopefully that will carry on to the field,â€ Wentworth said.
Teams must average a 3.0 GPA to earn the All-Academic designation a particular sport.
“Coach Wentworth and her staff have done a commendable job monitoring the academic progress of the softball players,” said John Kinkella, WNC’s dean of student services and director of intercollegiate athletics. “Congratulations to the players and coaches on a job very well done!”
Sophomores Lindsey Ashbaugh and Madison Gonzalez provided the Wildcats with the highest GPAs and were recognized by the NJCAA with Academic Student-Athlete Awards.
â€œHaving players like that on the team, academically absorbing information, they are really helpful to the other girls on the team,â€ Wentworth said. â€œWe also had quite a few players who were recognized on the Deanâ€™s List.â€
Ashbaugh, a pitcher and third baseman, was recognized for superior academic achievement with her 3.83 GPA. Gonzalez, an outfielder and infielder, earned an exemplary academic achievement distinction with a 3.66 GPA.
In the past, Wentworth has credited the teamâ€™s mandatory five-hour study hall per week and tutoring assistance for keeping her players on task in the classroom. Because the teamâ€™s 2014 schedule required a six-week period of road games, the team studied in groups and utilized more one-on-one instruction.
â€œThey always seem to do better in season. The fact that they are busy studying together on the road, that is really a big factor,â€ Wentworth said.
She said itâ€™s important that her players have their priorities in order as a college athlete.
â€œAthletics are that stepping stone,â€ she said. â€œThey are doing a great job with what they need to do in the classroom and thatâ€™s what is going to help them down the road.â€