INDIANOLA, Iowa - Led by first team selections Riley Fisher and Tori Haag, the Simpson softball team placed four players on the 2016 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Midwest Region Team, as announced earlier this week.
In addition to Fisher and Haag, Rachel Guessford and Abbie VanVleet earned third team honors as at-large picks, giving the Storm their most all-region selections since 2008. Fisher and Haag are the first players to land first team honors since Ashley Prettyman in 2013.
Haag closes her career as a three-time all-region performer, adding to her second team honors in 2014 and third team honors in 2015. Fisher was a third team pick last season and VanVleet earned second team honors in 2014. Guessford makes her first appearance on the all-region team.
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 25 online at NFCA.org and in-person at the NCAA Division III Championship banquet in Salem, Va.
A senior pitcher and designated player from Des Moines, Iowa, Fisher earned first team honors as a utility player. A dual-threat both in the circle and at the plate, Fisher was also a first team all-Iowa Conference pick. She led Simpson in wins and ERA, going 15-4 with a 2.42 ERA. Her four saves led the Midwest Region and tied a school record. Her five shutouts were sixth in the region and she amassed 132 strikeouts, the most by a Simpson pitcher since 2012.
A senior from Waukee, Iowa, Haag will go down as one of the top offensive players in school history. Simpson's career leader in hits, doubles, total bases and times hit by pitch, Haag led the team with a .387 batting average and 14 doubles in 2016. She hit 10 home runs and had 36 RBIs, throwing out nine would-be-basestealers from behind the plate. She was named MVP of the season-opening Finlandia Dome Tournament in Marquette, Mich. and earned IIAC Player of the Week honors on Feb. 28.
A senior from Des Moines, Iowa, Guessford enjoyed a career season in 2016. The slugger led the Midwest Region and ranked eighth in the country with 12 home runs, the second-best single-season total in school history. Her 44 RBIs led the Iowa Conference and ranked sixth in the region, coming up one shy of tying the school record. She hit .357 for the year and committed just three errors in 340 chances at first base.
A senior from Indianola, Iowa, VanVleet went 14-4 with a 2.55 ERA in more than 100 innings in the circle. At the plate she hit .305 with five home runs and 20 RBIs, piecing together a highly productive career since transferring to Simpson from Northern Iowa in 2014. In 124 games, she hit .340 with 15 home runs and 83 RBIs. She made 71 appearances on the mound, going 43-11 with a 2.43 ERA and 215 strikeouts.
The Storm and interim head coach Kyle Owens went 31-11 in 2016, finishing second in the Iowa Conference standings and qualifying for the regional round of the NCAA Championship for the second year in a row. Simpson went 1-2 at the Decorah Regional.
Head coach in waiting, Brent Matthias, will take over the team in the fall.