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Kendall Smith slides into home during game against Florida Atlantic on Sunday, March 31, 2019. WKU won the game with a final score of 10-2.

Five WKU softball players have received Conference USA recognition for their performances in the 2019 regular season.

“After being tabbed to finish seventh in the Preseason Poll with zero All-Conference selections, this is a true testament to how hard these athletes have worked and how well they performed,” head coach Amy Tudor said in a press release. “I’m extremely proud of each young lady for their accomplishment."

Sophomore catcher Kendall Smith earned First-Team All-Conference recognition, while junior pitcher Kelsey Aikey and senior outfielders Shannon Plese and Jordan Vorbrink earned Second Team. Freshman pitcher Kennedy Sullivan was also selected for the All-Freshman Team.

As a freshman, Smith made the C-USA All-Tournament Team, and this year becomes the first Hilltopper to collect first-team honors since 2015. Smith leads WKU in home runs this season with 12. She also has eight doubles and a triple. 

Smith also holds a team-best 91 total bases off of 45 hits. The catcher has 386 putouts, 29 assists, a .990 fielding percentage, has thrown out eight runners and picked off another.

Aikey, the first Hilltopper to collect an all-conference honor in the circle since 2015, led the conference with 174 strikeouts, an opposing batting average of .183, 9.6 strikeouts per seven innings and six saves. She is the only pitcher in the league—and one of three in the nation—to own at least 14 wins and six saves. 

Plese, who earned Second-Team All-C-USA recognition, has posted 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and a .349/.429/.591 slash line this season. She holds the team best of 38 runs off of 52 hits while also collecting 34 RBIs.

In the outfield, she recorded 56 putouts, an assist and many plays to get the Hilltoppers out of jams. She started all 49 games in the outfield this season.

The other outfielder to earn second-team honors was Vorbrink, who posted a .339/.456/.464 slash line while collecting 38 hits, 19 runs and 14 RBIs. She went 6 for 6 on the bases while collecting 58 putouts and three assists.

Sullivan’s recognition made the fifth-straight season a Hilltopper has collected an all-freshman recognition. Sullivan had a .286 batting average and tallied 38 hits, 22 runs, 11 doubles, four home runs, 30 RBIs and seven sacrifice flies, which is second in the nation.

She posted a 16-4 record in the circle while working 124.2 innings and posting 165 strikeouts. She collected nine complete-game outings and four complete-game shutouts this season while posting an opposing batting average of just .200.

WKU (37-12) will open play in the 2019 C-USA Tournament this week as the No. 3 seed. The Hilltoppers earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of No. 6 Middle Tennessee and No. 7 Texas-El Paso in a single-elimination game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Reporter Sophie Austin can be reached at 270-745-2653 and Sophie.Austin380@topper.wku.edu.