Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina softball placed four on the 2019 North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) All-State team released Monday. Senior Hunter Gibbons was a first-team selection while juniors Ashlyn Long and Erica Hayes along with sophomore Kailey McNeil were placed on the second team. It is the ninth-consecutive season the Catamounts have had at least one player honored by the NCCSIA.
Nominees for the annual all-state awards were submitted by North Carolina sports information professionals and voted on by the NCCSIA membership.
Gibbons, an outfielder from Woodleaf, N.C., makes her third-straight appearance on the All-State First Team also closing out her career as a Southern Conference First Tea honoree. She ended her career as the home run (35) and RBI (129) leader in the Western Carolina record books, tied for second for most doubles in a career with 35 and ranks second for most runs scored in a career with 109. For the season, she led the team with a .321 batting average – the highest average of her career starting and playing 53 games. Gibbons topped the team with 50 hits which were also a season-best and paced the team with 13 multiple hit games and had six multiple-RBI games.
Long, a shortstop from Willow Spring, N.C., makes her second-consecutive appearance on the All-State Second Team and was also a SoCon All-Conference Second Team selection. She played and started in 50 games with a .245 batting average along with 38 hits, 35 runs, eight doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 24 RBI. Long had 12 multiple hit games and four multiple-RBI games notching the second longest hit streak of the season with hits in nine straight games.
Hayes, a second baseman from Cary, N.C., makes her first appearance on the NCCSIA team as a second-team selection. She also closed out her junior campaign earning a spot on the 2019 SoCon All-Tournament team. For the season, she played in 51 games and started 50 with a .238 batting average leading the team with 34 RBI which tied for 12th in the WCU record books for most RBI in a season. She also had 36 hits, 17 runs scored, six doubles, three triples, and seven home runs and had nine multiple-hit games. In the three games in the SoCon Championships, Hayes had a .545 batting average with six hits, two triples, and three RBI. She was the catalyst in the No. 7 seed Catamounts’ shocking 6-4 win over No. 2 Samford to open the tournament going 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI.
McNeil, holding down the designated player spot from North Wilkesboro, N.C., also makes her first appearance on the NCCSIA Second Team. She played in 44 games and started 39 contests. For the season she had a .232 batting average along with 23 hits, 14 runs scored, four doubles, three home runs, and 12 RBI.
Founded in 2002, the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) is comprised of sports information professionals from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and independent institutions from the state of North Carolina. The purpose of the organization is to promote collegiate athletics at all schools. Membership is open to anyone affiliated with a college, university or conference located in North Carolina, and whose area of responsibility lies within sports information.
NCCSIA selects all-state teams in the University (Division I) and College (Division II, III, NAIA) divisions for men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, softball, and baseball.
Western Carolina's All-Time NCCSIA All-State Selections:
2007: Stephanie Beatty, INF
2008: Mollie Fowler, DP
2009: Mollie Fowler, DP
2012: Erin Foster, OF 2013: Amber Steinhardt, UTL (2nd)
2014: Whitney Haywood, DP (1st); Jordan Garrett, P (2nd); Karley Harkey, IF (2nd); Courtney Price, OF (2nd)
2015: Jordan Garrett, P (1st); Crystal Cyr, IF (1st) Courtney Price, OF (1st); Taylor Sigmon, UTL (1st); Heather Chastain, C (2nd)