LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Elon University softball team was recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and Easton as a Top Academic Team as announced on Thursday evening, Oct. 6. In addition, three members of the squad – sophomore Abby Barker, graduated senior Kayla Caruso and rising senior Emily Roper – were chosen as Easton/NFCA Scholar-Athletes.
Elon posted a 3.188 team cumulative GPA during the 2015-16 academic school year and was one of 99 teams that was honored by Easton/NFCA. The Phoenix was also one of four teams from the Colonial Athletic Association honored along with Hofstra, James Madison and UNCW.
Roper, who is majoring in human services studies, finished with a perfect 4.0 GPA for the third straight year. She led the team in home runs (five) and RBI (31) while also being selected as a member of the CAA All-Academic team for the second straight season. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native was also recognized as the Elon Athletics’ female A.L. Hook Scholar-Athlete which is presented to the junior or senior athletes who possess the highest cumulative grade-point average with a minimum of two years of playing time at Elon.
Caruso, who finished her career in the top-10 in school history in several major pitching categories, graduated in May 2016 with a 3.29 GPA as an exercise science major during the past school year. As a senior, Caruso led the team in wins while posting a career-low ERA of 2.89 in 101.2 innings pitched. She helped the Phoenix defeat No. 6 JMU, 5-4, for its highest ranked win ever while pitching all 15 innings in the contest. She later became Elon’s first pitcher to earn all-conference accolades at the Division I level with a second team All-CAA selection.
Barker, also an exercise science major, closed out her rookie season with a 3.95 GPA and a strong first year. The Granville, Ohio, native tossed Elon’s first perfect game at the Division I level versus Niagara on March 11, in the Phoenix’s 8-0 win. She went on to earn the CAA Rookie of the Week for that performance and finished the year third on the team in total wins.
The rankings and honors recognize the academic prowess of softball teams across seven membership divisions. NCAA Division I, with 1,240 honorees, had the most student-athletes with a 3.5 grade-point average or higher, while 1,124 in Division III earned recognition, followed by 963 Division II student-athletes. High School weighted and High School unweighted posted 618 and 512 honorees apiece. NAIA amassed 384 recipients and Junior College totaled 311.