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WINTHROP, Mass. – Simmons College's Lauren Backhaus (Windsor, Conn.) and Jen Field (Windham, Maine) were named to the First Team All-Conference Softball team by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, while Mikaela Caracciolo (North Attleboro, Mass.) and Hannah Cunningham (Cotuit, Mass.) were both tabbed to the GNAC Second Team. Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine) was selected for the All-Sportsmanship Team, it was announced today by the league.
The five All-Conference positions received by the Sharks this season are the most since they earned six spots last year and the three First Team position nods are the most since Simmons took four in 2011.
Backhaus earns First Team accolades as both a pitcher and a designated player for the Sharks. The honor marks the fourth straight year she has been named to the All-Conference team as a pitcher and second time she has been chosen to the First Team. The senior was a double threat this season for Simmons, leading the way as the team's best pitcher and providing thunder in the batter's box as the team's clean-up hitter. Backhaus ranked among the league's top six in earned run average (2.28|5th), innings pitched (110 2/3|5th), wins (11|4th), strikeouts (102|3rd), strikeouts per seven innings (6.45|4th), appearances (20|6th), games started (17|5th) and complete games (15|3rd). Her strikeout total also placed her 82nd in the nation. The right-hander was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 9-16 as well. A graduate of Northwest Catholic High School, Backhaus ranked third on the team with a .324 (23-71) batting average and second on the squad with 20 runs batted in and a .493 slugging percentage, which also placed her 19th among conference leaders in 28 games. She was also second on the team and 19th in the GNAC with six doubles and second for the Sharks with 13 walks, while placing 13th among league leaders and 15th in the GNAC with a .430 on-base mark. The Captain tied for the team lead with seven multi-RBI outings and hit .382 (13-34) with runners in scoring position. If Simmons is not selected to participate in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament, then Backhaus finishes her career with a 54-26 (.675) record, while fanning 584 batters in 532 innings to go with 68 complete games in 77 starts over 92 appearances. She also hit .293 (71-242) in 114 games, while driving in 50 runs and owning a .401 on-base percentage in 114 games.
Field is named to the GNAC First Team after being selected as a second teamer last year. The left fielder fell just a percentage point short of matching her career high with a .351 (27-77) batting average to rank second on the squad, while leading the team with nine stolen bases, which was good for seventh among conference leaders. The nine-hitter drew 10 walks to contribute to a .432 on-base percentage, which placed her 15th in the GNAC. The senior started 31 of 32 outings and scored 19 runs to place fourth on the team, while registering four sacrifice hits to tie for the team lead. The slap hitter swung a hot bat to close out he season, hitting .412 (14-34) with 11 runs scored in the final 12 games of the year. She ranked second on the team with eight multiple-hit efforts and committed just two errors in the outfield. A product of Catherine McAuley High School, she finishes her four-year career with a .310 (96-310) lifetime batting average, while rapping out 96 hits, scoring 66 runs, stealing 20 bases and owning a .387 on-base average in 127 games.
Caracciolo was perhaps the best combination of offense and defense in the league. The junior was also named to the Second Team in 2014 and was among the GNAC's top 14 in batting (.382 (39-102)|13th), slugging (.618|6th), on-base percentage (.484|9th), runs scored (24|14th), runs batted in (29|9th), hits (39|12th), home runs (5|5th), triples (2|11th), bases on balls (21|3rd) and stolen bases (7|11th) and was the only player to finish the season without a committing an error with as many chances (154) as she had. The second baseman has not been charged with a miscue since April 11, 2014 – a span of 47 straight games and 208 consecutive chances. Caracciolo was also a part of 14 of the team's 20 doubles plays that were turned during the season and has helped Simmons to lead the nation in the latest NCAA rankings with .65 twinkillings per game. She was also one of the reasons why the team scored so many runs with two outs this season, hitting a remarkable .520 (13-25) with two outs. The North Attleboro High School graduate owned a team-best 11-game hitting streak during the season from April 3-15, where she batted .400 (14-35) during the stretch, while knocking in 12 runs and slugging .771 with two doubles, a triple and three home runs. The Captain also led the team with 11 multi-hit outings, while tying for the team lead with seven multiple-RBI efforts. Caracciolo has batted .392 (98-250) in 90 career games, while driving in 59 runs, scoring 69 times, cracking 18 doubles, three triples and seven home runs to go with 53 walks, a .495 on-base percentage and a .572 slugging percentage.
Cunningham gets the All-Conference nod for the third time after being named to the Second Team, following a Third Team selection as a first year and junior. The leadoff hitter led the Sharks with 25 runs scored, which was good for 12th among GNAC leaders, while placing 11th in the league with a pair of triples and 19th with six doubles as part of nine extra-base hits on the year. The shortstop started 31 of 32 games and batted .263 (30-114) with 18 runs batted in to rank third on the team, while placing second with 30 hits and fourth with 10 walks. The Captain excelled at the plate with runners in scoring position, hitting .333 (12-36) and also knocked in half of her runs with two outs. A graduate of Barnstable High School, Cunningham racked up eight multi-hit games to tie for second on the team, including a team-high of three occasions with three or more hits in a game. She was 3-5 with four RBI, a triple and two runs scored in a win at Rivier University on March 29. For her career, the senior has hit .298 (142-476) in 138 games with 119 runs scored, 73 runs batted in, 19 doubles, seven triples and five home runs to go with a .358 on-base percentage.
Gauvin started 28 of 29 games as the team's catcher. The sophomore was used exclusively as a defensive force for the Sharks, handling 140 chances, while making just four errors from behind the dish. A graduate of Erskine Academy, she also threw out seven would-be basestealers. The backstop has seen action in 40 career games, while collecting two hits in 14 at-bats, including a double.
Simmons is 18-15 on the season, including a 15-7 mark that earned it a number four seed in last weekend's GNAC Tournament.