KOKOMO, IN - Hard work deserves to be rewarded, and it was last night at the RSC Softball Award Ceremony. This season was an unprecedented one for the Lady Trailblazers, with the school record for wins being set and qualifying as a high seed in postseason conference play. Four of our wonderful women were honored during the banquet, along with a very prestigious award for Coach Lewis.

Our first athlete honored was Emma Dammeyer. Dammeyer is the lone senior on this Blazer squad that is filled with promising young talent. She received First Team All-Conference recognition tonight for all the amazing work she put in this season. Emma comes in ranked 7th in the nation for walks drawn this season with a whopping 33. Some might say it's because people were afraid to pitch to her, and who could blame those opposing pitchers? In 40 games played she had a .416 batting average (highest on the team), 7 home runs, 30 RBIs, and 33 runs scored. She led the team in on-base percentage (.585) and was ranked 4th in the nation in that category. Her slugging percentage was also the highest on the team at .861 which was 9th in the nation this year. Dammeyer was a true star for a great Lady Trailblazer's team

Secondly, we have Emma Hastings. Hastings was also honored as a First Team All-Conference member. The standout freshman was a force to be reckoned with everywhere she was on the field, both offensively and defensively. Known for her speed, she came in ranked 29th overall in stolen bases nationally, with a staggering 34 bases stolen in her freshman campaign. She had a .316 batting average (third on the team), 4 home runs, 28 RBIs, and 36 runs. We look forward to having Hastings for the next three years.

Thirdly, we have star pitcher Hilarie Spitler. Spitler was the third and final member of the Blazers honored with First Team All-Conference. She started 16 of the 40 games on the mound for OCU. As a starting pitcher, she went 10-6 this season with 128 strikeouts and only one error. She averaged 7.95 strikeouts per game, which was 30th in the nation. Of her 16 starts, 5 of them were shutouts. Along with being the pitcher, she was also the Blazers' leadoff hitter. At the leadoff spot, she was fourth on the team in batting average with a .317. She also has tallied 14 RBIs and 29 runs so far as a star on both sides of the ball. Hilarie will have another two years with the Blazers, and we look forward to having her for the coming seasons.

The last Lady Trailblazer honored this evening was freshman Kristin Gardner. Gardner was honored as a member of the Second Team All-Conference and received the NAIA Champions of Character Award. The Champion of Character Award is given to a member of the team that epitomizes the pillars of the program: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. Throughout the season, Kristin represented all these things to her teammates and everyone around her, on and off the field. Along with her character, she was also a standout athlete for the Blazers. Like Spitler, she was a pitcher that played multiple different positions and was the anchor in the batting order. She had the second-best batting average on the team with a .360, with 10 RBIs and 21 runs. She started 7 games on the mound for the Blazers with 25 strikeouts pitched. She was a real Swiss army knife for the Blazers this year, and we look forward to three more great years with her.

Coach Lewis talked to us after the ceremony on what these girls accomplished this season: "Proud is an understatement for these ladies. Each one of these individuals deserve every award they received. At the beginning of the fall, we had everyone on the team write down some individual goals they would like to achieve this season and just about every one of them exceeded every goal they wrote down. Being first/second team all-conference was one of them! We have such a young team. This is just the start to something great! Many more achievements to come for these individuals!"

Along with the ladies receiving their awards, Lewis received the RSC Coach of the Year Award. The first-year head coach led the Trailblazers to a 23-19 regular season record, their best in program history. He inherited a program where they had gone 9-39 the year prior, with girls that were hungry to improve. He was a huge part of creating a culture shift within the program, and it is shown in the attitudes of the girls and in the results on paper.

When asked about receiving the prestigious award, he said, "I'm truly humbled and honored to be receiving RSC Coach of The Year. I never realized the recognition I had within the conference. It's truly a blessing to be surrounded by such an amazing group of women. Without them I would have never received this award. They bought into what I've been teaching and ran with it! I'm excited to see where the future takes us! All glory to the Lord above!"

The Blazers look to keep their season going today against the Grenadiers of IU Southeast at 1pm EST, so follow along for a link to live stats and a live stream. The link to the RSC Softball Tournament Central can be found here:

http://www.riverstatesconference.com/article/5216.php

The article will be updated as the day goes on with results and matchups, so tune in to see how far the Blazers can go!

For more Trailblazer Softball action and news, follow them on Instagram (@ocu_softball) and on Twitter (@OCUSB). For general Trailblazer news, follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@OCUTrailblazers) and on Facebook (Ohio Christian University Trailblazers).