The Southern Illinois University softball team had a league-leading five student-athletes named to Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete teams, the conference announced Thursday.
Kyleigh Decker, Jenny Jansen, Susie Baranski and Maddy Vermejan earned MVC Scholar-Athlete first team honors while Katelyn Massa was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention team.
SIU's five total honorees were tied with its total from a year ago and one more than both Illinois State and Indiana State had for the most of any Valley school this season. The criteria for the scholar-athlete team balloting parallels the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) standards for Academic All-America voting. Nominees must be starters or important reserves, have played at least 75-percent of a team's games, and must carry at least a 3.20 GPA (on a 4.0 scale).
Decker earned the first MVC Scholar-Athlete honor of her career after her remarkable start to the 2020 season. The Casey native finished top-five in the Missouri Valley Conference in runs batted in (5th; 20), slugging percentage (5th; .702) and home runs (t-5th; 5) and reached base in 15 of SIU's 21 games. Decker, an exercise science major, started 119-straight games at first base for the Salukis and finished her career ranked in the top-15 in school history in both stolen base percentage (10th; .889) and home runs (15th; 20).
Jansen claimed her second-straight MVC Scholar-Athlete first team nod after she tied for fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference in doubles and tied for sixth in the league in runs batted in. The junior from Warrenton, Mo. reached base in 15 of SIU's 21 games and 10 of her 18 hits during the 2020 season went for extra bases. The elementary education major finished with seven doubles in 21 games and now ranks in the top-10 in school history for career doubles.
Baranski was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete team for the first time in her career after she opened the 2020 season on a tear. A career .317 hitter, Baranski ranked seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020 with a .400 batting average and was ninth in the league in on-base percentage. The elementary education major reached base in 16 of SIU's 21 games and recorded multiple hits in eight games, which included a pair of three-hit performances.
Vermejan became a three-time MVC Scholar-Athlete team selection after she earned a spot on the first team. The senior second baseman led the Missouri Valley Conference in total walks (23) and finished fifth in the league in on-base percentage (.493). The Lemont native reached base in 19 of SIU's 21 games, which included an active streak of 15-straight games.
Massa also earned a spot on a MVC Scholar-Athlete team for the third-consecutive season, as she was named to the honorable mention team. The Wildwood, Mo. native reached base in 14 of the 20 games that she played in, which included four of the last five games of the 2020 season. The sports administration major tied for the conference lead in runners caught stealing (4), runners picked off (1) and fielding percentage (1.000).