BROOKLINE, Mass. - The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has recognized the 2016-2017 Newbury College softball team as the NCAA Division III leader in grade point average as part of the Easton/NFCA Top 10 Academic Team rankings. This year, the team earned a GPA of 3.695, securing the top spot for the second-consecutive year in Division III.
The 2015-2016 edition of Nighthawk softball placed first in the nation across all Divisions in both the NCAA and the NAIA in GPA. The 2016-2017 team outranked all Division I teams and only trailed two Division II teams, placing them third overall in the NCAA.
Coach Casey Butler, who was elevated from Assistant Softball Coach to Head Softball Coach this year, said, "I am so thrilled that our Newbury College Nighthawks have again been recognized for having the top GPA among DIII softball teams across the nation, and have landed a top spot among all levels. They work so hard every day and always give 100% both on the field and in the classroom. After first being recognized with this acknowledgement during the 2013-2014 season, the team has added this goal to the list of accomplishments that they strive for each year; it is just as important to them as any athletic competition. I know that these girls look forward to continuing their success and I'm proud of the great foundation they have set for future Newbury softball players to come."
"Our student athletes embody the values of the NCAA and the expectations of academic excellence at Newbury College," said President Joseph L. Chillo. "The softball team continues to raise the bar on the field and in the classroom. I am so thrilled that our softball team has been recognized for their hard work and success as student-athletes."
"It is difficult to repeat a significant achievement in intercollegiate athletics," said Director of Athletics Jonathan Harper. "To repeat as the top academic team in Division III for the second-consecutive year is truly special when you consider these talented women put forth a tremendous effort for the entire academic year, not just a season. This program has developed a culture that has become hungry for titles on and off of the field. I am very proud of the team and the two prior that all finished in the top-two in Division III academically."
In addition to excellence in the classroom, the Nighthawks advanced to the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Championship Game and recorded a program-best 23-17 overall record, including the program's first NECC Regular Season Championship. In addition, the 2017 squad placed five student-athletes on the NECC All-Conference Teams including First Team All-Conference catcher and Newbury career home run leader, Noelle Sass as well as NECC Rookie of the Year Arianna Gooden.
Newbury is looking to post its fourth-consecutive 20-win season and its fifth in six years while attempting to break through with an NECC Tournament Championship after finishing as the runners-up twice in the last five years.
Members of the 2016-2017 softball team included:
About Newbury: Newbury College is a private, independent college located just minutes from Boston in the Fisher Hill neighborhood of Brookline, Massachusetts. Founded in 1962, Newbury College offers bachelor and associate degree programs in over 20 career-focused majors. Committed to personalized and experience-based teaching, Newbury inspires students to become independent thinkers, valuable collaborators, and global-minded citizens.