Stiner Voted Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year; Ledbetter, Weiland and Mielke Honored

May 10, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee softball player Shelby Stiner becomes the third Blue Raider in four years to be named Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year. Stiner was also named Sun Belt First Team All-Conference. Muriel Ledbetter, Melissa Weiland and Katie Mielke were voted to the Sun Belt All-Conference Second team.

The Blue Raider club earned Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year honors in 2003 and 2004. Former standout Cortney Mitchell won the award in 2003 and Crystal Bobo garnered the trophy in 2004.

Stiner, a junior college transfer from Glendale Community College, joined the Blue Raider program and made an instant impact for the club. The junior shortstop from Peoria, Arizona leads the team and ranks second in the Sun Belt with a .341 batting average and has logged 16 stolen bases which leads the team and ranks her fourth in the Sun Belt Conference. Stiner's 58 hits are fourth-best in the Sun Belt and also lead the team. She has also notched 19 multiple hit games and ranks second on the team with 23 runs scored.

"I feel honored to be named Newcomer of the Year and all-conference," Stiner said. "All year long we have talked, as a team, about respect and I think it is a credit to the team, and those of us who were honored by the conference, that we have continued to work hard to earn everyone's respect."

Junior designated player Muriel Ledbetter has been a real spark for the Blue Raiders in the four spot in the lineup. Ledbetter, from Collierville, Tenn., broke the school record for homeruns in a season with 11 and also broke her own single-season record for walks with 30. She leads the team and the Sun Belt in doubles with 17 and also ranks fourth in the Sun Belt with a .329 batting average.

"It is a nice feeling to receive this award," Ledbetter said. "It was a team effort and it shows hard work does pay off."

Weiland, a junior third baseman, makes her first appearance on a Sun Belt All-Conference team. The Murfreesboro native has stepped it up in conference play as she is hitting .412 in league play and is also tied for second with 21 hits in conference games. Overall, Weiland has a .285 batting average and ranks second on the team with seven homeruns. She hit the game-winning homerun on April 22 in the Blue Raiders' 1-0 victory over Troy.

"I am happy for myself but more importantly happy for this team because we have come a long way," Weiland said. "When you get an award like this it takes the whole team."

Mielke, a sophomore catcher from Lombard, Illinois, is a transfer from Illinois State. She can be found behind the plate or at first base, and she is proficient at both. Mielke is currently hitting .275, which ranks her fourth on the team, and has 15 RBI, eight doubles and two homeruns. Her eight stolen bases ranks her second on the team.

"I feel honored as well," Mielke said. "I am just happy I can contribute and help out the team and I am very pleased with being named second team all-conference."

As a team, the Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt team Academic Award for the second year in a row. For 2005, Middle Tennessee had a team GPA of 3.1.

The Blue Raiders closed out the regular season with an overall record of 19-40-1 and 6-9 in the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee is the No. 4 seed heading into the Sun Belt Softball Championships which begin on Thursday. The Blue Raiders will face No. 5 seed Troy at 12:30 p.m. Central in Miami, Florida at University Park on the campus of Florida International.

First Team

Pitcher: Ashley Kirchberg, Louisiana-Lafayette

Pitcher: Sarah Belanger, Florida International

Catcher: Jennifer Powell, Florida International

1st Base: Lacey Bertucci, Louisiana-Lafayette

2nd Base: Brittany Bryant, Louisiana-Lafayette

Shortstop: Shelby Stiner, Middle Tennessee

3rd Base: Susan Waters, North Texas

Outfield: Danyele Gomez, Louisiana-Lafayette

Outfield: Ashley Evans, Louisiana-Lafayette

Outfield: Deomni Murray, Florida International

Designated Player: Tabitha Embry, Florida International

Second Team

Pitcher: Laine Harcourt, Troy

Pitcher: Krystal Lewallen, Louisiana-Lafayette

Catcher: Katie Mielke, Middle Tennessee

1st Base: Jessica Lyle, Troy

2nd Base: Brooke Powell, Troy

Shortstop: Bailey Rolfs, Western Kentucky

3rd Base: Melissa Weiland, Middle Tennessee

Outfield: Alana Towns, Western Kentucky

Outfield: Ashley Falk, Florida International

Outfield: Heidi Johnson, Troy

Designated Player: Muriel Ledbetter, Middle Tennessee

Player of the Year: Danyele Gomez, Louisiana-Lafayette

Pitcher of the Year: Ashley Kirchberg, Louisiana-Lafayette

Newcomer of the Year: Shelby Stiner, Middle Tennessee

Freshman of the Year: Sarah Belanger, Florida International

Coach of the Year: Stefni Lotief, Louisiana-Lafayette

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