Ashburn Va, (October 6, 2015) – Rising senior Courtney Bogan and the Virginia Wesleyan College softball team were recently recognized as the NCAA Division III statistical champions for steals per game in 2015. This is the first time the team has earned this prestigious honor. She finished second in steals per game last season.
Bogan, a First Team All-American and ODAC Player of the Year in the 2015 season, stole 49 bases in just 38 games, good for a 1.29 steals per game mark. The Round Hill, Virginia native posted impressive steal totals of 28 and 26 as a first-year and sophomore respectively, but took her game to another level this past season. For her career, she has 103 stolen bases, 36 steals away from the school and conference record of 139 set by former Marlin All-American Tori Higginbotham ’14 from 2011-14.
“Courtney is a tireless worker and has always had great speed,” head coach Brandon Elliott said. “A lot of her base running success came from the mentorship of Tori Higginbotham and her relationship with Kayla Malkos. It is such a huge accomplishment because Kayla hits behind Courtney. Kayla sacrificed some at bats to work deep into counts so that Courtney had the chance to run.”
Malkos is another big reason why the Marlins softball team led the nation in steals per game. As Coach Elliott says, “base stealers steal bases, and great base stealers steal bases when everyone knows they are going.”
Malkos, also a junior this past season, finished the year with 27 steals in 37 games to help the Virginia Wesleyan cause. She is no stranger to national recognition, earning the Golden Shoe Award from the NFCA for the most outstanding base stealer in NCAA Division III as she swiped 52, a school and conference record for a single season.
Another mantra of Coach Elliott is, “you can’t steal bases unless you get on base.” The team did that exceptionally well, reaching base at a .433 clip. Bogan, alone, reached base at a .551 mark on 57 hits and 15 walks. To have 49 steals in her 72 times on base means she successfully steals the majority of the time she reaches first base, not factoring in times that she runs where the ball is put into play or fouled off.
“Our program takes a lot of pride in base running and it’s nice to see the women’s aggressiveness be rewarded,” Elliott stated. “Most of this success is due to their commitment to our agility and strength training work in the off-season. They are all fearless when they are on the bases. They are not afraid to get thrown out. It is a great mentality, that is just our style and I love them for it.”
The Marlins stole 126 bases on the season, eclipsing the goal of 100 set in the preseason, posting a 3.32 steals per game average. Fourteen players stole at least one base on the year, led by Bogan and Malkos. The Marlins finished the season 30-8 with a ranking of No. 11 in the nation.
Photos courtesy of Virginia Wesleyan College. To view the original article from the Virginia Wesleyan College website click here.