Adams State University senior Katelyn Lovato was picked as the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's Preseason Player of the Year.
Courier file photo by Eric R. Flores
Courier Sports Editor
COLORADO SPRINGS—Adams State University senior softball player Katelyn Lovato was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference 2013 Softball Preseason Player of the Year by conference officials. Lovato, who is both a three-time All-American and three-time RMAC First Team member, looks to help lead the Grizzlies back to the RMAC Tournament in 2013.
In 2010 as a freshman, Lovato was unanimously named conference Freshman Player of the Year after she became the first freshman in school history to be named to the First Team Daktronics All-American Team and posted a hit in every game. During that season, Lovato hit a conference leading .523 with 78 hits. Her batting average mark was good enough for second in the nation.
During the season where she was 17-of-19 on stolen base attempts, the Grizzlies failed to make it to the RMAC Tournament by just a half-game.
In 2011, her sophomore season, Lovato broke the NCAA Division II record for consecutive games with a hit (41) just three games into the season. During the season Lovato finished with a .488 batting average where she nabbed a school-record 44 stolen bases, a school-record 100 hits and had 11 outfield assists. in 2011, equaling the RMAC record. Lovato also tallied nine triples. As a team, the Grizzlies made it to the RMAC championship game but fell literally one strike short of a NCAA Tournament berth.
She was named 2011 Daktronics, Inc. Softball All-Central Region Player of the Year that season.
Lovato finished the 2012 season in the top 10 in the RMAC for batting average (.448), slugging (.761), on-base percentage (.514), and stolen bases (14). Her school-record 11 triples last season were the highest mark in Division II. The Grizzlies failed to make it to the RMAC Tournament in 2012.
Career-wise Lovato is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in runs (153), hits (251), triples (22), and stolen bases (75).
“I believe that this is a very well deserved honor,” stated Head Coach Dervin Taylor. “She has been working very hard leading up to this year and this is the first year she will be truly healthy since her freshman season.”
Lovato will be one of four seniors on the Grizzly squad. “I expect her to be more of a leader and take some freshmen by the hand,” said Taylor. The Grizzlies can be considered a young team with 15 freshmen and 12 sophomores on the 31-member roster.
As mentioned before, the Grizzlies were picked to finish ninth as a team by earning 88 points in the coaches’ poll. All coaches were asked to rank their teams in order that they believed they would finish and vote for Preseason All-RMAC Teams. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players or team.
“This should provide a great deal of motivation for the team,” said Taylor. “We are a very competitive team that will come out and show our competitive nature.”
Colorado Mines was picked to win the RMAC this season with just 18 points, eight of which were first place votes. In 2012 the Orediggers sported a 26-14 (.65) record. Colorado Christian (42) was selected to finish second despite not getting any first place votes.
Fort Lewis (45) was picked third with two first place votes while Metro State (51) was tabbed fourth and Colorado State University-Pueblo (58) was picked fifth each getting a first place vote. Colorado Mesa (65) was picked sixth while University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (67) received a first place vote and seventh place in the poll.
Regis (79) was picked eighth while Western New Mexico (119) helped sandwich the Grizzlies at tenth. Chadron State (121), New Mexico Highlands (122) and Black Hills State (139) rounded out the team rankings.
In addition to Lovato earning POY honors, Colorado Mines senior pitcher Kelly Urlich was tabbed as Preseason RMAC Pitcher of the Year. As the RMAC Pitcher of the Year in both 2011 and 2012, Unkrich led the RMAC in earned run average at 2.96, was second in strikeouts (156) and was third in wins (16) in 2012. Unkrich also recorded three saves, and helped lead the Orediggers to their third RMAC regular season championship in five years.
Grizzly sophomore designated player Erika Ecsedy was picked to join Lovato as members of the 2013 Preseason All-Conference Team.
The Grizzly’s 2013 campaign will begin on Friday, Feb. 3 when they compete in the 3-day Metro State/Regis Tournament in Denver. They will play against Metro State and UC-Colorado Springs on Friday, Colorado Mines and Regis on Saturday before facing UC-Colorado Springs once again on Sunday.
Pod weekend will begin conference play just a week later when the Grizzlies return to Regis to play the Rangers and Black Hills State.
“I’m looking forward to seeing a competitive team, I look forward to them proving they are a better team than what they were picked,” finalized Taylor.