Clark and Muffo named First Team All-HCAC
Katie Clark and Ariana Muffo named First Team All-Heartland
May 8, 2013
BLUFFTON, Ohio - A pair of Bluffton University sophomores were recently named First Team All-Heartland Conference for their outstanding play on the diamond this spring. Katie Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) and Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill.) led Bluffton to its seventh straight HCAC tournament appearance in 2013. Picking up Second Team All-HCAC honors were junior Shelby Erford (Paulding) and freshman Ashley Knippen (Wapakoneta), while sophomore Brittany Baker (Springboro) was an honorable mention selection.
Katie Clark picked up right where she left off a year ago when she drove the second pitch she saw this season over the wall in left field for her seventh career home run. The sophomore phenom placed in the top six for the Heartland Conference with a .623 slugging percentage (2nd), 71 total bases (2nd), three triples (2nd), .473 on-base percentage (3rd), four homers (4th), 45 hits (4th), .395 batting average (4th), 32 RBI (4th), 29 runs (5th), 15 walks (5th) and eight doubles (6th).
Her .623 slugging percentage placed her sixth all-time for a single season, while Clark's .395 batting average is 12th all-time. In addition, her hits, runs scored, homers, RBI and total bases were all in the top 10 for Bluffton's single-season record book. Clark, who narrowly missed out on Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors a season ago, is a repeat selection on the All-Heartland Conference First Team.
She now holds the distinction of the highest career batting average for a Bluffton softball player (.414) after going 103-of-249 in two years as a Beaver. Her .675 slugging percentage also tops the career record book at Bluffton. She is second all-time with a .479 on-base percentage. Despite playing just two years, Clark ranks fifth all-time with 27 doubles and four triples, while her 10 bombs are tied for third, behind just Lindsey Miller (20) and Brooke Babcock (12). She is also in the top 15 all-time with 168 total bases, 62 RBI, 58 runs scored and 103 hits.
While an injury robbed Ariana Muffo of her freshman campaign a year ago, it did not keep her from being named First Team All-HCAC as a sophomore. Muffo hit a ridiculous .400 at the plate and she may have been even better behind it where she managed the games from start to finish. Her ability to handle the pitching staff was an integral part of Bluffton earning a spot in the HCAC tournament.
Muffo, who was the HCAC Hitter of the Week following day one at the Rebel Spring Games, started quickly in Florida and continued to be a tough out at the plate all season, whiffing only three times in over 120 plate appearances. Her .400 batting average was third in the conference, while her .455 on-base percentage was fourth. Muffo's 44 hits, 29 RBI and .545 slugging percentage all placed her seventh in the HCAC. For the season Muffo smacked 10 doubles and two homers while drawing 10 walks and scoring 24 runs. She also stole seven bases and tallied two sacrifice bunts.
Returning to the form she displayed as a freshman when Shelby Erford was an honorable mention All-HCAC selection, the junior found her stroke while hitting .328 as a switch hitter. Erford's 35 runs scored were third in the HCAC and third all-time at Bluffton for a single season. Her 20 runs in HCAC play led the conference and helped to solidify her standing as a member of the All-Heartland Conference Second Team. The shortstop hit over 100 points higher this season and committed 10 fewer errors than she did a year ago. She finished the season with 40 hits (20th all-time) while stealing eight bases and getting four sacrifice bunts down.
For her career, Erford is in the top 20 all time with a .299 batting average (16th), .421 slugging percentage (13th), 113 games started (17th), 68 runs (9th), 91 hits (17th) three triples (10th), eight home runs (6th), 40 RBI (19th), 17 stolen bases (16th) and 128 total bases (13th).
Two-sport standout Ashley Knippen made her mark on the diamond after starting in goal for the women's soccer team last fall. Knippen's move from the outfield to second base shored up the infield in time to help Bluffton make a run at the Heartland Conference championship. Her .444 batting average and five sacrifice hits were both tops in HCAC action. She made just one error all season for a .988 fielding percentage. Knippen hit .321 with 17 RBI and 16 runs scored and she also stole five bases and led the Beavers with nine sacrifice bunts as a freshman starter who did not practice in the fall due to soccer.
Earning her first piece of All-Heartland Conference hardware was sophomore Brittany Baker who flexed her muscles with a .469 slugging percentage, an improvement of over 160 points from her freshman campaign. She drove in 17 runs and scored 12 thanks to seven doubles and four round-trippers this season. Baker hit nearly 60 points higher (.276 BA) and her transition to first base was seamless after starting at second last year.
In conjunction with the All-Heartland Conference awards, the conference has announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the 2013. This award has been developed as part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative. Members of the All-HCAC Sportsmanship team are selected by the coaches and their teammates as individuals who demonstrate the ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field/court of competition. Bluffton senior Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) was recognized for her sportsmanship this season.