EUREKA — Add national batting champion to the list of accolades and accomplishments Sydney Shubert (Canton, Ill./Canton) attained in her first season as a Red Devil.
Eureka College's junior center fielder finished the 2019 softball campaign with a .587 batting average, topping the field in NCAA Division III.
In addition, junior Morgan Ledbetter (Hanna City, Ill./Elmwood) led Division III in home runs per game (.49) and runs batted in per game (1.66), and the Red Devils earned the team batting title with a .402 season average.
Shubert is the first Red Devil and player from the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to lead the nation in batting average.
"Honestly, it's not something I expected to do, but it's pretty cool to know that all the hard work I put in paid off," Shubert said. "I'm thankful for the few people that would go in with me outside of practice to pitch to me and run me through all of my different batting drills. All the support I had from my family, friend and, of course, the team this season definitely helped with my performance on the field."
Shubert is only the fourth Division III player from an Illinois college to lead the nation in batting, and the first since 1991. Rita Schultz of Benedictine (1982), Angela DeVaul of North Park (1983) and Melissa Ivlow of Aurora (1991) were the previous national batting champions from Illinois.
This is the second season in the past four that Eureka has had a softball player lead the nation in a statistical category. In 2016, Kerrigan Dura was the national leader in doubles (27), doubles per game (.71), runs batted in (66) and runs batted in per game (1.74).
This season, Shubert went 71-for-121 at the plate with four doubles, two triples, 11 RBI, 13 stolen bases and 44 runs scored. Over the course of 33 games, she had 24 multi-hit games, tallied at least three hits 14 times, racked up four hits or more four times and went 5-for 5 in a late-April win over Principia.
In addition to leading the nation in batting, Shubert recorded the second-highest on-base percentage in Division III (.618) and tied for scoring the third-most runs per game (1.33).
EC's No. 2 hitter previously became the first Red Devil to be voted SLIAC Player of the Year and received First Team All-SLIAC honors en route to the program's first-ever SLIAC Tournament title and second NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
Ledbetter, the Red Devils' cleanup hitter and first baseman, received First Team All-SLIAC honors, was named the SLIAC Tournament MVP and was selected on the NCAA III Whitewater, Wisconsin Regional All-Tournament Team, setting several program records along the way.
The Red Devils, who finished the season 27-8, also captured their first regular-season SLIAC title in EC's 13-year league membership.
"I'm very excited about what we accomplished as a team this season," Shubert said. "We set a lot of team and individual goals at the beginning of the year, which led us to break a lot of career records at the end of the season. It's pretty satisfying knowing that everyone on the team is going to be back next year. I think we will be even stronger."