Brentwood, TN – Pitcher Jordan Benefiel became the fourth Austin Peay State University (APSU) softball player to be named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, the league announced Wednesday, May 12th.
In addition to claiming the league’s top first-year honor, Benefiel was also selected to the All-OVC Second Team and All-OVC Newcomers Team, as one of three Governors softball athletes named to the 2021 All-OVC teams – with junior third baseman Lexi Osowski earning All-OVC First-Team honors and senior pitcher/first baseman Kelsey Gross being selected to the All-OVC Second Team.
With the selection as OVC Freshman of the Year, Benefiel joins her current teammate Bailey Shorter (2018) as well as Danielle Liermann (2016) and Lori McCoy (2003) as APSU recipients of the honor, tying Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, and UT Martin for the most Freshman of the Year selections from a conference team.
Benefiel, from Pendleton, Indiana, had an impressive freshman campaign, despite missing a month of the season with a lower-body injury, posting an 8-6 record in 16 appearances, with a 1.70 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 78.1 innings pitched. She also recorded three shutouts – tying the program’s freshman single-season record – and one save all the while holding opposing hitters to a .201 batting average.
Osowski, from San Diego, California, earns her first First-Team All-OVC honor after being named Second-Team All-OVC in 2019. This season, she led all OVC hitters with a .433 batting average, while also recording a .633 slugging percentage, a .478 on-base percentage, scoring 34 runs and driving in 26. Osowski also had a 13-game hit streak this season, the third-longest by a Govs in the last 22 years, while her batting average ranks 32nd for all NCAA Division I hitters.
Gross, from Collierville, Tennessee, earned her first All-OVC season honor with her Second-Team selection as a utility/designated player, having 35 starts at first base and 22 appearances in the circle – including six starts.
In the circle, Gross led the team with a 9-2 record while posting a 2.08 ERA, two shutouts, four saves, 52 strikeouts in 77.1 innings pitched, and an opponent batting average of .222. She is tied for the conference lead in saves while ranking fourth in ERA, seventh in wins, and eighth in opponents’ batting average.
2021 Softball All-OVC Teams
P – Rachel Rook, Southeast Missouri
P – Alexis Groet, UT Martin
P – Tori Peterson, Eastern Kentucky
C – Zoe Mihalicz, Eastern Kentucky
IF – Lexi Osowski, Austin Peay
IF – Ashley Ellis, Southeast Missouri
IF – Megan Burton, Eastern Illinois
IF – Kaitlyn Kelley, UT Martin
OF – Sammi Miller, Eastern Kentucky
OF – Jada Terry, Jacksonville State
OF – Rachel Anderson, Southeast Missouri
UTIL/DP – Haley Mitchell, Eastern Illinois
P – Nicole Rodriguez, Jacksonville State
P – Jordan Benefiel, Austin Peay
C – Nicolle Nysted, Tennessee Tech
IF – Carly Robinson, Eastern Kentucky
IF – Sierra Gilmore, Murray State
IF – Zoe Schafer, SIU Edwardsville
IF – Alana Cobb-Adams, SIU Edwardsville
IF – Kaci Fuller, UT Martin
OF – Cheyenne Cavanaugh, Belmont
OF – Ava Bieneman, SIU Edwardsville
OF – Paige Clark, UT Martin
UTIL/DP – Kelsey Gross, Austin Peay
Alexis Groet, P, UT Martin
Jordan Benefiel, P, Austin Peay
Kaitlyn Kelley, IF, UT Martin
Jillian Anderson, OF, Southeast Missouri
Kacie Fueller, IF, UT Martin
Ava Bieneman, OF, SIU Edwardsville
Shyanne Sheffield, OF, UT Martin
Katie Dreiling, DP, Southeast Missouri
Jenna Veber, P, Murray State
Nicolle Nysted, C, Tennessee Tech
Morgan Lewis, OF, Eastern Illinois
Sydney Baalman, P, SIU Edwardsville
2021 OVC Player of the Year: Megan Burton, Eastern Illinois
2021 OVC Pitcher of the Year: Rachel Rook, Southeast Missouri
2021 OVC Freshman of the Year: Jordan Benefiel, Austin Peay
2021 OVC Coach of the Year: Mark Redburn, Southeast Missouri