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Kathy Leitke is MAC Coach of the Year

May 10, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University softball coach Kathy Leitke has been named the Mid-American Conference coach of the year and three Broncos--Amanda Heckaman, Katie Niemi and Krysten Shumaker--were named to the All-MAC First Team.

Sophomore catcher Becky Bartosz of Gladstone, Mich., freshman shortstop Mandi Sayres of Milwaukie, Ore., and junior left fielder Kristi Strange of Canby, Ore., earned second-team league honors. Sayres joined designated player Lauren Fuller of Fort Wayne, Ind., on the 11-member All-MAC Freshman Team.

Leitke led her team to the MAC West Division title, the top seed in this year's Mid-American Softball Tournament, passed the 30-win mark for the third time with the Broncos and captured the MAC regular season title for the first time since 1984. She became only the second person in program history to earn the coach-of-the-year award since its inception in 1983 and is the first WMU coach to win it outright. Kim Worden shared the honor with Central Michigan University's Margo Jonker in 1997. The Broncos 31 wins this season give Leitke 150 with the program and 462 for her career.

Heckaman, a junior second baseman from South Bend, Ind., batted a team-leading .385 in MAC play and had 37 RBIs, also best on the squad. She set a school record with seven RBIs in one game, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a double, a single and a home run.

Niemi, a senior right fielder from LaGrange, Ill., was also named to the All-MAC First Team in 2005. She batted .338 this season against MAC opponents, scored a team-high 28 runs and was second for the Broncos with 41 hits.

Shumaker, a sophomore from Auburn, Ind., is only the second WMU pitcher to eclipse 200 strikeouts in a season and had three no-hitters. She ranks among the top 15 nationally with a 1.13 ERA and is in the nation's top 10 with four saves.

UPDATE (May 15, 2006)--Following victories in the first two rounds of the MAC Tournament, the Broncos lost, 2-1, to Kent State University in the championship game. Despite a 34-win season, including a victory over defending national champion University of Michigan, WMU was not awarded an at-large berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

Media contact: Mat Kanan, (269) 387-4125, mat.kanan@wmich.edu

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