SPRING: Season of Champions, Accolades by Ranger Athletes – Presented by Northwestern Oklahoma State University



ALVA, Okla. – It has been a busy spring for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University athletic department as Ranger athletics wrapped up with the completion of the baseball, softball and rodeo seasons on the final weekend of April. 

Despite just missing the Great American Conference tournament this season, the Ranger baseball team still experienced some history as outfielder Johnnuelle Ponce became the first ever Northwestern athlete to win the conference Player of the Year award. Ponce had an historic season personally with 18 home runs, fourth most by a Ranger in a single season, as well as becoming one of ten players to program history to hit three in a game. 

Ponce was one of three baseball players earn an All-GAC selection as he was joined by Justin Bundy who was named Second Team All-GAC as an outfielder and Honorable Mention selection Bryce Donovan, at catcher. 

Northwestern track and field also completed its first ever NCAA season after the program competed in 2018 for the first time in the 1980’s. Head coach Jill Lancaster and associate head coach Brock Hime did a tremendous job putting together a competitive program. 

The Ranger athletes finished seventh out of 10 teams at the GAC Outdoor Championships, ahead of the preseason coaches’ predictions. After Cayla Smither won the triple jump at the GAC Indoor Championships, the Rangers added another champion at the outdoor meet as Zarin Goodrich tossed a meet record distance in the javelin to earn a First Team All-GAC spot and the event championship.

Keiazyiah Young (Del City, Oklahoma) and Smither each earned Second Team All-GAC awards with their finish in the triple jump at the outdoor meet, held at Oklahoma Baptist. Kayla Gourley was a Second Team finisher in the 10,000-meter race with a huge personal record time by more seven minutes, and the team of Kylee Isbell, Megan Mayfield (Bridge Creek, Oklahoma), Ladasheray Bell (Alva, Oklahoma) and Lashayla Green (Canton, Oklahoma) set a school record and Second Team finish in the 4×400 relay.

The future is bright for the Northwestern track and field programs following the success of the first year. 

On the softball diamond, it was a rebuilding year for head coach Jill Devries and her staff. The Rangers entered the season with 17 freshmen on the roster, many times placing as many as seven in the starting lineup. While the record may not have been as they would have hoped, the two Rangers, both freshmen, received All-GAC Honorable Mention accolades. 

Kalie Johnson (pictured above), a Tecumesh, Oklahoma native, dawned the starting lineup in every game for the Rangers in her freshman campaign. She sported team highs in average (.337), at bats (166), runs (28), hits (56), and doubles (11), as well as the second most home runs on the team with three. She also earned GAC Freshman of the Week honors during the season.

Taylor Russell (Durant, Oklahoma) stepped up big during the conference season to earn an Honorable Mention nod at the designated player position. Russell has a breakout doubleheader against Southwestern when he hit a home run in both games, her first two of her career. 

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