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Trojans Top NAIA with Four Softball Academic All-District Awards

UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor softball team joined TU’s men’s and women’s soccer programs in leading the entire NAIA in CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for their sport. The Trojans topped the nation as Lauren Kanai, Kara Tucker, Ashton Whitman and Maddi Evans each garnered the high academic award.

The four honors gave Taylor the highest amount of any NAIA softball program in the country, and pushed TU’s total number of CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for the 2020-2021 year to 24, which also ranks No. 1 among all NAIA institutions.

Kanai collected her third-straight CoSIDA Academic All-District nod with a 3.77 grade-point average in graphic art. The senior played to Second-Team All-Crossroads League honors on the diamond this spring with a .318 average and 23 extra-base hits for the Trojans. Kanai also performed well in the circle, posting 16 wins and a 2.70 earned-run average in 30 appearances.

Tucker claimed her first CoSIDA award with a 3.95 GPA in exercise science. The senior joined Kanai as a Second-Team All-CL standout this season, after hitting .368 with a .436 on-base percentage. Tucker started each of TU’s 61 games and ranked among the team leaders with 40 runs batted in, 22 walks and nine doubles.

Whitman was also named CoSIDA All-District for the first time in her career with Taylor, posting a 3.95 grade-point average in sport management. The junior started all 61 games for TU, hitting .296 with 16 extra-base hits and 34 RBI. Whitman also posted a .987 fielding percentage and threw out 13 runners attempting to steal from her catcher position.

Evans added another accolade to her record-setting junior season, earning her first CoSIDA Academic All-District selection with a 3.74 GPA in biology. The junior was named First-Team All-Crossroads League, after setting TU’s single-season wins and strikeouts records in the circle. Evans closed the year with a 23-4 record, 263 strikeouts and a 2.26 ERA, while also belting 11 homers and 25 extra-base hits at the plate with a .318 batting average.

The CoSIDA Academic All-District award is designed to showcase student-athletes for outstanding work in the classroom, as well as on the field of play. In order to be eligible for the honor, an athlete must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.30, must have reached sophomore status academically with at least one full year at their current institution and must have participated in over half of the team’s competitions as a key contributor during the current season.

Student-athletes are nominated for the award by their institution’s Sports Information Department and selected via a national vote by members of CoSIDA.

Kanai, Tucker, Whitman and Evans will now advance to the ballot for CoSIDA Academic All-American honors, which are set to be announced on July 26.