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McKinney, Barnard Highlight WSU American Award Winners

Sydney McKinney wins AAC Player of the Year
Sydney McKinney wins AAC Player of the Year(WSU Athletics)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (WSU Athletics) - Wichita State’s record-breaking season was recognized Wednesday in the announcement of the American Athletic Conference regular season awards, highlighted by American Player of the Year Sydney McKinney.

Wichita State (37-11-1, 18-5-1) won the 2021 regular season title for the first time as a member of the American. McKinney was tabbed Player of the Year, becoming the second Shocker to earn American Player of the Year honors (Mackenzie Wright, 2018).

Kaylee Huecker was named the American’s Defensive Player of the Year. She is just the second Shocker in program history to be named the conference’s top defensive player. Freshman Addison Barnard is the American Rookie of the Year after bursting onto the scene in her first collegiate season. In a unanimous decision, Wichita State took home the Coaching Staff of the Year. The 2021 staff joins the 2014 staff as the only two to win conference Coaching Staff of the Year.

The Shockers placed four on the All-Conference First Team with Barnard, McKinney, Madison Perrigan and Neleigh Herring; and three more on the All-Conference Second Team with Bailey Lange, Ryleigh Buck and Bailee Nickerson.

McKinney leads the American in batting average (.434), hits (76) and runs (51). Her 76 hits rank second nationally and broke the Wichita State single season record. The sophomore shortstop has started all 49 games and has two triples, six doubles, seven home runs, 28 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 2021.Barnard is one of only seven players in the country with 20 or more home runs this season. All she did in her first season of collegiate softball was break the Wichita State single season record for home runs (20) and RBI (54). Additionally, Barnard is a Top 30 finalist for National Freshman of the Year.

A Lake St. Louis, Mo., native, Huecker has been a defensive wizard at second base and in the infield for much of her Shocker career. Her 115 assists lead the team, and is human highlight reel providing web gems on a consistent basis.

Head Coach Kristi Bredbenner, assistant coach Elizabeth Economon and graduate assistant Presley Bell combined to lead the Shockers to one of the best seasons in school history. Bell stepped in to help with the pitching staff after the previous pitching coach departed just before the season.

This is the second First Team All-Conference honor for senior catcher Madison Perrigan. The program’s all-time home run, RBI, total bases and walks leader has hit 17 home runs and driven in 49 runs in 2021. Both numbers are career highs. The Mustang, Okla., native will leave Wichita State as one of the school’s all-time greats.

Herring lands on the first team for the first time in her career. The Chandler, Okla., native is having a career year, setting career highs in batting average (.387), home runs (9), RBI (31), runs scored (36), hits (48), doubles (12), slugging percentage (.734) and on base percentage (.534). Her on base percentage leads the American.

Lange is on the brink of registering her second 20-win season in the circle for the Black & Yellow. She is 19-6 on the season in 156.1 innings and a 2.42 ERA. Her 19 wins are second in the American, and her four saves rank eighth nationally.

Wellington native, Ryleigh Buck is a second team honoree for the second time in her career. In 44 games, Buck is hitting .282 with eight home runs, 11 doubles and 34 RBI. Buck has two multi-home run games in 2021, including her first grand slam against Missouri State back in March.

Nickerson is one of just three Shockers to have started all 49 games in 2021. When she’s not making a diving catch in the outfield or landing on SportsCenter Top 10 Plays, the senior center fielder can be found coming up with a clutch hit at the plate. Nickerson is hitting just under .300 to go with nine doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI.

Wichita State opens American Athletic Conference Championship play Friday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN+ vs. the winner of No. 4 Tulsa and No. 5 Houston.

American Player of the Year

Sydney McKinney, Wichita State

American Defensive Player of the Year

Kaylee Huecker, Wichita State

American Pitcher of the Year

Georgina Corrick, USF (unanimous)

American Rookie of the Year

Addison Barnard, Wichita State

American Coaching Staff of the Year

Wichita State (unanimous)

All-Conference First Team

P – Alea White, UCF

P – Georgina Corrick, USF (unanimous)

C – Madison Perrigan, Wichita State

1B – Jasmine Esparza, UCF

2B – Kylie Norwood, Tulsa

3B – Jada Cody, UCF

3B – Sarah Queen, Houston

SS – Sydney McKinney, Wichita State

OF – Denali Schappacher, UCF

OF – AnaMarie Bruni, USF

OF – Addison Barnard, Wichita State

DP/U/P – Chenise Delce, Tulsa

DP/U/Non-P – Neleigh Herring, Wichita State

All-Conference Second Team

P – Gianna Mancha, UCF

P – Bailey Lange, Wichita State

C – Karissa Ornelas, UCF

IF – Rachel McCollum, East Carolina

IF – Alyssa Dean, Memphis

IF – Megan Pierro, USF

IF – Alexis Perry, Tulsa

IF – Ryleigh Buck, Wichita State

OF – Kyra Klarkowski, UCF

OF – Lindsey Stewart-Vaughn, Houston

OF – Alexis Johns, USF

OF – Bailee Nickerson, Wichita State

DP/U/Non-P – Shannon Doherty, UCF

All-Rookie Team

IF – Jada Cody, UCF (unanimous)

IF – Imani Edwards, Tulsa

OF – Kennedy Searcy, UCF

OF/C – Juliana Wilson, UCF

OF – Haley Morgan, Tulsa

OF – Addison Barnard, Wichita State (unanimous)