CLERMONT, Fla. — The seniors who took the Southern Oregon University softball program to new heights, catcher Harlee Donovan and shortstop Kelsey Randall, received national recognition Friday — Donovan as the first NAIA Player of the Year ever produced by the Cascade Conference, and Randall as a second-team All-American.
Donovan and Randall were also named to the NAIA World Series All-Tournament team, the national office announced, after leading the Raiders to a third-place showing and a 51-15 record.
Randall was penciled in atop the lineup card at shortstop every game for SOU over the last four years, collecting 167 wins along the way. Donovan transferred from College of San Mateo (Calif.) prior to the 2017 season, when the Raiders won the Cascade Conference tournament title and made their first World Series appearance. This season they won the CCC regular-season and tournament championships, along with four straight elimination games at the World Series to get within one win of the national final.
“The two of them set the expectation of how this season was going to be and had such a unique way of bringing the best play and a highest level of commitment out of everybody,” SOU head coach Jessica Pistole said. “They made the a great combination of leaders: They were totally different players and people, but were also totally on the same page. They made sure there was never a day when anyone had a question of where we wanted to go with this season.”
Donovan posted a batting average of .447 and an on-base percentage of .593 that was boosted by an NAIA-high 62 walks. Her 12 home runs set a new SOU single-season record, and her RBI total of 77 was No. 2 on the national leaderboard. She also hit 16 doubles and was awarded a Cascade Conference Gold Glove, gunning down 13 of the 34 baserunners who attempted to steal with her behind the plate. At the World Series, she went 6-for-11 with two home runs, a double, nine RBI and 10 walks in six games.
“She couldn’t be any more deserving,” Pistole said of Donovan. “Her skills obviously speak for themselves, but just speaking to the type of teammate she was - her contributions to our team went so far beyond her talent. I’m super glad that other coaches at least saw a glimpse of what we got to experience with her this season.”
In the NAIA career record book, Randall finished No. 1 in triples (31), No. 5 in hits (335), No. 6 in stolen bases (154) and No. 7 in runs scored (235), breaking conference records in all four categories as a career .402 hitter. A four-time Gold Glove winner, as a senior she batted .368 with three home runs, 12 triples and nine doubles. She led the NAIA in triples and runs (73), ranked second in stolen bases (55) and third in walks (40). While shining defensively at the World Series, she also hit 6-for-20 with three walks and six runs scored.
Randall was a second-team selection as a freshman and received honorable mention as a junior. She’s the first individual in CCC history to hit the All-CCC first team four times and win four Gold Gloves.
“I feel like she may not have gotten the full recognition she deserved, but she didn’t play for that stuff anyway,” Pistole said. “There’s not another player who has contributed in four years what she did to the continued success of this program. Ever since her freshman year, she spoke this World Series stuff into existence; when it seemed like a lofty idea to everyone else, she wanted nothing less than a championship. That was her answer to everything. She played that way and trained that way since she got here and we’re all a lot better for it.”