The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced the 2022 Softball All-America teams as selected by the NAIA Softball Coaches’ Association All-America Committee.
Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) pitcher Cassandra Valdez (JR/Brownsville, Texas) has been selected to the Honorable Mention Team. She is the third softball student-athlete to be named to the All-America team. First was Katrisha Arocha in 2014 and Taylor Doege in 2016.
Valdez helped OLLU to the best season in team history as the Saints reached the NAIA National Tournament before being eliminated in the Gulf Shores Brackett. It was the Saints’ second time getting to nationals, but the first time they had won games at the tournament. Two wins marked the first they have won games. After losing the opening match to No. 16-ranked College of Coastal Georgia 3-5, the No. 17-ranked Saints defeated Valley City State University 4-1, with Valdez in the circle pitching all seven innings. She allowed just four hits while striking out five. The Saints also defeated Coastal Georgia 2-1, and Valdez earned the save after pitching four innings. She allowed one hit while striking out five. She also homered in the game and went 1-for-3, adding two RBIs. The Saints fell to the No. 1-ranked University of Mobile in extra innings 3-5. Valdez suffered the loss but pitched a seven-inning gem striking out three. The Saints ended their year with a 46-13 record. OLLU set program records in both overall and conference (23) wins. They lost just three games at home while winning 28.
Valdez earned All-Conference First-Team and was selected Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. She also received All-Tournament and Red River Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete honors this year. Her career records include: second in slugging percentage at .676, tied for first in ERA at 1.79, fifth in shutouts with five, fourth in wins with 24 and fourth in strikeouts with 238; season records include: third in home runs with nine, fifth in slugging percentage at .676, first in games played with 40, fourth in ERA with 1.79, third in shutouts with five, second in wins with 24, first in innings pitched with 203.2 and third in strikeouts with 238.
Valdez will return to the Saints squad for her senior year. The team will play a handful of fall games and begin their season in spring 2023.