BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is continuing its look back at the 2016-17 year with the second of two Top 10 lists, the Top 10 Stories of the Year. No. 2 on the list is juniors Janae Matos and Josie Novak being selected as 2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Americans and Matos honored as the Diamond Sports NCAA Division III Catcher of the Year.
Matos and Novak helped the Greyhounds to a 36-6 record this past season as Moravian reached the postseason for the 23rd consecutive spring with the top seed in the 2017 Landmark Conference Tournament after an 11-1 mark in the conference's regular season.
"The most memorable thing from last season was coming back from Florida 9-1," Matos said. "It was one of the better starts coming out of Spring Break that Moravian Softball has ever had and it was amazing to watch the team come together to show the talent that we had."
Matos' and Novak's honors give Moravian a total of seven student-athletes that have received 11 NFCA All-American honors. The duo are the first teammates to earn All-America accolades in the same year since Heather Bortz and Meagan Hennessy each made the Second Team in 2005, and Matos is just the fourth First Team All-American in school history, joining Bortz and Hennessy in 2004 and Jenn Dalickas in 2015. 2017 is just the fourth year that Diamond Sports has awarded the National Catcher of the Year honor to the First Team catcher.
Matos had one of the best seasons in school history and adds her two honors to a list that includes being on the CoSIDA Division III Softball Academic All-America Third Team, the 2017 Landmark Conference Player of the Year, the 2017 ECAC Division III Metro Player of the Year, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Atlantic Region First Team, the Landmark All-Conference First Team for a second straight spring, the ECAC Division III Metro All-Star First Team and the Landmark Conference Spring Academic Honor Roll.
"Being named an All-American and National Catcher of the Year is the most humbling experience," Matos explained. "I never even thought of the idea that that might happen. Being fortunate to be honored at that high of a level makes all of the years of hard work seem worth it. I still can't put in to words how incredibly lucky I feel and how thankful I am for every one who played a part in helping me get to that level."
Matos paced the Greyhounds at the plate by hitting for a .523 average with 56 hits, 23 runs, a school-record 22 doubles, three home runs, 45 RBIs, 24 walks including four intentional base on balls, a .621 on-base percentage and an .813 slugging percentage. Matos recorded a team-high 203 putouts behind the plate to go with 13 assists. Matos became the 44th member of Moravian's 100-hit club in April.
"The only thing I am hoping for in senior year is being able to bring the conference championship back to where it belongs," stated Matos. "After winning it my first two years as a Greyhound, it was both disappointing and heart breaking to lose on our home field this past season. I will do everything I can to help keep our team focused and to remember the feeling that came along with losing it to make sure it doesn't happen again. If we are fortunate enough to win another conference championship, having one last shot at the National Championship trophy would be the cherry on top."
Novak also has a long list of honors for the 2017 season including the 2017 Landmark Conference Pitcher of the Year for a season straight spring, the ECAC Division III Metro Pitcher of the Year for a second consecutive season, the NFCA All-Atlantic Region First Team, the Landmark All-Conference First Team, the ECAC Division III All-Star First Team and the Landmark Conference Spring Academic Honor Roll.
"Being selected as an All-American an amazing achievement and truly a dream come true," Novak noted. "There are a lot of great players in Moravian softball history who have won this award and just to be mentioned with them is an incredible honor and I cannot thank Moravian softball enough for all of their help along the way."
This season, Novak posted an 18-3 mark in the circle, and she recorded a 0.77 ERA, the fifth-best season in school history, two saves, 13 shutouts, the third most in a single season at Moravian, 20 walks and a conference-leading 144 strikeouts in 135.2 innings in the circle. Novak now has a career total of 474 strikeouts, the third player in school history to reach 400 career strikeouts, and her 56 career victories are fifth in the Moravian record books.
"We have very high expectations for this spring, last season did not end the way we wanted it too and we will be working extremely hard this year to make sure that doesn't happen again," stated Novak. "With this being my final year of softball I want to make sure that we achieve all of our goals and I am looking forward to what this season has in store."
The number one story in the Top 10 Stories of 2016-17 will be released on Friday, August 18 after a look at some of the stories that just missed the Top 10 on Wednesday, August 16.