Kuzara and Muffo named NFCA All-Region
May 10, 2014
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Juniors Jess Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) and Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill) have been named All-Region by the NFCA following their outstanding work on the softball diamond in 2014. They are the first All-Region selections since Lindsey Miller was named to the second team in 2009, her record-setting senior season at Bluffton. Kuzara is the first First Team All-Central Region honoree since Sarah Betts and Allison Lange both took home that honor in 2004.
An improving Heartland Conference was well represented on the NFCA All-Region teams with six total selections that included Sami Frazier and Nichole Frazier from Anderson and Megan Lalioff from Franklin on the second team. Muffo was joined by Anderson's Yardley Collett on the third team. Kuzara was the lone NFCA First Team honoree from the HCAC.
Providing the punch in the heart of Bluffton's lineup was junior Jess Kuzara who ranked at or near the top of all offensive categories in the Heartland Conference. Her 58 hits, 41 runs and 39 RBI all topped the HCAC this season. Kuzara came in second with a .426 batting average, three triples and a .484 on-base percentage, while her .676 slugging percentage and five home runs were the third-highest totals in the conference. The third baseman also made her presence known in the Bluffton record books as her 41 runs scored was just one off Mollie Brown's school-record 42 in 2008. Kuzara also stands in the top 10 all-time for a single season in batting average (5th), slugging percentage (5th), on-base percentage (9th), hits (tied for 2nd) doubles (5th), RBI (3rd), total bases (3rd) and homers (tied for 4th). She collected 14 walks and struck out just eight times.
A batting average that was up over 150 points from her sophomore campaign propelled Kuzara into the career record books as well. She is currently 5th all-time with a .344 batting average while her .541 slugging percentage is tied for 4th all-time. Her record-shattering 2014 campaign has Kuzara in line to move to the top of Bluffton's all-time lists for runs, hits, doubles, RBI and total bases. She is currently 8th with 76 runs scored, 10th with 110 hits, 6th with 25 doubles, 5th with four triples, 3rd with 10 dingers, 7th with 70 RBI and 6th with 173 total bases.
Third team all-region selection Ariana Muffo set the table for the Beavers during the second half of the season. Muffo's 39 runs scored was second in the HCAC, behind teammate Jess Kuzara who crossed the dish 41 times. Bluffton's leadoff hitter ranked in the top five in the HCAC with 14 two-baggers, five home runs and 15 walks. Her .565 slugging percentage is 8th all-time, while her 39 runs and 14 doubles are tied for 4th on the single-season lists. She finished with 74 total bases (tied for 6th) and her 45 hits this season are tied for 13th all-time. Muffo's five long balls place her in a seven-way tie for 4th all-time.
With two seasons in the book, Muffo is 3rd all-time with a ridiculous .369 career batting average and .556 slugging percentage. Her .431 on-base percentage is 6th on the career list while her 24 doubles are 8th all-time. The standout catcher is 9th at Bluffton with seven home runs and Muffo is also moving up the career record books with 134 total bases, 53 RBI, 89 hits and 63 runs scored despite missing her entire freshman campaign with an injured shoulder.
The Bluffton University softball team fashioned one of the best seasons in school history when its band of 13 capped off the year with a first-ever trip to the HCAC championship game since the tournament went to four teams in 2007. The Beavers scalded the ball offensively, hitting a school-record .330 which was 20 points higher than the previous best of .310 in 2008. Bluffton also set school marks with 381 hits, 212 RBI, 511 total bases and 251 runs, while the 26 victories this season was bested only by the 2009 squad that went 30-13.
The All-Region teams are nominated and selected by NFCA member coaches in each of
the eight Division III regions. First team All-Region choices are
eligible for selection to the NFCA All-America team, which will be revealed on May 21 at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship banquet in Tyler,