DUBOIS, Penn. – Damain Benefield, Owls baseball infielder, and Cara Hopper, Owls softball pitcher received national recognition following the 2018 USCAA National Championship tournament. The two student-athletes stood out among their teammates and competitors to be named to the Small College World Series All-Tournament Team.
The Owls baseball team went 2-2 during the event with two wins over Florida National and a near miss against Selma University. Benefield, a freshman infielder, played in all four games for a .333 batting average, six hits, and five RBIs. Despite the loss, the Ranburne, Ala. native's standout game was against Selma where he went 2-for-2 with a home run and a double for two runs and one RBI.
The all-tournament recognition was not the first honor for Benefield this season. The Owls power hitter was named to the 2018 USCAA Baseball All-American First Team, grabbed a USCAA Player of the Week honor, and was named as the April Renasant Bank Athlete of the Month. During the 2018 season, Benefield maintained a .437 batting average and a .757 slugging percentage with 45 hits, seven home runs, 12 doubles, and 37 RBIs.
As the only senior on the Owls softball team, Cara Hopper, a right-handed pitcher, was the driving force behind the Owls softball world series appearance. Also going 2-2 on the national stage, softball grabbed wins over Penn State – Bever and Penn State – Schuyllkill and suffered a 5-4 to the eventual world series finalist St. Mary of the Woods. Appearing in all four games with one complete game, Hopper pitched 17.4 innings for 29 strikeouts. Her standout performance was in the Owls tournament opening shutout over Penn State – Beaver in which the Steens, Miss. native pitched the entire game for 11 strikeouts and a 7-0 victory.
During the season, Hopper appeared in 21 games with 14 starts and one save for a 7-7 record. She pitched 88.1 innings for 76 strikeouts and a 3.09 ERA. Because of her performance during the world series, Hopper was named as the June Renasant Bank Athlete of the Month.