MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Guilford College's Kayli Blankenship and Sabrina Moreno both earned First Team College Division All-State softball recognition from the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) Thursday. Teammates Makayla Carver and Shelby Helms were second-team all-state selections.
The all-state squads consist of NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA student-athletes from North Carolina colleges and universities. North Carolina sports information directors submitted nominees and NCCSIA members selected the teams for the 14th straight year.
Blankenship was a National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Second Team All-Atlantic Region and a First Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) selection last spring. In 37 games, the rookie centerfielder led the ODAC and ranked 26th nationally with a .466 batting average, the third-highest figure in school history. Blankenship's .505 on-base percentage ranked third in the league and fifth in school history. Her 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts also placed among the ODAC's best and are fifth-best all-time at Guilford. Blankenship's 38 runs scored stood second on the team to Carver and rank seventh in school history. She had two or more hits in 12 different games, including four-hit showings in Quakers' wins over Sweet Briar College April 22 and Westminster (Mo.) College March 19. Blankenship posted an 11-game hitting streak, Guilford's third-longest of the year.
Another First Team All-ODAC outfielder, Moreno moved from left field to right field this season and found the switch very much to her liking. The sophomore feasted on ODAC pitching to the tune of a .457 batting average with four doubles and two homers among 32 hits, and 25 RBI. In 42 overall games, Moreno ranked fourth on the team and 12th in the league with a .410 batting average. She was fifth in the league in RBI (38) and total bases (87), and sixth in hits (59). Moreno had a 15-game hitting streak, Guilford's longest of the year, and also reached base safely in a club-best 23 straight games. She had 15 contests with at last two hits, including a five-hit showing versus Sweet Briar. Her 10 multiple-RBI games led the team and helped her to the fifth-highest season RBI total (39) in school history.
Carver made the NFCA's First Team All-Atlantic squad, as well as the First Team All-ODAC unit, as an outfielder. The second-team all-state utility player, she hit .444 in 42 contests with 53 runs scored, four homers, a league-best 18 doubles and 36 RBI. Her batting average stood second only to Blankenship among ODAC leaders and her 67 hits are second-most in school history. She converted on 12-of-14 stolen-base attempts and ranks third all-time at Guilford with 36 career thefts. Carver finished 14th in Division III with 67 hits, her 18 doubles rank 11th and her 1.28 runs per game are 16th-best in the country. She led the Quakers with 21 multiple-hit games, including three contests with four or more hits. One of Guilford's top pitchers, Carver shared the school's Best Female Athlete Award. She stood among the ODAC's best in 2017 with a 10-3 record in 17 appearances with 53 strikeouts and a 1.95 earned run average in 86 innings.
Helms, the college's division's second-team designated player, also made the second-team All-ODAC side at the same position. The senior closed her career with a personal-best .414 batting average in 41 games with 35 starts, which stood 10th in the conference. She also had nine doubles and a career-high 28 RBI. Helms enjoyed 13 tilts with two or more hits, third-best on the team, and a 12-game hitting streak, second only to Moreno's. She leaves with Guilford's sixth-highest career batting average (.382) and ranked fifth in career on-base percentage (.438).
The quartet helped coach Dennis Shores' Quakers to the most successful season in school history. Guilford won a school-record 30 games and went 14-6 in the league, another Guilford standard. The wins marks are two of 29 school records set in 2017. The Quakers were ranked in the season's first NCAA Division III Atlantic Region Poll. Shores could return as many as 20 letter winners, including Blankenship, Carver and Moreno.