The outstanding season for Erica Harper of the Barton Community College softball team continues week after week as the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) again recently named her the Division I Softball Player of the Week for Week 9. The award marks the third straight week and fourth time this season the sophomore from Topeka, Kansas, has received the honor. Hitting two grand slams in a three home run week, Harper drove in fourteen runs batting 12-for-20 (.600) with a 1.150 slugging percentage and .667 on-base percentage. The 5’5″ right fielder lifted Barton to a pair of road victories to begin the week batting .778 (7-of-9) before sparking the Lady Cougars’ mid-week sweep at Colby Community College with two grand slams driving in nine runs batting .500 in the series. Winding up the week with a series split with first-place Seward County Community College, Harper continued to be a baserunner for her team with a .571 on-base percentage while hitting her then NJCAA leading 16th home run and second best 67th RBI.
For the season Harper is tied for the national homerun lead with seventeen while raking third in runs batted in with seventy despite playing five less games than the national leader. Batting .433 on the season ranking tenth in Region VI, Harper ranks sixteenth nationally with a .847 slugging percentage while maintaining a .473 on-base percentage.
Completing a two-game sweep of Dodge City Community College this past Wednesday, Harper and the Lady Cougars moved into sole possession of third place in the competitive Jayhawk West at 10-8 and 28-13 on the season. Barton will continue their four-day six day stretch with a trip to El Dorado on Friday taking on Butler Community College who sits atop the standings at 10-4 and 23-13. The teams split their two-game series two weeks ago at Cougar Field as Barton snapped a twenty game losing streak to Butler with a 11-3 five inning run rule in game one with Butler getting revenge in the nightcap with a five inning 12-4 victory.
In Week 8, Harper hit five home runs and drove in sixteen runs batting .621(18-of-29) with a 1.241 slugging percentage and .645 on-base percentage. Harper put together multi-hit games in all but one of the eight played, including three or more hits in three of games. At the time, Harper led Region VI and the NJCAA in home runs driving in eight runs in a 5-for-9 effort against Pratt Community College, then followed it up with a 4-for-6 two RBI series versus Butler Community College helping the Lady Cougars snap a twenty-game losing streak to the Grizzlies. Over the weekend Harper added two more homeruns and six runs batted in bringing her leading homerun total to thirteen and a nation’s sixth best fifty-three RBI.
In the week prior, Harper batted 7-of-9 (.778) with a 1.111 slugging percentage and .778 on-base percentage in the only two games Barton played in Week 7 as the Lady Cougars went 1-1 at Garden City Community College. Harper drove in three runs in each while hitting her, at that time, eighth home run of the season, a two-run first inning home run in game two helping Barton recover from a disappointing nine inning walk-off loss in the first game.
Joining Bailey Hensley and Holly Posegate who won the conference award earlier in the season, Harper’s accomplishment was the sixth time this season a Lady Cougar has won a conference award in the season’s first nine weeks. Named the recipient of the week four award, Harper was also named the NJCAA Division I Player of the Week that week, having batted 5-of-7 (.714) with a 1.571 slugging percentage and .778 on-base percentage driving in eight runs including two home runs.
Harper also ties men’s basketball player Ahmad Walker in receiving four weekly conference awards as Walker went on to earn second team NJCAA Division I All-American status.