Cobras Earn Year-End National Honors, Awards
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Cobras Earn Year-End National Honors, Awards

Baseball, Softball, Golf players shine on the NJCAA, pro stage

Parkland College Athletics has enjoyed a triumphant 2018-2019 sports year, and recent Cobras student-athlete honors continue this tradition of excellence. Learn more at our Athletics web pages.

Sam Ballard Selected by Padres in MLB Draft

Parkland Baseball sophomore left-hander Sam Ballard was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball amateur draft June 5. The second-year Cobra signed with Washington State University on April 10 and has until July 15 to sign with the Padres. 

“Sam is a high energy, hardworking, highly competitive athlete,” said head coach Jon Goebel of the Cobra lefty. Sam deserves every opportunity that comes his way. It was a joy coaching him the last 2 years.”

As a sophomore in 2019, Ballard made seven starts over 11 appearances for Coach Goebel’s squad with a 4-3 record and 5.35 ERA. In his seven starts, he showcased an ability to put away batters with eight or more strikeouts in four starts and owned an 11.97 strikeout-per-nine rate overall.

With Parkland facing elimination in the Region 24 Tournament, Ballard tossed five innings with four strikeouts in a 22-4 run-rule victory against Danville Area on May 19 that advanced the Cobras to the regional final.

Newton, Witruk Named to NFCA All-Region Team

Parkland softball players Emma Newton and Tori Witruk were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) NJCAA Division II Midwest Region Second Team June 4. The 91 players selected were nominated and selected by NFCA member head coaches in the three regions. 

Earning her second All-Region honor after being named Region 24 First Team All-Region, freshman Newton was a consistent presence in the middle of the Cobras’ lineup that produced among the best in NJCAA Division II with 347 runs (24th), 523 hits (12th), 161 extra-base hits (18th) and a program-tying record 51 home runs (12th). Individually, she led the offense in home runs (12), doubles (20), RBI (55), batting average (.423) and slugging percentage (.743), while ranking second in hits (74) and third in runs (44). Adding to the impressive power performance, Newton also exemplified plate discipline with just eight strikeouts in 189 plate appearances.

Sophomore Witruk joins Newton on the All-Region team after leading the Parkland pitching staff with the lone sub-3 earned run average, finishing the season at 2.96. Appearing in the circle in 27 of Parkland’s 55 games, she led the team in wins (12), innings pitched (120.2), complete games (11) and strikeouts (67). Highlighting her season in the circle, Witruk combined with teammate Kirbie Mendenhall to no-hit Sauk Valley on March 22. Also, a contributor with the bat, Witruk batted .346 with a .469 on-base percentage to help her own cause. Witruk shined brightest in the postseason, starting all three games in the Region 24 Tournament and hitting her first home run of the season to walk-off Danville Area in the opening round. Witruk would go on to add a second home run later that day against top-seeded Illinois Central.

Kristian Kristensen Named PING All-American
Five Cobras named to All-Region Team, Sebens Coach of the Year Finalist

No. 4 Parkland golf sophomore Kristian Kristensen has been named a PING First Team All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America, as announced at the NJCAA DII Championship Awards Banquet in late May.

In addition to the All-America honor, Kristensen and teammates Jalen Hodges, Evan MacLean, Mason Ghidina and Brandon Rowe were each named to the Association's All-Region Team. Leading the Cobras to a third straight NJCAA appearance, and being named the Region 24 Coach of the Year, head coach Corbin Sebens was named as one of the five finalists for PING Coach of the Year.

Kristensen earned his second NJCAA First Team All-America honor of his career, as No. 4 Parkland golf finished in fifth place at NJCAA DII Championships at Swan Lake Resort. Also named to the All-Tournament team, Kristensen finished tied for eighth place at eight-over for the tournament, while the Cobras finished 69-over (311-315-300-295 = 1,221) as a team for the third-best finish in program history.

"I couldn’t be prouder of the guys for a top-five finish this week and the third-best finish in school history," Sebens said. "I can’t say enough about Kristian and Jalen for everything they have given our program for the last two years. They will go down as two of the most successful players in program history: two conference championships, two regional titles, two top-five finishes at nationals and All-American awards. Kristian has established himself as one of the best players in program history and school history. They will be greatly missed."

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