St. Peter, Minn. - Standout second baseman Lisa Klass (Richfield, Minn.) can enjoy one more honor during her final week at Gustavus Adolphus College, as the senior has earned a spot on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division III Softball Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.
Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.
Lisa Klass, who earned a place on this season’s third team, is the fourth Gustavus student-athlete of the 2011-12 school year to garner Academic All-America distinction. She is also the sixth softball player in Gustavus history to be named Academic All-America, joining the likes of Laurie Voit (1987, 1998), Barb Jaeger (1988), Mindy Mayerchak (1988), Christina Diller (2003), and Rachel Click (2007, 2008, 2009).
With a cumulative grade point average of 3.63 in management, Klass is the only representative from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) on this year’s first, second, or third team.
Since hitting .392 (47-120) as a first-year second baseman, and helping the Gusties to an MIAC Championship and third place finish at the 2009 NCAA Division III College World Series, Klass has put together one of the finest careers in the 43-year history of Golden Gustie softball. A member of the 2009 MIAC All-Rookie Team, Klass recently became just the fifth Gustavus softball player to earn All-Conference honors in all four years of competition. She sits alongside Gustie greats Laura LeVander `96, Audrey Lenoch `06, Julie Mahre `08, and Rachel Click `09.
Klass is quick to give credit to the teammates ahead of her for setting the tone for excellence early on in her career. “I attribute a lot of the success I had early on in my career to the great leadership from the seniors before me. Teammates like Rachel Click, Emily Klein, and Jessie Gabbert were such great role models. I wanted to do well for them because they had put so much work in before I came to Gustavus,” said Klass.
“That team my first year was so cohesive. Everyone knew their role, strove for excellence within that role, and it turned out to be one of the favorite memories of both my Gustavus and softball career.”
Klass was also named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Midwest Region First team as an at-large selection following the 2012 season. Lisa has been bestowed All-Region honors four times as well; following up a third-team showing her freshman season with back-to-back second-team seasons her sophomore and junior campaigns.
This year, the Richfield, Minnesota native successfully captained the youngest softball team in the seven-year tenure of Head Coach Jeff Annis to its third-straight runner-up finish in the MIAC. The Gusties went 34-9 overall and 20-2 in MIAC play, reaching 30-win plateau for the sixth time in the last seven years. Over the course of her time donning the three crowns, Gustavus has gone a combined 138-45-1 (.753) overall and 77-10-1 (.875) in conference play.
The senior captain put the finishing touches on an outstanding career with the best season of her tenure this spring. Coach Annis’ leadoff hitter paced the Gusties with career marks in batting average (.393), slugging percentage (.664), hits (55), doubles (17), and total bases (93). Klass finished 10th in the MIAC in batting average, while leading the league in doubles, ranking second in runs, and third in hits. During conference play, Klass put up even more impressive numbers. Of the 22 league games, she recorded a batting average of .443 (4th/MIAC), led the league in doubles (12), ranked second in slugging percentage (.757), second in runs scored (23), and fifth in on-base percentage (.506). At second base, Klass registered a fielding percentage of .962 after 51 putouts, 49 assists, and four errors.
Durability, versatility, and a strong work ethic have not only helped Klass lead by example on the softball diamond, but those traits also helped her become a leader within the Gustavus community. As is the case for many Gusties, Klass’ involvement at Gustavus covers a wide spectrum. Lisa served as the co-executive director on the Campus Activities Board (CAB), and was the softball team’s representative on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). She is also the marketing chair for the Women in Business Leadership (WiBL) organization, a group that coordinated and sponsored the first ever Women in Business Leadership Conference that was entitled “Women Discovering Leadership” on April 19, 2012.
“Through the Women in Business Leadership organization, I had the opportunity to run the marketing for two conferences that we sponsored. That experience along with the work I did organizing this year’s Homecoming activities through CAB gave me the confidence to go out into the real business world,” said Klass about her off the field involvement at Gustavus. “I have never been at a loss for experience, whether it’s good or bad, during my time at Gustavus. That is something really important to have as I take the next step in life.”
Logging time at second, third, and shortstop over her four-year career, Lisa Klass played in all 176 games of her collegiate career, starting in 175. This season, Klass solidified her place in the Gustavus record books on several fronts. With a career-best 17 doubles, she became Gustavus’ all-time leader in doubles with a total of 48 over her career, breaking Audrey Lenoch’s career mark of 44 set in 2006. Lisa also holds the all-time school record in career at-bats with 511, while ranking third in both career slugging percentage (.614) and runs (148).
A product of Richfield High School, Klass is a career .387 hitter (198-511) with a .614 slugging percentage and a .457 on-base percentage. She carries a career .957 fielding percentage and had a 13-game hitting-streak this season, the fifth longest in Gustie history.
While her statistics make her a unique player, the always humble Klass prefers to be remembered as a great leader and a great teammate than the Gustavsus softball “Doubles Queen.”
“I would rather be known for my leadership qualities than for any of my stats or on-field accomplishments. It was cool to make this journey alongside two other seniors and to recognize that we have made an impact on this program, much like the seniors before us did. Hard work, determination, and a love of the game are what I hope we have left behind,” said Klass.
Following graduation scheduled for Sunday, May 27 at Hollingsworth Field, Klass has accepted a position and will begin work at the UnitedHealth Group in the Optuminsight program. There she will work on a team alongside fellow recent graduates of MIAC institutions on various projects with the goal being to improve health care through information and technology.
“When you’re playing the game, you think to yourself that it’s just a game and that it’s just for fun. But then you realize that it is so much more, and the fact that 26 different personalities can come together and compete each day for one common goal is pretty amazing. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s tough at times, but to keep a team together and accomplish what we have over these four years is pretty special.”