Gooden, Benyi Voted Softball's Rookie, Coach of the Year

Photo Credit: Dylan Foran
Photo Credit: Dylan Foran

ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Nighthawks freshman Arianna Gooden (Bakersfield, Calif.) became the first player in program history to be voted the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Year, following an outstanding freshman campaign.

The Rookie of the Year accolade is also the first major award commendation for any player in Nighthawks program history.

Head Coach Caitlin Benyi was voted the NECC Coach of the Year, following a 16-2 conference season, making her the first coach since 2013 to take home the award for Newbury. 

In conference play, Gooden finished the year with 29 hits, 22 RBIs, and a .446 average, all best among NECC Rookies. Gooden was also one of six players to not strike out in conference play this season, the only rookie to do so.

"Her ability to make adjustments and perform under pressure is something we relied on all season," said Benyi. "Ari's passion for the game and personality has been such a pleasure to coach. Like all of our players, she's resilient, flexible and always ready to work. What a well-deserved award for Ari. Her hard work and focus have paid off."

Gooden recorded at least one hit in 15 of the Nighthawks 18 NECC games this season and her season total of 53 hits is second-most all-time in program history for a freshman. Gooden holds the streak for most games reaching base safely as a freshman; a 14-game stretch from March 29-April 19.

As for Benyi, she coached the Nighthawks to a record of 23-17; recording the most wins in a season in program history. The 16-2 mark in the NECC is also a program-best record in Nighthawks history.

In the Nighthawks final 24 games, Benyi coached the team to an 18-6 record and only dropped back-to-back games once; an April 20 doubleheader at Curry College.

"Coaching this team has been so fun. I've been calling them 'relentless crazies' all year and they absolutely proved that right up until the end," said Benyi. "Their fight, grit, and resilience are impressive and it shows what toughness is all about."

What could be missed in the box score is Benyi's and the Nighthawks short roster which only contained 10 players following their trip to Arizona for Spring Training as one member of the Nighthawks squad suffered a major knee injury.

"With all of our unique challenges, we came to work every day with a positive attitude and a drive to get better," said Benyi. "I'm lucky to have coached this team and I'm excited for the future."


See below for a full list of All-Conference Honorees:

Player of the Year: Lauren Vallee, Bay Path
Pitcher of the Year: Madi McLellan, Regis 
Rookie of the Year: Arianna Gooden, Newbury 
Coach of the Year: Caitlin Benyi, Newbury

All-Conference First Team

1B – Jordan Raab, Lesley So., Rochester, N.H.)
2B – Courtney Goggin, Lesley (Jr., Cheshire, Conn.)
3B – Carlyn Barker, Lesley (Sr., Temecula, Calif.)
SS – Lauren Vallee, Bay Path (Jr., Bristol, Conn.)
C – Noelle Sass, Newbury (So., Randolph, Mass.)
P – Madi McLellan, Regis (Fr., Fremont, N.H.)
P – Sarah Bushman, Lesley (Fr., Fr., Aurora, Colo.)
OF – Mekenzi Golden, Lesley (Sr., Laguna Niguel, Calif.)
OF – Arianna Gooden, Newbury (Fr., Bakersfield, Calif.)
OF – Theresa Pereira, Lesley (Jr., Hopedale, Mass.)
DP – Erin O'Donnell, Elms (So., Glenmont, N.Y.)

All-Conference Second Team

1B – Ashley Ciepiela, Becker (Sr., Adams, Mass.)
2B – Samantha DelConte, Mitchell (Jr., Enfiled, Conn.)
3B – Elizabeth Olszewski, Elms (Jr., Canterbury, Conn.)
SS – Brianna Napoleone, Regis (So., Medford, Mass.)
C – Ally Murphy, Lesley (Fr., Raynam, Mass.)
C – Alexa Nejaime, Regis (Jr., Sandisfield, Mass.)
P – Samantha Lee, Becker (Jr., Prospect, Conn.)
P – Alina Milauskas, Newbury (So., Elkridge, Md.)
OF – Allie Petillo, Regis (So., West Sayville, N .Y.)
OF – Naomi Ricciotti, Newbury (Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.)
OF – Catharine Wrang, Elms (So., Middletown, Conn.)
DP – Amanda Navarro, Regis (Jr., Stoneham, Mass.)


All-Conference Third Team

1B – Katelyn Sylvia, Elms (Fr., Southwick, Mass.)
2B – Rebecca Carkhuff, Becker (Jr., Amherst, Mass.)
3B – Allison Caloggero, Regis (Sr., Medford, Mass.)
SS – Suzanne Vachon, Mitchell (So., East Hartford, Conn.)
P – Tessa Cote, Elms (Sr., Granby, Mass.)
P – Mallory Stefan, Newbury (Fr., Thornton, Colo.)
OF – Vasia Murphy, Becker (So., OF, Dracut, Mass.)
OF – Shea Wilson, Southern Vermont (Jr., Mesa, Ariz.)
OF – Jailinne Ruiz, Bay Path (So., Hadley, Mass.)
DP – Katie Walsh, Wheelock (So., East Islip, N.Y.)

All-Sportsmanship Team

Marissa Sarna-McCarthy, Bay Path (So., 1B, Westhampton, Mass.)
Jennifer Boxell, Becker (Jr., OF, Malborough, Mass.)
Katie Banta, Daniel Webster (Fr., C, Oakdale, Conn.)
Katelyn Sylvia, Elms (Fr., 1B, Southwick, Mass.)
Allyson Nisbet, Lesley (Sr., INF/P, Clovis, Calif.)
Imani Mays, Mitchell (Sr., OF, Stratford, Conn.)
Naomi Ricciotti, Newbury (Sr., OF, Phoenix, Ariz.)
Brianna Napoleone, Regis (So., Medford, Mass.)
Taylor Jarosz, Southern Vermont (Fr., OF, Karaganda, Kazakhstan)
Samanth Leahon, Wheelock (So., OF, Castelton, N.Y.)