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Four GNAC Student-Athletes Named to 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District® Baseball/Softball Teams


Courtesy of JWU, SJC, SUFFOLK Athletics Communications


Four Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) student-athletes have received 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District® Baseball/Softball Team accolades, as selected by CoSIDA. The organization unveiled the selections on Thursday afternoon. 

For baseball, Suffolk University senior and Brady Chant and Saint Joseph's College of Maine junior Jared Gagne were both selected. For softball, Johnson & Wales University (RI) senior Katie Rufo and Suffolk senior Taylor Holmes were recognized. 

The All-District Teams recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom. First-team Academic All-District® honorees advance to the Google Cloud Academic All-America® ballot, with first- and second-team Academic All-America® honorees to be announced in June. The Google Cloud Academic All-District® teams include the student-athletes listed here for baseball and softball, and are divided into eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada. The Google Cloud Academic All-America® program separately recognizes honorees in four divisions — NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and College Division. 

Chant is one of 11 NCAA Division III players in the New England region honored for combined excellence academically and athletically with first-team District 1 honors. The Business Open major is one of two players from the GNAC to earn the honor and second Ram in as many seasons to earn the accolade, following in his former co-captains footsteps Matthew Brenner.Overall, Chant is the fourth Suffolk baseball player to pick up the accolade and eighth Ram across all sports to earn the recognition. In total, Suffolk has produced 11 all-district honorees with only one, men's basketball's Ben Small (2006-07), going on to achieve academic All-America recognition. 

The team's co-captain, Chant continued to push the envelope this season as the senior leads the way in nearly every offensive category, batting .357 for 56 hits, 34 RBI, 34 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Chant also rewrote the Rams' record books as he became the fifth-ever Suffolk baseball to knock 200 career hits, accomplish the feat with a lead-off base-hit in a 10-1 victory over Lasell April 8, 2018. Today, he sits second all-time on the Rams' hit lists with 229, nine shy of tying the all-time record held by Jake Cintolo set in 2014. The centerfielder from Warwick, R.I. has been instrumental in Suffolk's line-up since putting on the blue-and-gold jersey four years ago leading the Rams to four consecutive GNAC Championships and four straight NCAA DIII Regional Tournament appearances. Along the way, the four-time all-conference honoree earned spots on the league's first team three times, became the first-ever Ram to garner four GNAC Gold Glove honors and took home all-tournament accolades in each of Suffolk's post-season runs with Most Valuable Player status in 2016 and capped it all off with GNAC Player of the Year recognition this season. 

Gagne, a Finance & Marketing Major at Saint Joseph's College, capped the 2018 season hitting .402 (49-122) with 30 runs, seven doubles, four triples, 25 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. He led the GNAC in batting average, ranked second in stolen bases, third in triples, OBP (.475) and sac hits (7), fourth in hits and total bases (67), and fifth in runs. For his efforts, Gagne earned First Team All-Conference honors and is in line to collect his second GNAC All-Academic award later this month.

Gagne is the only player hailing from a Maine college or university to collect 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District® honors and is one of two GNAC players – Suffolk University senior outfielder Brady Chant is the other – to earn the high academic honor. Including Gagne, seven SJC baseball players have collected CoSIDA Academic All-District® acclaim as Taylor Black '17, Jameson Collins '17, Taylor Reuillard '16, Nic Lops '16, Alex Valenti '15 and Chris Campbell '11 were also honored during their respective collegiate careers.

Rufo has continued to be one of the top power hitters in the GNAC, ranking fourth with seven home runs and seventh with a .714 slugging percentage. She was named First-Team All-GNAC for the second year in a row. Rufo also rates third with 39 RBIs and her 12 doubles rates seventh. This season, the Natick, Mass. native produced a career-best 12-game hitting streak and had 11 multi-hit games. The senior has a stellar 4.00 GPA as a Sports, Events & Entertainment Management major at JWU. Her program is currently competing in the NCAA Tournament after winning their fourth straight GNAC title.

The honor for Holmes was the second time in Suffolk softball history and first since 2006 a Ram has earned All-District honors. The Accounting and Big Data and Business Analytics double major is one of two players from the GNAC to earn the honor and first Suffolk softball player to do so since Angela Belanger in 2006. Holmes saved her best stuff for last as the righthander threw a stellar senior slate going unbeaten 10-0 in the circle in the regular season to pick up All-GNAC first-team honors for the first time in her career. The two-time GNAC Corvias Pitcher of the Week capped off the campaign with a 1.91 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 66.0 innings of action in 13 appearances and 12 starts. 

The Ashford, Conn. product helped Suffolk to its third regular season title in the last four seasons and the top spot in the 2018 GNAC Tournament, thanks to the program's best league ledger of 22-2. Holmes will walk across the stage in May as one of the most decorated Suffolk softball players as a member of the Winningest Suffolk Softball Class in program history, as well as the Winningest Senior Class amongst all Suffolk Athletics sports with a combined record of 118-51. Her name is scattered throughout the record book individual as well, most predominately fourth in both ERA (2.67) and wins (34).

Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.