Gardner-Webb’s Autumn Owen earned First-Team All-Mid Atlantic Region honors as a catcher, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) announced Thursday

Gardner-Webb was one of 163 programs represented, while Owen was one of 392 student-athletes to receive All-Region distinction.

“I am very happy for Autumn,” said head coach Tom Cole. “She is an extremely talented and gifted athlete. God has blessed her, and in return she honors Him each and every day with her hard work, hustle and attitude.”

The former Polk County standout was named the Big South Conference’s Freshman of the Year when the league announced its annual postseason awards prior to the conference tournament. She is the second Gardner-Webb freshman in the past two seasons to receive First-Team All-Mid Atlantic Region recognition.

Owen hit .384 in her first college season to lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs. She also drove in 50 runs while belting 13 home runs, both of which were tops on the squad.

She earned Freshman of the Week honors from the Big South on four separate occasions, including after a twinbill at Appalachian State where she hit three home runs in six at-bats with two coming in the nightcap. In 52 games (all starts), she had 15 multi-hit games, including a perfect 4-for-4 day in the second game of a doubleheader at North Carolina Central, and 12 multi-RBI games.

She helped Gardner-Webb end 2019 among the nation’s leaders in both team batting average and scoring. The ‘Dogs ranked 30th in scoring with an average of 5.76 runs per game, which was a conference-best. As a team, the Runnin’ Bulldogs batted just three points under .300 (.297), trailing only USC Upstate in the Big South (.307) and ranking 47th nationally.

Individually, Owen ranked in the top 100 nationally in five statistical categories while making the top 75 in four of the five. She was 12th in sacrifice flies (5), 41st in slugging percentage (.774), 62nd in RBI per game (0.96) 64th in total bases (113), 84th in home runs per game (0. 25).

The First-Team All-Big South, All-Freshman team member and league Freshman of the Year also ranked in the top 10 in the conference in several categories including second in RBI (50), slugging percentage (.774) on-base percentage (.469) and sacrifice flies (12), fourth in batting average (.384) and home runs (13), fifth in runs scored (41), and tied for sixth in walks (25) and doubles (12).

Thanks to her All-Region selection, Owen is now eligible for a spot on one of the Division I All-America squads. The NFCA will announce the Division I All-America teams at 5 p.m. on Wednesday May, 29 on its website,