Duran named Player of the Year

Record setting Bianca Duran

Western Nebraska Community College softball player Bianca Duran is leaving Scottsbluff with a long list of honors. The latest, being selected as the Region IX Player of the Year after setting several hitting and pitching records in her two years at WNCC.

Duran has also been selected as the Pitcher of the Year and she headlines the All-Region IX team announced earlier this week. She was one of four Cougars named to the first team.

Duran was selected as a first-team pitcher along with Otero freshman Taylor Hall. Hall captured the Freshman of the Year honors.

Other Cougars earning first-team honors included freshman catcher Jennifer Cottle, and sophomore infielders Danielle Hearn and Kasey Cash.

Freshman shortstop Angel Council was the only Cougar on the all-region second team.

Duran set many records in her two years at WNCC. Duran finished the season with a .549 batting average, breaking a 13-year record that was held by Priscila Lopez. She also holds the single season doubles(29, home run(23), and hits(110) records. On top of that, she holds the career record for home runs with 38.

She also set quite a few records in the circle, including most wins in a season with her 36 this season. She also set a record for lowest Earned Run Average at 1.11. Duran also set the career win record with 61. She finished her career with a 1.42 ERA and 356 strikeouts.

Louisiana Tech head coach Mark Montgomery is excited to be getting the talented Duran for the next two years.

"Bianca is a fantastic young lady and has had an amazing junior college career," he said. "We expect her to continue her winning ways at Louisiana Tech. There is no question of her development. She has played for what I consider to be one of the absolute best coaches in the JC ranks in Maria Winn, so she will be prepared.

"Not only can Bianca pitch," Montgomery added. "But she hits for power and average. I expect her to be a big impact in our lineup."

Duran is excited to be joining a Lady Techster softball team that went 27-26 this season.

"I decided to go there because they have a really good business program and I really liked the coach because he is a lot like Coach Winn in his own ways," Duran said. "I am really excited to be a part of the program there. I did have a few options but the coach was actually talking to me before this year and he really made me decide to go there because he showed so much interest."

Duran never dreamed of having this big of an impact at WNCC both from the circle and the batter's box.

"I never really thought about being this kind of a hitter," she said. "I was hoping to get a chance to hit but I was happy to do what I could do while I was here. "

The power she showed, really caught her off guard because she wasn't that kind of a hitter at Standley Lake High School in Westminster, Colo.

"I was not as big of a hitter in high school," she said. "I still hit, but not as good as I did here."

Pitching, however, is what she loves to do and she has become quite a flamethrower from the circle.

"I really love pitching because I love to be involved in every situation," she said. "I love to pick up my team on defense or have people to rely on me. I really love that role."

As for all the records she set, she is just overwhelmed.

"It is pretty exciting for me and it is a good way to leave," she said. "I am glad I could make a mark like that."

Duran is not the only player that recently signed to play at another college. Hearn also inked with Division II Culver Stockton College in Canton, Mo. She said it was a perfect fit for her.

"I decided to go to Culver because, first off, I fell in love with the campus, and the coach is a lot like Coach Winn," she said. "I also like the program and the structure that it has."

In her two seasons at WNCC, Hearn became a very salty second baseball this past season, finishing with a .948 fielding average and was involved in nine double plays.

Hearn said that she has grown a lot as a player and a person in her two years at WNCC.

"I think I have matured a lot on and off the field," she said. "I think I have learned a lot about the game and that has helped me become a better player. I understand situations better than I did as a freshman, and I am just a better person all around, too."

Hearn finished this season with a .412 batting average with 13 doubles, five home runs, 47 runs scored, and 32 RBI. Hearn said her hitting has improved because she watches other good hitters and tries to incorporate their techniques into her hitting.

"There were a lot of good hitters [on our team] and I am kind of a copy cat," she said. "If I see someone doing well and see the fundamentals that they do, I will see if it will work for me. I learn a lot by seeing other people's swings."

Hearn, who was a two-year starter for the Cougars, said that coming here was one of the best decisions she could have made.

"It was amazing to be a part of this program," she said. "There is nowhere else in the country like here. I am so grateful that I was a part of the WNCC softball team. It has made be a better person. I will never forget this place."

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