The Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance is pleased to announce that former Connecticut College runner Michael LeDuc and Tufts pitcher Allyson Fournier have been selected as the Bill Lee and Hank O’Donnell athletes of the year.
LeDuc, a former runner at Connecticut College and graduate of Canton High, won the NCAA Division III steeplechase championship in 2014. Fournier, a graduate of East Catholic High in Manchester, led Tufts to its second straight NCAA Division III championship in softball in 2014.
LeDuc and Fournier will be honored at the 74th Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 26 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. LeDuc will receive the Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year award. Fournier is the recipient of the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year award.
Former professional hockey player Craig Janney, former Killingly High and Providence basketball standout Tracy Lis, former Derby High and Yale running back John Pagliaro and longtime FCIAC official John Kuczo will receive Gold Keys at the dinner.
Tickets to the 2015 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., are $75 and can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President Matthew Conyers of The Hartford Courant at 860-874-4166 or email@example.com or Vice President Tim Jensen of The Enfield Source at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be obtained by mailing a check to Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT, 06085.
In 2014, LeDuc capped off an impressive running career at Connecticut College with his second straight NCAA Division III national championship in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. LeDuc won the race by nearly eight seconds.
Just six months earlier, LeDuc became the first Conn College runner to win a regional and national title in cross country when he won the NCAA Division III men’s cross country championship.
In February 2014, LeDuc earned All-American honors in two events at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championships. He was fourth in the 3,000 meters and seventh in the 5,000 meters.
LeDuc, who graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in botany, won three NCAA Division III national championships and earned All-American honors nine times in his four-year career in track, indoor track and cross country.
LeDuc was a four-time All-American in the 3,000 steeplechase. When he won his first NCAA steeplechase title as a junior, he hit the final three-foot high barrier in the race, but he recovered to catch Middlebury’s Jack Davies in the final 70 meters to win the race by 0.08.
LeDuc is currently a high school biology and horticulture teacher in Glenview, Illinois. He graduated from Canton High in 2010 where he was an All-State athlete in cross country and track and field.
Allyson Fournier of South Windsor led Tufts to a second straight NCAAA Division III national championship in softball and was named the NCAA Division III softball player of the year in 2014. It was the second straight year Fournier was named the Division III softball player of the year. In 2013, she also received the Honda Sports Award as the NCAA Division III female athlete of the year.
Last May, Fournier threw 28 innings in two days to lead Tufts to the championship as the Jumbos beat Salisbury in a best-of-three series, 2-1.
The 2011 graduate of East Catholic High in Manchester emerged as a standout in her senior season as East Catholic, striking out 353 batters in 160 innings with a 0.26 earned run average. She led the Eagles to the Class M semifinals, where they eventually lost to top-ranked Seymour, 1-0 in eight innings.
In her freshman year at Tufts, she posted a 23-3 record with a 0.71 ERA, striking out 307 and holding opponents to a .127 batting average. Tufts won the New England Small College Athletic Conference title that season. As a sophomore, Fournier was 25-1 with a 0.59 ERA and 272 strikeouts. As a junior last spring, she was 28-1 with a 0.49 ERA and 314 strikeouts. Over the past two seaons, opponents have batted .112 against her.
Her career record after three years at Tufts is 76-5 with 893 strikeouts in 533 innings. Fournier has 11 no-hitters and six perfect games. In a game against Plymouth State last March, she had 19 strikeouts.
Fournier will start her senior season for Tufts this Saturday against Wittenberg.