October 1, 2012

Kay Piper Named No. 5 Female Athlete In School History

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AKRON, Ohio – Kay Piper, the University of Akron's second female athlete in school history ever to earn eight letters in a career, has been recognized as the No. 5 UA Female Athlete of all time, Akron's Title IX committee announced Monday.

Piper was a standout for the Zips on the volleyball court and the softball field during her four years at UA beginning in the fall of 1981 until she graduated in 1985.

"With as many years that have passed since my graduation, and with as many athletes that have competed at UA, I am tremendously proud to be honored in the Top 10," Piper said.

A three-time All-Ohio Valley Conference selection in the fall and a three-time All-American shortstop in the spring, Piper had her work cut out for her during some of the most successful seasons in the history of both programs. Her No. 23 jersey is only the second to be retired by the Akron softball program, alongside former teammate and the No. 10 Female Athlete of all time, Dani Vance Crookston.

Piper led the softball team to back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championship berths in 1984 and '85, just four years after the Zips began to compete in fastpitch.

"My most memorable years at UA were competing for the national softball championships as a junior and senior," said Piper. "Though our team fell short, placing second both years, that journey and those experiences will stay with me forever."

Over the course of that journey, Piper earned NCAA Division II Mid-Atlantic First Team All-Region honors three times, and set records that still hold strong in the program's books today. She holds the top spot in five different categories: career batting average (.398), career runs scored (140), career hits (236), career doubles (48) and career triples (35). Piper also maintains the school record for most RBI in a single game with seven.

As a volleyball player, she ranks in the top-10 in kills per set for a single season. During her four years, the team compiled 113 wins, including the program's second-highest win total in a season when the Zips went 47-18 in 1983.

In 1982, Piper received the Caroline J. Pardee Award, which recognizes the UA Female Athlete of the Year, and in 1994 she was inducted into the Varsity "A" Hall of Fame.

"When Title IX passed, I was too young to understand the impact," Piper recalled. "But, looking back, I am sure that I would have never received a scholarship without it. And without that scholarship, I would never have received a bachelor's degree in marketing and gone on to achieve a successful retail career.

"The passing of Title IX did not just impact my athletic career and college experience, it still impacts me to this day."

Piper is part of a larger group of 40 former female UA student athletes that were named to the school's all-time top 40 list as part of the University's Title IX celebration. The school will honor its long and storied history of women's athletics this Saturday, Oct. 6 during a special reception on the FirstMerit Foundation Club Level (5th floor) of InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.

The celebration will feature speaking appearances by former Zips' individual national champions Christi Smith (Track & Field) and Jenna Compton (Rifle), and others. Multiple Emmy award-winning broadcaster and author Connie Dieken will emcee the event.

All former and current UA female student-athletes are invited to attend an exclusive social hour from 10-11 a.m. Doors will then open to the public at 11 a.m. There will be no charge for admission.

Our Top 10 countdown of the Zips' greatest female athletes of all time continues Tuesday. Be sure to log on to GoZips.com when we will reveal No. 4 on our list.

Top 10 Zips Female Athletes Of All Time
10.  -  Dani Vance Crookston (Softball; Pitcher; 1981-84)
9.  -
Zara Harutyunyan (Tennis; 2009-12)
8.  -
Carrie Kayes (Track & Field; Pole Vault; 2007-10)
7.  -
Kira Sims (Track & Field; Pole Vault; 2001-04)
6.  -
Mary Varga (Track & Field; Jumps/Javelin/Multis; 1999-2003)
5.  -
Kay Piper (Softball; Shortstop; 1982-85; Volleyball; 1981-'84)
4.  -
Tuesday, Oct. 2
3.  -
Wednesday, Oct. 3
2.  -
Thursday, Oct. 4
1.  - 
Friday, Oct. 5