ELMHURST, Ill. - The Summit League named Omaha baseball player Ryan Keele (Bellevue, Neb.) and South Dakota women’s track & field athlete Bethany Buell (St. Louis, Mo.) as its Male and Female Athletes of the Month.
Keele records his first career Athlete of the Month award after guiding Omaha to The Summit League regular season championship, its first Division I league title in school history. The senior was named the league’s Player and Newcomer of the Year and collected three-straight Player of the Week honors in May. He belted the game-winning walkoff home run in a 6-4 win over South Dakota State on May 17 which secured the regular season title for the Mavericks. Keele had nine multi-hit games and six multi-RBI games as Omaha went 11-4 during the month. In a 9-0 win at Fort Wayne on May 4, he went 5-for-5 with a double and three RBI. He added three hits and two RBI in a May 10 win at Oakland along with three hits and three RBI on May 5 against the Mastodons. On May 7, he added a pair of singles in a 6-5 win at Iowa, giving the Mavs the season series win over the Hawkeyes. For the month, Keele batted .509 (29-for-57) with five doubles, three homers, 19 RBI, nine runs scored, seven walks, three steals and three sacrifices. He added a .754 slugging percentage and .561 on-base percentage with just one strikeout and no errors while leading Omaha in nine offensive categories during the month.
Buell collects her second career Athlete of the Month honor after capturing the 2013 NCAA national pole vault title. The junior won the national title by clearing 14’7.25” (4.45m), tying the NCAA DI Championship meet record and helping her team tie for an 18th-place finish, an all-time league-best. Buell also became the league’s first female track and field NCAA Champion and South Dakota’s first NCAA DI Champion. A two-time USTFCCCA outdoor first team All-American, she also garnered her second-straight Summit League Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year honor. The St. Louis, Mo., native became the first female to win the Field Athlete of the Year award twice and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District VI Team. Buell finished the regular season first in the nation in the pole vault (14’7.5”/4.46m) after holding onto the top spot for eight-straight weeks.
Also nominated for the Men’s Athlete of the Month: J.D. Smith, IUPUI, track & field; D.C. Okonta, Kansas City, track & field; Casey Orgon, North Dakota State, track & field; Jason Hager, Oakland, baseball; Cody Snyder, South Dakota, track & field; Trent Lusignan, South Dakota State, track & field; Aaron Michel, Western Illinois, baseball.
Also nominated for the Women’s Athlete of the Month: Ashleigh Bousquet, Fort Wayne, softball; Courtney Frerichs, Kansas City, track & field; Breanna Peabody, Oakland, track & field; Sami Spenner, Omaha, track & field.