LCU’s Chitsey-Crisler; TLU’s Hernandez among finalists for NCAA Woman of the Year

Note: This story uses excerpts of stories by Lubbock Christian Athletics and Texas Lutheran Athletics

Women’s basketball star Maddi Chitsey-Crisler of Lubbock Christian and softball star DeAnna Hernandez of Texas Lutheran were named two of nine finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year by the Woman of the Year Selection Committee.

The nine finalists, three women from each NCAA division, were selected for their outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.

Woman of the Year is the most distinctive annual honor for female NCAA student-athletes.

Chitsey was chosen from the Top 30 Woman of the Year honorees, made up of 10 honorees from each division and 14 sports, including two emerging sports. In 2020, schools nominated 605 graduating female student-athletes for this prestigious award. 

The finalists and Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced during a virtual awards show Friday, Nov. 13. The show will be streamed on the NCAA Twitter account and, and it will be streamed by ESPN.

“Being a collegiate women’s basketball player at Lubbock Christian University has altered my life in the most positive and beautiful way that I could have ever imagined, stated Chitsey, in a comment she provided the NCAA. “Not only did I get to play the sport I love, but I got to gain an amazing education at a university that cares deeply about their students.”

Of the remaining nine finalists, Chitsey is one of two women’s basketball student-athletes. Chitsey wrapped up her senior year by earning a pair of the league’s highest honors, receiving the LSC Academic Athlete of the Year (all sports) and LSC Female Athlete of the Year. 

The Exercise Sports Science major (also the LSC Women’s Basketball Academic Player of the Year honor) graduated with a 3.94 GPA, and was also recognized by the LSC as LCU’s female Scholar-Athlete award winner (all-sports). 

Chitsey, from Wall, Texas, adds to her collection of honors completing her senior season (13 awards received her senior season). During the season alone, she also earned the honor of being named to the WBCA and D2CCA All-America Team, All-Texas Team (Dave Campbell’s Texas Basketball), All-South Central Team, as the South Central Region Player of the Year (D2CCA), LSC Athletic Performance Team member and she was the first player in Lone Star Conference history to claim the conference’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Academic Player of the Year honors in the same season. 

The returning D2CCA All-Region Selection is best known for her overtime three-pointer in LCU’s 2019 NCAA Division II National Championship victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State, which led to All-Elite Eight Tournament Honors. 

She led LCU in scoring (13.5), ranking eighth in the LSC. Chitsey also ranked fourth in the LSC in field goal percentage (46.7%), sixth in blocks (58) and blocks per game (1.9), seventh in field goals made (154) and defensive rebounds per game (4.8) and 10th in free-throw percentage (74.8%). She ranked second on the LCU squad with a per-game plus/minus rate of +16.9 (+17.5 in conference) and is part of a Lady Chaps defense that finished the season leading the nation holding opponents to a 31.7% shooting mark. 

Chitsey was a LSC All-Tournament Team selection, helping LCU to a LSC Championship title in March. During the summer, she married former LCU basketball player Silas Crisler.

She graduated summa cum laude and has participated in mission trips to Guatemala, where she helped build homes, and Ukraine, where she visited orphans and facilitated a vacation Bible study camp. In her local community, she has read to children elementary schools and has visited children’s hospitals and veterans hospitals.

DeAnna Hernandez continues to bring Texas Lutheran University and Texas Lutheran Athletics into extraordinary company and national prominence.

“I am so blessed to be nominated for this award and to be in the running with some of the most outstanding female student-athletes in the NCAA,” said Hernandez. “I would like to thank my family and all of the amazing coaches and teammates who have been alongside me during this journey. I am beyond grateful to be nominated for this prestigious award.”

Hernandez, an outfielder with TLU Softball and a member of the Bulldogs’ 2019 NCAA DIII National Championship, is a May 2020 graduate of TLU. She completed her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

In September, Hernandez made the cut into the Top 30. Now, she is among the top nine NCAA female student-athletes in the country. She is one of three Top 9 finalists from the NCAA Division III.

Hernandez, a native of Sugar Land, Texas, is the third student-athlete from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference to advance to the Top 9 for NCAA Woman of the Year. Hernandez joins Trinity’s Christyn Schumann and Hayley Emerick as Top 9 finalists. Schumann advanced to the Top 9 in 2006, and Emerick was a Top 9 finalist in 2011.

Hernandez is the first Bulldog to reach the Top 30 and the Top 9.

Hernandez entered the NCAA Woman of the Year Award program after being nominated by TLU and being named the SCAC’s Co-Woman of the Year.

Selected from a record 605 school nominees — a group that was then narrowed to 161 nominees by conference offices — the Top 30 honorees included 10 from each of the three NCAA divisions.

Hernandez is TLU’s second SCAC Woman of the Year Award winner and NCAA Woman of the Year nominee since TLU joined the SCAC prior to the 2013-14 academic year. (Amanda Lochte, another TLU Softball standout, won the SCAC Woman of the Year Award in 2017.)

The 2019-20 TLU Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Hernandez was a four-year letter-winner for the 2019 NCAA Division III national champion Bulldogs. She also claimed TLU’s Junior-Year Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award in 2019.

In addition to her SCAC and TLU honors, Hernandez previously was named the 2019 Elite 90 Award Winner for NCAA Division III Softball at the national championship finals banquet. The Elite 90 award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at each of the NCAA’s 90 national championships. In 2020, Hernandez was named the SCAC’s Elite 19 Award Winner for Softball.

Hernandez and the Bulldogs were 19-1 and ranked second in the DIII when the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2019 SCAC First Team All-Conference selection, Hernandez was a career .340 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .412. She registered 37 stolen bases in 42 career attempts.

In the Bulldogs’ national championship season, Hernandez hit .367, stole 17 bases, and scored 30 runs. She posted an on-base percentage of .451.

“DeAnna Hernandez is a tremendous example of what TLU Athletics is all about,” said Texas Lutheran Director of Athletics Bill Miller. “She is an outstanding student and a great player. She is the epitome of a winner. TLU and the TLU Athletics Department are very proud of DeAnna and what she has accomplished. National championships are won with players like her on the team.”

Hernandez, an outfielder on three SCAC Championship squads and three regional-tournament qualifying teams, was a key player throughout her career for TLU Head Softball Coach Wade Wilson.

“We are extremely excited for DeAnna,” said Wilson. “She is very deserving, and she has represented Texas Lutheran University with class and pride. She has been a selfless teammate and tremendous student-athlete. She had an incredible career both on the field and in the classroom.”

Away from the softball diamond, Hernandez was a four-time member of the SCAC Spring Academic Honor Roll, and she made the TLU President’s List in all eight of her collegiate semesters.

Hernandez was a TLU Chemistry Grant award recipient in 2019, and she was the secretary of the TLU Black & Gold President’s Council for the 2019-20 academic year. She also served on the TLU Campus Activity Board, as a TLU Peer Mentor, as an organic chemistry research assistant, and as secretary and president of the TLU Pre-Health Professions Club.

“I will forever be thankful for the opportunities TLU has given me,” said Hernandez. “To the coaches who have pushed me to be better, to the teammates who have become my family, and to the professors who allowed me to succeed, you will always be a part of me, and for that I thank you.”