Merrimack Athletics announces 2019 Hall of Fame class

Ryan O'Rourke
Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College Athletic Department is excited to unveil its Hall of Fame Class of 2019, which features five former student-athletes who will be enshrined this fall as the newest members of the Merrimack Athletics Hall of Fame.

Five former student-athletes representing five different programs comprise the Hall of Fame Class of 2019. All five inductees uniquely brought distinction, honor, pride and excellence to Merrimack College through their athletic accomplishments and impact on the campus community. The Merrimack women’s soccer, softball, baseball, football and men’s soccer programs will all be represented in the latest Hall of Fame class; the baseball, football and men’s soccer programs will each have their second student-athlete inducted, the women’s soccer program will have its third while the softball team received its fifth-ever inductee

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Athletics Hall of Fame Lobby located in the Merrimack Athletics Complex.  The event coincides with the College’s annual Homecoming Weekend, which includes a number of home athletics events, including four different teams playing on campus on the day of the induction ceremony.

“Our Merrimack Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 showcases outstanding student-athletes, and includes some of the best and brightest to come through our campus community,” said President Dr. Christopher E. Hopey. “We are thrilled to honor these noteworthy student-athletes, recognizing their impact on our storied history in athletics as we elevate into Division I.”

“Setting an example for athletic excellence, this group of Warriors impacted their programs immensely and left a long-lasting mark on Merrimack’s campus,” commented Director of Athletics Jeremy Gibson. “This class spans three decades of athletic excellence at Merrimack, and I’m thrilled to welcome these five former student-athletes into our Hall of Fame!”

Merrimack College Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Inductees
Stacey (Dell’Anno) Laganas ’99 | Softball 
A two-time All-American (1998, 1999), Stacey (Dell’Anno) Laganas was an instrumental member of back-to-back regional championship winning teams (1998, 1999) for the Merrimack softball program. She holds the single-season batting average (.529), and RBI (55), and appears twice on the single-season home run record, hitting a program-best 18 during her senior season and 15 (third all-time) during her junior year. Additionally, one of her most impressive single-season feats includes not striking out a single time during her senior season; that season she was the second hardest to strikeout nationwide in addition to leading the country in slugging percentage (1.043) and ranking third in batting average. She was selected as the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year in 1999, capping off her historic 1999 campaign. Laganas’s career accolades include ranking third all-time in hits in a single-season with 73, and second all-time in runs scored during a single season (52). In Warriors’ program history, the slugger currently sits fourth all-time in batting average, hitting .403 from 1996-1999.  The all-time leader in homers with 45, Laganas also ranks among the top five in runs scored during her career (147) and RBI (167).

Richard Fleming ’97 | Men’s Soccer
Merrimack’s leading scorer on three straight conference-winning seasons from 1994-1996, Richard Fleming’s impact on the men’s soccer program has arguably been the best. Fleming’s Warriors won the NE10 Regular Season in 1994, the NE10 Conference Tournament in 1995 and both the regular season and tournament championships in 1996. To this day, Fleming is the NE10’s all-time leader in points (171) and assists (55), while ranking fourth in goals (58). In Merrimack lore, he is the all-time leader in all three categories. He owns the three highest single-season points totals (46, 52, 60), and his 1.99 points per game average is the highest in school history. Fleming also boasts the single-season records in goals (19), assists (22) and points/game (2.61).  After finishing his college career, Fleming signed a professional contract with the New Hampshire Phantoms of the USL.  He went on loan for a season to Cobh Ramblers in the League of Ireland Division 1.  He retired after eight seasons with the New Hampshire Phantoms in 2004, as a 1st Team USL All-Star and 2nd most games played in club history.

Tony Johnson ’12 | Football 
Tony Johnson graduated as arguably the top defensive lineman in program history, culminating his career with an All-American campaign in the 2010 season. He was also the two-time NE10 Defensive Lineman of the Year (2009, 2010), helping the Warriors win their second league championship as a sophomore. Johnson was a two-time Daktronics All-Super Region 1 Team selection as a junior and senior, and also earned a spot on the New England Football Writers’ and Football Gazette All-Region team as a senior, as well. He is one of only two players in program history to be named a first team all-conference selection on defense in every season, sharing the honor with 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Andrew Jackson. Johnson still ranks third in NE10 history (first in program history) in career sacks (36.0). He is tied for 20th in league history (first in school history) in single-season sacks (11.5). After graduating, he earned brief pro stints in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets as an undrafted free agent.

Michelle Muise ’88 | Women’s Soccer
The first-ever NE10 Player of the Year of any sport in college history (1985), Michelle Muise of the women’s soccer program is one of the top players ever to play for the Warriors in an era that saw Merrimack serve as the area’s top program. Muise was a three-time First Team All-Conference selection, a three-time All-New England, a one-time athletic All-American (1987) and two-time Adidas Scholar All-America. She ranks among the top-10 in most scoring records in women’s soccer history, and was instrumental in getting Merrimack to win consecutive NE10 regular season and tournament titles in 1986 and 1987.

Ryan P. O’Rourke ’10 | Baseball
The only member of the Merrimack baseball program to play in Major League Baseball, Ryan O’Rourke becomes the first baseball student-athlete since 1980 to receive a Hall of Fame induction. The son of David and Pamela, O’Rourke led Merrimack to its first postseason appearance in seven years in 2010 and recorded the program’s first playoff win in a decade in the 2010 NE10 Championship. He owns program records for career ERA (1.95), while ranking in the top-five in school history in strikeouts (194), wins (13), batting average against (.219) and strikeouts-per-nine-innings (9.19). He also owns Merrimack’s single-season strikeout record with 93. His postseason accolades included a 2010 NE10 All-Conference First Team selection, a Rawlings Gold Glove Award (one of 7 Div. II players honored) and being named a semifinalist for the Div. II Player of the Year (1 of 35 selections nationwide). O’Rouke was selected in the 13th round of the MLB draft in 2010 – the highest-ever selection for a Merrimack player – and has pitched in the majors for both the Minnesota Twins and the New York Mets. His MLB debut came in 2015, and since then has made an impact both on the field and through his various charitable endeavors.

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