ROCK HILL, S.C. – After earning a share of the South Atlantic Conference regular-season softball title last weekend, six Anderson University players have earned All-Conference honors and head coach Tommy Hewitt has been named SAC Coach of the Year, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday.
Hewitt, in his ninth season at the helm of the Trojan program, earned the honor after guiding the Trojans to their first-ever league title and a 38-10 overall record. Heading into the 2014 Food Lion SAC Tournament as the second seed, his squads have averaged 28 wins per year, posting 252 victories during his nine campaigns, including a school-record 40 victories last season.
Since joining the South Atlantic Conference for the 2011 campaign, Hewitt’s Trojans have compiled a 138-59 (.701) overall record in three-plus seasons and stands even with perennial league powerhouse Lenoir-Rhyne (138) and ahead of Carson-Newman (137) and in total number of victories over the four seasons.
Under Hewitt’s tutelage, the Trojans are currently ranked second in the NCAA’s Southeast Region rankings, while the 2013 edition of Anderson softball finished 12th in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Poll after earning its’ first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and gaining a berth in the 2013 Southeast Super Regional.
Senior first baseman Danielle Swygert and sophomore center fielder Molly Child were named First-Team All-SAC, while senior Abby Child, sophomore Courtney Czentnar and junior Katelynn Howser earned second-team accolades. Junior second baseman Jessica Neidigh earned honorable-mention honors, while Czentnar was also named SAC Freshman of the Year as the second-seeded Trojans prepare to face seventh-seeded Carson-Newman in Thursday’s opening round of the SAC Tournament.
Swygert, a former SAC Freshman of the Year and first-team honoree a year ago, closed the regular season fourth in the league in both batting average (.408) and slugging percentage (.704) after raising her batting average 38 percentage points over the final three weeks of the season. The Sharpsburg, Ga. native also ranks third in the SAC with 51 RBI, fifth in on-base percentage (.479), seventh in doubles (13), eighth in hits (58) and home runs (9) and ninth in runs scored (40). Swygert belted three homers and drove in nine runs over the final five games of the regular season, while recording a 10-game hitting streak and a seven-game hitting streak in the midst of the season.
Molly Child earns first-team honors for the second consecutive year after leading the conference with a career-high 13 home runs, including a pair of grand slams on the season. The LaGrange, Ga. native ranks 24th nationally in home runs and is in the top four in the SAC in eight additional offensive categories, including runs (55), hits (67), total bases (116), batting average (.416), on-base percentage (.481) and slugging percentage (.720). Child posted an 18-game hitting streak during the season and reached base in 24 consecutive contests at one point. She also shines defensively, having started 103 games in center field during her two-year career and has not committed an error.
Abby Child earns All-SAC honors for the second time in her impressive career, while holding the school record for home runs. She leads the league with 30 walks on the season, while ranking second in home runs with 11. She ranks third in runs scored (49), fourth in runs batted in (49) and fifth in slugging percentage (.680). Child has started 193 consecutive games over her four-year career and currently holds the school record for career RBI, walks and slugging percentage.
Czentnar becomes the third Anderson player in four seasons to earn conference Freshman of the Year honors, following Swygert (2011) and Neidigh (2012). The right fielder is tied with Abby Child with 11 homers on the season and is sixth with 41 RBI and 16th in the conference with 33 runs scored. Czentnar is 10th in total bases (93), seventh in slugging percentage (.674), 11th in stolen bases (10) and ranks 20th with her .348 batting average. A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., she closed the regular season on a five-game hitting streak.
Howser, a right-handed hurler, posted a 15-5 mark during the regular season while starting 19 contests in the circle. She tossed nine complete games, including three shutouts, while striking out 96 batters in 132 1/3 innings. She held opponents to a .199 batting average and her 1.69 ERA ranks seventh in the SAC. Howser won seven of her final eight decisions, while allowing just 10 earned runs in those eight contests.
Neidigh, the SAC Freshman of the Year in 2012, has now earned postseason conference accolades in each of her three seasons after being named first-team all-conference in both 2012 and 2013. The Trojans’ leadoff hitter leads the league and is 20th in the nation with 56 runs scored and also paces the SAC with 24 stolen bases. She has been caught stealing just once in her career, as the Lawrenceville, Ga. native is 61-of-62 on the base paths. Neidigh paces the conference in runs scored with 56 on the season, while crossing the plate at least once in 45 of AU’s 56 contests. She ranks third in the SAC with 65 hits on the strength of 11-game, seven-game and six-game hitting streaks, while ranking sixth in batting average (.396) and eighth in eight in on-base percentage (.457).
The second-seeded Trojans will square off against seventh-seeded Carson-Newman on Thursday in the opening round of the 2014 Food Lion SAC Tournament. First-pitch in Harrogate, Tenn. is slated for 3 p.m.
All-SAC First Team
C – Taylor Laskey, Wingate
1B – Danielle Swygert, Anderson
2B – Jamie Hockaday, Mars Hill
SS – Jody Mizelle, Lenoir-Rhyne
3B – Haily Jarman, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF – Kelli Hensley, Carson-Newman
OF – Molly Child, Anderson
OF – Brianna Mulkey, Lincoln Memorial
DP – Kayla Saliga, Wingate
UTIL. – Alyssa Miller, Brevard
P – Maryann Hoskins, Lenoir-Rhyne
P – Stacey Houser, Wingate
All-SAC Second Team
C – Sarah Kenley, Lenoir-Rhyne
1B – Sydney Landreth, Lenoir-Rhyne
2B – Mellena Helms, Wingate
SS – Abby Child, Anderson
3B – Robyn Stanek, Mars Hill
OF – Taylor Rosenbalm, Queens
OF – Sydney Weatherford, Coker
OF – Kristen Stinnard, Catawba
OF – Courtney Czentnar, Anderson
OF – Carolyn Williamson, Tusculum
DP – Kaitlyn Bodine, Queens
UTIL. – Amanda Snow, Lincoln Memorial
P – Carley Tysinger, Catawba
P – Katelynn Howser, Anderson
All-SAC Honorable Mention
C – Emily Boykin, Brevard
1B – Caitlyn Lance, Carson-Newman
2B – Jessica Neidigh, Anderson
SS – Alexis Burrell, Wingate
3B – Sara Kelley, Carson-Newman
OF – Dakota Keller, Lenoir-Rhyne
DP – Ashley Oliver, Lenoir-Rhyne
UTIL. – Katherine Shumaker, Catawba
P – Kelly King, Tusculum
P – Jamie Hrobak, Brevard
SAC Player of the Year: Kelli Hensley, Carson-Newman
SAC Pitcher of the Year: Maryann Hoskins, Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC Freshman of the Year: Courtney Czentnar, Anderson
SAC Coach of the Year: Tommy Hewitt, Anderson