CHARLESTON, Ill. – Four members of The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team brought home accolades tonight as the Ohio Valley Conference recognized the league’s best performers at its awards banquet on the eve of the 2013 Softball Championships held at Williams Field.
Sophomore Kenzi Tate earned All-OVC first team honors. Senior Leah Taylor and sophomore Lauren Smith were selected to the All-OVC second team. Freshman Deven Wilson rounded out the Skyhawk postseason awards by being tabbed to the All-Newcomer team.
“I am very pleased with our selections for the OVC all-conference teams,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “Our girls have fought hard all year, with their individual accolades comes great team success. There are a couple players that were not represented on the list and for that I’m disappointed, but they know how key they have been to our program’s success. I think the selections indicate the strength in our recruiting and the balance throughout our lineup.”
Tate has gone through a dramatic transition, being known as a strong defensive option at third base as a freshman to the Skyhawks’ primary offensive weapon in just her sophomore campaign. The Opdyke, Ill. native saw a near .200 point bump in average over the offseason, leading the team with a .359 batting average, 11 home runs, and 48 runs batted in. She tied three single-game records against Detroit-Mercy, registering four hits, two home runs and 10 total bases. Overall, she finished the regular season ranking first in the OVC in runs batted in (48), third in home runs (11), fourth in total bases (100) and fifth in slugging percentage (.654).
Taylor has been a mainstay on the All-OVC list after taking first team and Player of the Year honors as a junior. The Brownsville, Tenn. native hit a career-best nine home runs while tallying 27 runs batted in. Once the speedster was on base is when the senior did the bulk of her damage, swiping a UT Martin single-season record 39 bases. She currently has a UTM career record 110 career stolen bases, ranking third on the all-time OVC record books. She is the first player in OVC history to hit over 25 career home runs while stealing over 100 bases. Just last week, Taylor was named to Capital One Academic All-District 3 first team after maintaining an impressive 3.97 GPA. Overall, she finished the regular season ranking first in stolen bases (39) and runs scored (47), third in walks (30) and sixth in on base percentage (.443).
Smith was one of four Skyhawks to start all 51 games this season, after being named to the first-team and all-newcomer team as a freshman. The O’Fallon, Ill. native ranked at the top of the team’s leaderboards with 10 home runs and 32 runs batted in. Smith rode an 11-game hitting streak through the team’s key stretch of games, bumping her average over 100 points in just four games and finishing with a season .321 batting average. Overall, she finished the regular season ranked first in the OVC in walks (37), fifth in on base percentage (.466) and sixth in home runs (10).
Wilson earns All-Newcomer team status after joining the starting lineup just six games into the season. The freshman from Eva, Tenn. quietly produced in the lower half of the lineup, maintaining a .276 batting average while hitting two home runs and driving in 18 runs. She held a .984 fielding percentage, catching over 300 innings this season. She caught nine potential baserunners attempting to steal and recorded 20 assists. She managed to tally two hits against Southern Illinois, but none were bigger than the walk-off single she placed into the right field gap to defeat the visiting Salukis in 11th inning.
UT Martin secured the No. 5 seed in this week’s OVC Tournament, which will take place at Williams Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University on May 8-11. The Skyhawks first appearance in the tournament will be on Wednesday, May 8 at 5:30 p.m., facing the No. 4 seed Murray State Racers.
2013 All-Ohio Valley Conference Softball Teams
P - Hanna Mennenga (Eastern Illinois) - Jr., Gifford, Ill.
P - Haley Chambers (SIUE) - Fr., Coatesville, Ill.
C - Hannah Cole (Eastern Illinois) - So., Windsor, Ill.
IF - Amber Riddle (Morehead State) - Sr., Morehead, Ky.%
IF - Alex McDavid (SIUE) - So., Suwanne, Ga.%
IF - Raquel Howes (Eastern Kentucky) - Sr., Colorado Springs, Colo.*
IF - Carly Willert (Eastern Illinois) - Jr., Bloomingdale, Ill.
OF - Alexis Anderson (Southeast Missouri) - Jr., Buford, Ga.
OF - Sara Borders (Jacksonville State) - So., Alexandria, Ala.%
OF - Kathryn Hollingsworth (Belmont) - So., Carrollton, Texas
UTIL/DP - Lauren de Castro (Austin Peay) - Jr., Torrance, Calif.*
UTIL/DP - Kenzi Tate (UT Martin) - So., Opdyke, Ill.
2013 OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex McDavid, SIUE
2013 OVC PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Hanna Mennenga, Eastern Illinois
2013 OVC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Haley Chambers, SIUE
2013 OVC COACH OF THE YEAR: Kim Schuette, Eastern Illinois
P - Leanna Pittsenbarger (Eastern Kentucky) - So., Urbana, Ohio
P - Stephanie Maday (Eastern Illinois) - Jr., Elk Grove Village, Ill.
C - Katie Tackett (Eastern Kentucky) - So., Murrieta, Calif.%
IF - Alexa Becker (Murray State) - So., Breese, Ill.
IF - Lauren Smith (UT Martin) - So., O'Fallon, Ill.
IF - Taylor Tooley (SIUE) - Sr., Joliet, Ill.
IF - Kayla Davidson (Austin Peay) - Jr., South Fulton, Tenn.
IF - Chelsea Yankolovich (SIUE) - Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.%
OF - Sarah Fobbs (Eastern Kentucky) - Fr., Lakewood, Calif
OF - Brittany Toney (SIUE) - So., Hendersonville, Tenn.
OF - Leah Taylor (UT Martin) - Sr., Brownsville, Tenn.*
OF - Melody Christian (Tennessee Tech) - Sr., Kingston Springs, Tenn.
UTIL/DP - Mia Vierra (Belmont) - Jr., Palmdale, Calif.
(13 players appear on the second team due to ties)
* - 1st Team All-OVC in 2012 % - 2nd Team All-OVC in 2012
Haley Chambers (SIUE) - P, Fr., Coatesville, Ill.
Sarah Fobbs (Eastern Kentucky) - OF, Fr., Lakewood, Calif.
Alexis Anderson (Southeast Missouri) - OF, Jr., Buford, Ga.
Erin Greenwalt (SIUE) - P, Jr., Glen Carbon, Ill.
Haley Schenasi (Eastern Kentucky) - IF, Fr., Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
Kiarra Freeman (Tennessee State) - OF, Fr., Knoxville, Tenn.
Kayla Joyce (Eastern Kentucky) - OF, Fr., La Palma, Calif.
Shelbey Miller (Murray State) - IF, Fr., Goreville, Ill.
Ella Denes (Jacksonville State) - OF, Fr., Pisgah, Ala.
Jordan LaFave (SIUE) - OF/UTIL, Fr., Valrico, Fla.
Chelsea Smith (Southeast Missouri) - C, Fr., Webb City, Mo.
Deven Wilson (UT Martin) - C, Fr., Eva, Tenn.