SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Georgia Southern’s Sarah Purvis won her third consecutive Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year award, while teammate Taylor Rogers was named 2014 Freshman of the Year, as the conference office announced its annual all-conference teams and awards on Tuesday. GSU head coach Annie Smith was named the league’s Coach of the Year, while Katelyn Bedwell of UNCG was tabbed Player of the Year. The awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Purvis becomes the first player in Southern Conference history to be selected as the Pitcher of the Year three times. The senior from Warner Robins, Ga., led the conference in strikeouts with 247 and opposing batting average at .180. Her 247 strikeouts are the fifth most in a single season in SoCon history. She finished the regular season with an 18-11 record, and was selected as the SoCon Pitcher of the Week five times this season.
Rogers becomes the first Eagle since Allie Miles in 2011 to earn Freshman of the Year honors. The Dacula, Ga., native hit .387, scored 24 runs and stole 16 bases for GSU in 2014.
Eagle head coach Annie Smith was recognized as the SoCon Coach of the Year after leading GSU to the regular season title. The honor is the second of Smith’s career, as she also won the award in 2012. Smith guided Georgia Southern to a 33-19 overall record and a 15-6 mark in SoCon play. The Eagles earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Softball Tournament, which is set to begin on Wednesday.
UNCG’s Katelyn Bedwell was chosen as the Player of the Year after leading the SoCon in batting average (.429), hits (69), homeruns (17), RBIs (64), slugging percentage (.845) and on base percentage (.500). She is the first Spartan to win the award since Jennifer Hubbard in 2003. Her batting average is the fifth-best single season batting average in SoCon history and her 64 RBIs are the third-best single season total in conference history.
Purvis and Rogers were joined by teammate Kourtny Thomas on the all-conference first team, while Morgan Robinson was selected to the second team. UNCG’s Lindsay Thomas and Nicole Thomas were first-team selections along with Bedwell. Dominique Madruga was UNCG’s lone second-team selection.
Appalachian State’s Cynthia Gomez and Dani Heichen, Elon’s Carleigh Nester and Samford’s Callie Brister, Megan Dowdy and Mollie Hanson were also first-team All-SoCon selections.
Due to a tie in voting, the second team features two selections at first and third base. Robinson and Appalachian State’s Lindsay Loudermilk were second-team selections at first base, while Chattanooga’s Sarah Beth Roberts and Western Carolina’s Kara Salvo shared honors at third. Robinson and Salvo were also selected to the all-freshman squad.
The Eagles had the most representatives on the all-conference teams with seven, followed by Furman with six honorees. Appalachian State and Samford had the next highest representation with five apiece. UNCG and Western Carolina placed four players on all-conference teams, while Elon had three all-conference picks and Chattanooga had two.
The 2014 Southern Conference Softball Championship begins Wednesday at the UNCG Softball Stadium in Greensboro, N.C. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 at 1:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
2014 Southern Conference Softball All-Conference Teams
1st Team All-Conference
P: Sarah Purvis, Georgia Southern
P: Mollie Hanson, Samford
C: Lindsay Thomas, UNCG
1B: Katelyn Bedwell, UNCG
2B: Cynthia Gomez, Appalachian State
3B: Callie Brister, Samford
SS: Kourtny Thomas, Georgia Southern
OF: Dani Heichen, Appalachian State
OF: Megan Dowdy, Samford
OF: Carleigh Nester, Elon
DP: Taylor Rogers, Georgia Southern
UT: Nicole Thomas, UNCG
2nd Team All-Conference
P: Lauren Collier, Furman
P: Katie Henderson, Chattanooga
C: Sarah Warnock, Appalachian State
1B: Lindsay Loudermilk, Appalachian State
1B: Morgan Robinson, Georgia Southern
2B: Dominique Madruga, UNCG
3B: Sarah Beth Roberts, Chattanooga
3B: Kara Salvo, Western Carolina
SS: Abby Adams, Samford
OF: Alaina Hall, Elon
OF: Nikki Legg, Furman
OF: Courtney Price, Western Carolina
DP: Elise Smith, Furman
UT: Caroline Wilder, Samford
Cara Parker, Appalachian State
Alaina Hall, Elon
Andrea Abatiello, Furman
Elise Smith, Furman
Emily Snider, Georgia Southern
Morgan Robinson, Georgia Southern
Taylor Rogers, Georgia Southern
Grey Adams, Samford
Courtney Price, Western Carolina
Kara Salvo, Western Carolina
Player of the Year
Katelyn Bedwell, UNCG
Pitcher of the Year
Sarah Purvis, Georgia Southern
Freshman of the Year
Taylor Rogers, Georgia Southern
Coach of the Year
Annie Smith, Georgia Southern