SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its February athletes of the month for baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s lacrosse, rifle, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and wrestling Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Danny Edgeworth, Mercer, Sr., 3B
Mercer third baseman Danny Edgeworth hit .538, slugged .846 and had an on-base percentage of .639 to lead the Bears to a 7-1 start to the season. The senior from Suwanne, Georgia, scored 10 runs and drove in 10, hitting two home runs and two doubles among his 14 hits. He had four multi-hit games in his first eight of the season, highlighted by a 4-for-6, three-RBI effort in a win over Hartford on Feb. 25. Edgeworth opened the season with three hits against Maryland Eastern Shore and added three more in the series, including his first homer of the season as Mercer completed the series sweep on Feb. 19. Edgeworth hit safely in seven of the Bears’ eight games and scored at least one run in seven, as well. He also drew nine walks to share the league lead for the month, earning three free passes and hitting his second home run of the season against Hartford on Feb. 26.
Others nominated: Ben Peden (The Citadel), Chris Cook (ETSU), Brandon Elmy (Furman), Andrew Moritz (UNCG), Kevin Williams Jr. (Samford), Matthew Koehler (Western Carolina) and Reed Massey (Wofford).
Matt Frisbee, UNCG, So., RHP
UNCG right-hander Matt Frisbee went 2-0 with a league-best 0.64 ERA in February, picking up a pair of wins over Power 5 schools. The sophomore opened his season with seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball in a 1-0 win over No. 4 South Carolina on Feb. 19, striking out four and walking just one to earn SoCon Pitcher of the Week honors. The following weekend, he again matched his career high with seven innings, allowing one earned run in the Spartans’ 4-1 win over Michigan State. He allowed six hits and no walks in the contest, striking out five. For the month, we went 14 innings and allowed opposing batters to hit just .180 against him.
Others nominated: JP Sears (The Citadel), Peyton Taylor (ETSU), Ryan Askew (Mercer), Wyatt Burns (Samford), Bryan Sammons (Western Carolina) and Spencer Kuhlman (Wofford).
T.J. Cromer, ETSU, Sr., G
ETSU senior guard T.J. Cromer led the Bucs to a 7-2 mark in February as ETSU finished the regular season 14-4 in the league to earn a share of the Southern Conference regular-season championship. Cromer averaged 20.3 points per game in February and added 4.0 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per contest. The Albany, Georgia, native scored at least 20 points in four games, including a 32-point effort in a 93-81 win over Furman on Feb. 22. Cromer made 47 percent of his field goal attempts during the month, including 29-of-70 3-point attempts (.414), and connected on 93 percent of his free-throw attempts (26-of-28).
Others nominated: Preston Parks (The Citadel), Francis Alonso (UNCG), Jordan Strawberry (Mercer), Demetrius Denzel-Dyson (Samford), Justin Tuoyo (Chattanooga), Marc Gosselin (Western Carolina) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford).
Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga, Sr., C
Jasmine Joyner guided Chattanooga to a 6-1 record for the month of February, helping the Mocs secure their fifth straight SoCon regular-season title and UTC’s 21st overall. The senior center garnered her second straight player of the month honor after averaging a double-double in February, just as she did in January. Joyner averaged 15.1 points and 12.9 rebounds in February and shot 58.6 percent from the field, which is good for second-best in the conference on the month. Joyner posted double-doubles in six of the Mocs’ seven contests in February, including their last five. The Southaven, Mississippi, native leads the SoCon with 15 double-doubles on the year. Joyner, the nation’s leading shot-blocker (4.04 bpg) posted a SoCon-best 2.7 blocks per game on the month, including four each against UNCG on Feb. 16 and Furman on Feb. 23.
Others nominated: Shamauria Bridges (ETSU), Kahlia Lawrence (Mercer), Bailey Williams (UNCG), Hannah Nichols (Samford), Raziyah Farrington (Western Carolina) and Chloe Wanink (Wofford).
MEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Emmanuel Tait, Samford
Samford’s Emmanuel Tait was named the SoCon Freshman of the Year after registering 18 points, the most among all men’s freshmen, at the Southern Conference Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee, for the Bulldogs. Tait won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.13 seconds and placed second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.81 seconds. Tait’s time of 6.81 seconds in the 60m tied his season best, which he set at the Buccaneer Track & Field Invitational on Feb. 2 and which also ranks No. 3 on the SoCon indoor list and first among all freshmen in the event.
Others nominated: Matthew Moore (ETSU).
Nathan Rivera, ETSU
ETSU’s Nathan Rivera accounted for 20 of the Bucs’ 137 points on the men’s side at the SoCon Indoor Track & Field Championships. The senior won the men’s heptathlon with a score of 5,041 points, surpassing his seed of 3,591 points by nearly 1,500 points. Rivera swept the first four heptathlon events on the first day of competition, which consisted of the 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump events. The Knoxville, Tennessee, native also placed third in the men’s long jump at the championship meet with a distance of 7.00 meters (22 feet, 11.75 inches). Rivera also placed sixth in the men’s high jump with a height of 1.90 meters (6-02.75) and eighth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.76), gaining an additional four points for the Bucs, who placed third overall in the championship meet.
Others nominated: Tray Oates (Samford).
WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Karisa Nelson, Samford
Samford’s Karisa Nelson qualified for the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships after posting a time of 4:35.55 (converted) in the mile, a 2017 SoCon best, at the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Feb. 3. Her time of 4:35.55 (converted) was the 13th-fastest time in the country for the 2017 indoor season. Nelson also won the women’s mile at the Southern Conference Championship meet with a time of 4:43.96, registering 10 points to aid the Bulldogs to their second straight SoCon women’s indoor title.
Others nominated: Katrina Seymour (ETSU)
Selena Popp, Samford
Samford’s Selena Popp broke the SoCon Championship meet record and posted a 2017 season best among SoCon competitors in the women’s pentathlon with a score of 3,779 points after winning the high jump, shot put and long jump events. Popp, a sophomore for the Bulldogs, also won the women’s high jump at the SoCon Championship meet with a best mark of 1.75 meters (5 feet, 08.75 inches). Additionally, the Hixon, Tennessee, native notched a fifth-place finish in the long jump (5.66m, 18-07.00) to register 24 points for the Bulldogs, helping Samford secure its second consecutive SoCon title on the women’s side.
Others nominated: Tiffany Lewis (Western Carolina).
Ryan Lee, Richmond, So., A
Richmond’s Ryan Lee guided the Spiders to a 4-0 record in February, leading the SoCon in goals per game (3.25) and points per game (4.50). The sophomore attackman’s 13 goals in February ranked 12th-best in the country during that span.
Lee became the first player in Spider history to record four straight hat tricks, posting at least three goals in each of Richmond’s four games during the month. The South Salem, New York, native shined in the Spiders’ first contest of the season, against No. 17 Fairfield on Feb. 11, a game in which Lee scored four goals and registered two assists. His six points against Fairfield currently ranks second in the conference for points in a single game this season.
Others nominated: Nick Hruby (Air Force), Lou Yovino (Furman), Will Hendrick (Jacksonville) and Jake Nelson (Mercer).
Benny Pugh, Richmond, Sr., GK
Richmond’s Benny Pugh led the nation in goals allowed (17) and save percentage (.750) in the Spiders’ four contests for the month of February. In the Spiders’ first contest of the season, against No. 17 Fairfield (Feb. 11), Pugh surrendered just three goals on 30 Fairfield shots, recording 15 saves (.833) in Richmond’s 15-3 rout over the Stags. The senior goalkeeper’s eight saves and 70.6 save percentage proved to be crucial in the Spiders’ 10-7 win at Mount St. Mary’s (Feb. 21) in which he saw 32 Mountaineer shots. In Richmond’s final contest of the month, against No. 16 Marquette (Feb. 25), Pugh held the Golden Eagles to two goals while facing 26 shots. The Powhatan, Virginia, native also set a then-SoCon season high when he recorded 16 saves in the Spiders’ 9-2 win over Marquette.
Others nominated: Sean Lavine (Air Force), Alec Van de Bovenkamp (Furman), Ben Bleichenhaus (Jacksonville) and Kiel Brennan (Mercer).
Tobin Sanctuary, North Georgia, Fr.
North Georgia freshman Tobin Sanctuary shot an average smallbore score of 567.67 in three February events. He opened his month with a 564 at the NRA Sectionals in Charleston, South Carolina, finishing 10th overall in the discipline in a match that included No. 9 NC State, The Citadel and The Citadel’s women’s team. The Alstead, New Hampshire, native, who also took the SoCon’s monthly award in November, followed that up with a smallbore win in the Nighthawks’ state championship match against Georgia Southern and Georgia Military, shooting another 564. Sanctuary closed his month at the NCAA Qualifier in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 18, firing a personal-record 575 to claim fourth place in the 27-shooter field, which again included No. 9 NC State and The Citadel’s two teams as well as Georgia Southern.
Others nominated: Selina Curren (UAB), Alexander McAlear (The Citadel), Andrew Hickey (VMI) and Cierra Holcombe (Wofford).
Allison Auten, The Citadel, So.
The Citadel’s Allison Auten repeated as the air rifle athlete of the month after averaging 582.33 in three February events. The sophomore from Abbeville, South Carolina, opened her month with a fourth-place showing at the NRA Sectionals, which also included No. 9 NC State and No. 20 North Georgia, shooting a 580 to finish behind three Wolfpack shooters. Auten picked up a win the following week, posting a 583 to finish atop the leaderboard in a road match at league foe Wofford. She wrapped up her month by firing a 584 at the NCAA Qualifier at her home range, finishing fifth in a field that again included ninth-ranked NC State and No. 20 UNG, as well as UAB, Georgia Southern and The Citadel’s women’s team. Auten was the highest-finishing SoCon student-athlete in the air rifle competition and helped the Bulldogs finish second as a team in air rifle, behind the Wolfpack but ahead of North Georgia.
Others nominated: Lilly Vonderau (UAB), Ruthanne Conner (North Georgia) and Andrew Hickey (VMI).
Tiffany Laughren, ETSU, So., OF/P
ETSU’s Tiffany Laughren led the Bucs to an 8-7 record for the month of February, leading the SoCon in batting average (.477) and doubles (seven) and ranking second in hits (21), fourth in total bases (30) and fifth in runs scored (11) in 44 at-bats. The sophomore recorded six multi-hit and three multi-RBI games in addition to hitting safely in 12 of the Bucs’ 15 games, reaching base safely in 13 of the 15 games. Laughren also hit safely in the first five games of the season, including four multi-hit games during that stretch, while ending the month on a six-game hit streak. The Erwin, Tennessee, native set career highs with three-hit games against Gardner-Webb (Feb. 10) and Alabama A&M (Feb. 11 and 12) in addition to posting a career-high three doubles in the game against Gardner-Webb. Laughren recorded her first collegiate triple in the Bucs’ 11-0 rout over North Carolina Central on Feb. 26 and scored at least one run in the first five games of the season and in nine of the 15 ETSU games for the month. Laughren was named the SoCon Player of the Week on Feb. 17.
Others nominated: Megan Lane (Mercer), Gabrielle Cubbage (UNCG) and Shelby Maze (Samford).
Lindsey Bert, Furman, Jr., LHP
Furman’s Lindsey Bert fashioned a 5-4 record and 2.33 ERA over 10 appearances during the month of February, while notching three shutouts. Bert, who counted a pair of losses to top-ranked Florida State among her February appearances, tossed two-hit shutouts against Towson (Feb. 19) and Toledo (Feb. 24) before hurling a one-hitter against Delaware State (Feb. 25). The Tallahassee, Florida, native, who was twice named SoCon Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 20 and 27) during the season’s opening month, limited the opposition to a .194 batting average and allowed just 38 hits while fanning 39 batters in 54 innings of work. Bert, a junior, was the only SoCon pitcher to earn five wins in February and was second in the conference in strikeouts, just one behind Chattanooga’s Payten Price (40).
Other nominees for pitcher of the month: Madison Ogle (ETSU) and Stella Preston (Mercer).
Adam Steryous, Furman, Sr.
Furman senior Adam Steryous put together a strong month for the Paladins, going 11-2 in all competition in February. The Taylors, South Carolina, native went a perfect 7-0 at No. 1 singles. Six of his wins came in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-4 win over Georgia Tech’s Andrew Li, ranked 53rd at the time of the match. Steryous was pushed to a third set just once during the month, in a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over USC Upstate’s Felix Ewers. In doubles competition, Steryous and his partner, Jake Munns, went 4-2 at No. 1 doubles. They started the month with a three-match win streak before falling to Joel Roberts and Ben Kelly of Presbyterian (2-6). Their final victory during February was a 6-1 win over USC Upstate’s Lenhard Haupt and Ankush Arora.
Others nominated: Nicholas Guillon (Mercer), Connor Thompson (UNCG), Edourdo Lourido Sanches (Samford), Niklas Gerdes (Chattanooga) and Lucas Cerbelli (Wofford).
Marina Guinart, ETSU, So.
ETSU sophomore Marina Guinart continued her unbeaten streak in singles play during the month of February. She was a perfect 5-0 at No. 2 singles to start the season 7-0. Guinart has not dropped a singles match in her career and is 26-0 in singles play at ETSU. Four of her five victories came in straight sets. The Castellar Del Valles, Spain, native teamed with Ioanna Markesini at No. 1 doubles and went 4-1 during the month. Their lone loss of the month came via a 6-3 decision to NC State’s Anna Rogers and Martina Frantova, but Guinart and Markesini rebounded to top Murray State’s Claire Change and Alina Schibol (7-5) before downing Winthrop’s Lauren Proctor and Megan Kauffman (6-4).
Others nominated: Ansley Speaks (Furman), Katia Stavroulaki (Mercer), Nancy Bridges (UNCG), Elsa Pool (Samford), Sydney Patton (Chattanooga), Stacia Kissell (Western Carolina) and Kalli Karas (Wofford).
Freddie Rodriguez, SIUE, Sr., 125 pounds
SIUE 125-pounder Freddie Rodriguez went 3-0 in February, knocking off a pair of ranked opponents. The Cougar senior earned bonus points in two of his wins, picking up a 15-5 major decision over The Citadel’s Patrick Kearney on Feb. 9 and adding another major in a 13-2 win over 12th-ranked Nathan Kraisser of Campbell two days later. The Lansing, Michigan, native would wrap his month with 12-6, SV-1 victory over 25th-ranked Barlow McGhee of No. 10 Missouri on Feb. 15. Rodriguez won his second straight SoCon title at 125 last weekend and will represent SIUE and the SoCon in the NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 16-18 in St. Louis, Missouri. He enters the tournament riding a nine-match winning streak.
Others nominated: Denzel Dejournette (Appalachian State), Jere Heino (Campbell), Aaron Walker (The Citadel), Konner Pritchard (Davidson) and Chris Debien (Chattanooga).
Southern Conference February Athletes of the Month
Baseball – player Danny Edgeworth, Mercer
Baseball – pitcher Matt Frisbee, UNCG
Men’s basketball T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Women’s basketball Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga
Men’s indoor track and field – track Emmanuel Tait, Samford
Men’s indoor track and field – field Nathan Rivera, ETSU
Women’s indoor track and field – track Karisa Nelson, Samford
Women’s indoor track and field – field Selena Popp, Samford
Men’s lacrosse – offense Ryan Lee, Richmond
Men’s lacrosse – defense Penny Pugh, Richmond
Rifle – smallbore Tobin Sanctuary, North Georgia
Rifle – air rifle Allison Auten, The Citadel
Softball – player Tiffany Laughren, ETSU
Softball – pitcher Lindsey Bert, Furman
Men’s tennis Adam Steryous, Furman
Women’s tennis Marina Guinart, ETSU
Wrestling Freddie Rodriguez, SIUE