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SoCon announces February athletes of the month
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 03/08/2018
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Western Carolina's Ty-Leah Hampton
Courtesy: Southern Conference
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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 and women’s lacrosse, rifle, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and wrestling Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.

BASEBALL

PLAYER
Cesar Trejo, UNCG, Jr., OF
Helping the Spartans to a 5-3 start to the year, UNCG’s Cesar Trejo batted .483 in the month of February. The junior right fielder from Greensboro, North Carolina, began the year red hot from the plate, going 4-for-8 with two home runs and eight RBIs in two victories over Appalachian State. In a win over Oakland, Trejo had a pair of extra-base hits, scoring two runs and stealing a base. Trejo has registered at least one hit in every game this year, working five walks and scoring eight runs. Trejo currently leads UNCG in average (.489), slugging percentage (.867), on-base percentage (.566), RBIs (16), triples (three) and total bases (39). For the conference, Trejo tops the list in batting average, slugging percentage and triples, ranking third in on-base percentage and RBIs.

Others nominated: William Kinney (The Citadel), Caleb Longley (ETSU), Alex Hanson (Mercer), Anthony Mulrine (Samford), Matt Dunlevy (VMI), Andrew Bullock (Western Carolina) and Mack Nathanson (Wofford).

PITCHER
Andrew Wantz, UNCG, Sr., RHP
Appearing in five games, UNCG’s Andrew Wantz allowed just one run in all of February. The right-hander is 2-0 with a pair of saves in the first month of the season, boasting an ERA of 0.82. Totaling 17 strikeouts in the month, Wantz has struck out five batters twice this season. Wants has allowed just four hits all season and walked only three batters. Wantz currently leads the Spartans in ERA (1.20), opposing batting average (1.60), appearances (eight) and batters struck out (22). Wantz is currently second in the SoCon in ERA (1.20) while leading the league in saves (four) and games finished (six).

Others nominated: Alex Bialakis (The Citadel), Ryan Simpler (ETSU), Christian Vann (Mercer), Sam Strickland (Samford), Jake Niezen (Western Carolina) and Austin Higgenbotham (Wofford).

MEN’S BASKETBALL
Fletcher Magee, Wofford, Jr., G
Wofford guard Fletcher Magee averaged 22.0 points per game in February to become the first three-time player of the month in a season since Davidson’s Stephen Curry took the honor in the first three months of the 2008-09 season. Magee scored in double figures in each contest, hitting at least 20 points six times in nine contests and dropping a career-high 45 points in a win at Chattanooga on Feb. 17 to set a school Division-I record. The junior from Orlando, Florida, hit 11 3-pointers in that contest, matching the school record and tying the No. 2 mark in SoCon history. Magee, who drained multiple 3-pointers in seven games in the month, went over 100 triples for the season, making him the first player in school history with consecutive seasons over the century mark, and broke the single-season school record he set last season. He also became the Terriers’ career 3-point leader in February, surpassing Karl Cochran’s mark of 312, and moved into the top 10 in scoring in program history. Magee averaged 3.1 rebounds per game, turning in six games with at least three, and shot 48.2 percent from the field (67-for-139) and 40 percent from 3-point range (36-for-90). The SoCon’s career free-throw percentage leader was 28-for-32 from the line in February (87.5 percent).

Others nominated: Zane Najdawi (The Citadel), Desonta Bradford (ETSU), James Dickey (UNCG), Eric Adams (Samford) and Mike Amius (Western Carolina).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Tianna Tarter, ETSU, Sr., G
ETSU’s Tianna Tarter finished the month of February averaging 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists as the Bucs went 5-2. Tarter had four 20-point games and one double-double and averaged 3.3 steals per game in the seven contests. Following a loss at UNCG, Tarter posted three consecutive 20-point games, dropping 23 at Western Carolina and 27 at Chattanooga as the Bucs completed the regular-seasons sweep against the Mocs for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Tarter also grabbed 10 boards in the win at Chattanooga. The senior’s third 20-point game of the month came in a win over Wofford as Tarter tallied 23 points and brought down seven rebounds. In ETSU’s win at Samford, The Johnson City, Tennessee, native scored 25 points and tallied eight rebounds and five assists. Tarter finished the month shooting 75 percent from the free-throw line and made 10-of-12 free throws at Mercer. The 5-6 guard averaged 39.0 minutes per game and became ETSU’s all-time career free-throw leader. Tarter has now made 444 in her four-year career. 

Others nominated: Cierra Carter (Furman), Kahlia Lawrence (Mercer), Ije Ajemba (UNCG), Hannah Nichols (Samford) and Da’Ja Green (Wofford).

MEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD

TRACK
Emmanuel Tait, Samford, So.
Samford’s Emmanuel Tait earned the February monthly track honor for the second straight season. The sophomore from Alabaster, Alabama, was voted the Most Outstanding Track Performer of the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships by the league’s head coaches after a trio of runner-up finishes at the meet. Tait took second in the 60-meter dash (6.78 seconds), the 60-meter hurdles (8.00 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (21.65 seconds). Earlier in the month, he won the 60-meter hurdles (8.04) at the Jaguar Open and at the Samford Invitational (7.98) and finished second in the 60-meter dash (6.83) at the Samford Invitational.
Others nominated: Simeon Roberts (ETSU), Henry Keidi (Western Carolina).

FIELD
Tray Oates, Samford, R-Sr.
Samford’s Tray Oates claimed his second straight monthly indoor honor and the third of his career after several impressive performances in February. At the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 25, Oates became the league’s first-ever four-time indoor pole vault champion, clearing 5.00 meters (16 feet, 4.75 inches). The redshirt senior from Acworth, Georgia, was also a two-time field athlete of the week in February, taking the honor after tying for fourth in the pole vault at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Feb. 17 with a season-best height of 5.63 meters (18 feet, 5.5 inches), which was good for third on the NCAA Division I performance list, and after clearing a height of 5.51 meters (18 feet, 1 inch) to win the pole vault and set a meet record at the Samford Open the week prior.

Others nominated: Ben Johnson (ETSU), Mateius Brown (Western Carolina), Kevin Hires (Western Carolina).

WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD

TRACK
Ty-Leah Hampton, Western Carolina, Gr.
Western Carolina graduate transfer Ty-Leah Hampton earned her first monthly honor after earning Most Outstanding Track Performer honors at the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Eden, North Carolina, native won three titles at the conference meet, claiming the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash (24.07 seconds), matching the meet record in the 60m with a time of 7.43 seconds. In addition, she ran the anchor leg on the Catamounts’ 4x400-meter relay unit that took gold in 3:46.71. Hampton also claimed a victory in the 200m at the Dunamis Super Meet in 25.15 seconds and took second in the 60m in 7.577 on Feb. 9. She opened her month by being named the Most Outstanding Female Track Athlete of ETSU’s Buccaneer Track & Field Invitational with wins in the 200m (24.52) and 4x400 (3:50.65) and a runner-up 60m finish (7.597).

Others nominated: Kerisha Goode (VMI).

FIELD
Selena Popp, Samford, Jr.
Samford’s Selena Popp repeated as field athlete of the month and won her third indoor monthly honor overall after a dominant February that included being voted the Most Outstanding Field Performer and earning Most Outstanding Athlete honors at the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships. The sophomore from Hixon, Tennessee, won the pentathlon, high jump (1.70 meters) and long jump (6.04 meters), breaking her own meet record in the pentathlon with a score of 4,118 points. Popp, who also ran a leg on the Bulldogs’ runner-up 4x400-meter relay squad, nearly pulled off the sweep in the pentathlon, opening with a second-place showing in the 60-meter hurdles before turning in wins in the high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run. Earlier in the month, Popp took sixth place in the high jump (1.64 meters) at the Jaguar Invitational.

Others nominated: Simone Williams (Western Carolina).

MEN’S LACROSSE

OFFENSE
Eric Applegate, Jacksonville, Jr., A
Jacksonville attackman Eric Applegate scored 12 goals and added six assists for 18 points in five February contests for the Dolphins, who went 2-3 with all three losses coming to ranked opponents. The junior from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, opened his season with three goals and an assist in JU’s 12-7 win over Navy, which was receiving votes in the preseason Maverik Lacrosse Media Poll. Applegate duplicated that stat line in the Dolphins’ loss to No. 2/1 Duke on Feb. 10 before notching three goals – including a man-down score – and two assists in a one-goal loss to No. 17/20 Marquette. He notched two goals and two assists in a 15-8 win over Detroit Mercy before closing his month with a goal in Jacksonville’s 12-11 overtime loss to No. 4/5 Ohio State.

Others nominated: Nick Hruby (Air Force), David Williamson (Furman) and Teddy Hatfield (Richmond).

DEFENSE
Trent Harper, Air Force, Jr., FO
Air Force’s Trent Harper averaged 6.0 ground balls per game and won 60 percent of his faceoffs in February. Harper opened his season with 10 ground balls against No. 2/1 Duke, also scoring a goal and going 16-for-26 in faceoff opportunities. In a snowy contest against No. 4/4 Denver a week later, he grabbed two ground balls and caused a turnover and went 9-for-18 in faceoffs against three-time All-American and 2017 Tewaaraton Award finalist Trevor Baptiste, holding Baptiste in single-digit faceoff wins for the first time in his career. The junior from Birmingham, Alabama, then closed his month with six ground balls in back-to-back contests, doing so in an 8-7 win over Marist and then again, adding a caused turnover, against Cleveland State. Harper was 12-for-19 in faceoffs against Marist and 11-for-17 against Cleveland State.

Others nominated: Dixon Smith (Jacksonville) and Blake Goodman (Richmond).

WOMEN’S LACROSSE

OFFENSE
Kaitlyn Wandelt, Detroit Mercy, R-So., MF
Leading the team in goals, Detroit Mercy’s Kaitlyn Wandelt racked up five scores in February to go along with two assists. After registering an assist against No. 11 Northwestern, the redshirt sophomore notched four goals on just six shots against Ohio State. Wandelt, a Sayville, New York, native, saved her best performance of the season for Detroit Mercy’s 16-8 win over American, in which she scored five goals and had one assist. Wandelt was 9-of-18 shooting for the month, causing three turnovers while picking up eight ground balls and winning four draw controls.
Others nominated: Emma Hamilton (Central Michigan), Erica Coyne (Mercer) and Hannah Mutch (Wofford).

DEFENSE
Jocelyne Lemay, Central Michigan, Jr., MF
Leading the Chippewas to a 2-2 record, Central Michigan’s Jocelyne Lemay was a factor in both the offensive and defensive facets of the game. The junior midfielder from Peterborough, Ontario, totaled 15 draw controls, six ground balls and one caused turnover. Offensively, Lemay scored seven goals and had two assists. On Feb. 23, Lemay scored three goals and dished out one assist to help lift the Central Michigan to its first victory of the year, a 12-10 comeback win against American. Five days later, Lemay had perhaps her best game of the young season, scoring four goals on six shots while winning four draw controls, causing one turnover and picking up two ground balls in a 19-9 win over Butler.

Others nominated: Lauren Webley (Detroit Mercy), Audrey Robertson (Mercer) and Kelsey Thompson (Wofford).

RIFLE

SMALLBORE
Courtney Weekley, Georgia Southern, Jr.
For the second time this season, Georgia Southern’s Courtney Weekley claimed the SoCon Smallbore Shooter of the Month award. The junior from Abbeville, South Carolina, competed twice in February, posting scores of 569 and 568. On Feb. 3, Weekley posted a score of 569, placing first in a field of 29 competitors. On Feb. 17, Weekley fired a 568, which was good for second place overall. Weekley was also named smallbore shooter of the month in November.

Others nominated: Allison Auten (The Citadel).

AIR RIFLE
Rosemary Kramer, Georgia Southern, Jr.
Competing twice in the month, Georgia Southern’s Rosemary Kramer posted scores of 586 and 587 against SoCon competition. On Feb. 3, Kramer fired a 586, which placed her second in a field of 28 competitors. The junior from Culloden, Georgia, would best that performance with a first-place 587 on Feb. 17. Entering the SoCon Rifle Championship last weekend, Kramer boasted the league’s highest aggregate score of the season (1165).
Others nominated: Max Brabston (The Citadel).

SOFTBALL

PLAYER
Marisa Sholtes, UNCG, R-Jr., 1B
UNCG’s Marisa Sholtes and company got off to a hot start in the 2018 season, going 11-3 and defeating four Power 5 conference teams. Sholtes finished the month with 15 hits, 13 runs, nine RBIs and four home runs while also recording 108 putouts. The redshirt junior earned the first weekly honor of the season after going 6-for-9 with three home runs, six hits and six RBIs in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in Conway, South Carolina, finishing with a .786 on-base percentage and 1.667 slugging percentage. Following the season-opening tournament, the Albany, New York, native recorded six games with at least one hit, including a two-hit, two-RBI, three-run effort in a win over Seton Hall on Feb. 23. The first baseman finished the month hitting .441 and started all 14 games. Sholtes currently ranks first in the league in slugging percentage and on-base percentage and second in batting average.

Others nominated: Lauren Lee (ETSU), Caroline Taylor (Mercer) and Hannah Trombley (Samford).

PITCHER
Emily DeMonte, Furman, Jr., RHP
Furman’s Emily DeMonte went 6-0 with a 0.53 ERA in seven February appearances to power Furman to a 12-3 record. The Sumter, South Carolina, native pitched 39 2/3 innings over the course of the month, striking out 19. DeMonte started the season with a five-inning effort in a win over Marshall, scattering five hits and allowing an unearned run with five strikeouts to give DeMonte her first win of the season. In her next appearance, DeMonte came on in relief to limit a powerful Wichita State offense to an earned run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings to garner her second victory at the season-opening Plainsmen Invitational. On Feb. 16, Demonte tossed a four-hit shutout versus Colgate and then held Fairfield without an earned run over seven innings to down the Stags two days later. The right-hander picked up a pair of complete-game victories over Presbyterian, allowing just one earned run in each contest, before tossing a scoreless inning in the Paladins’ 2-1, 10-inning victory over Winthrop this past Sunday. For the month, DeMonte allowed just three earned runs on 36 hits. DeMonte also helped herself at the dish, hitting .304 with three doubles and three RBIs. The junior currently boasts the lowest ERA in the conference and has the second-most wins behind teammate Lindsey Bert.

Others nominated: Madison Ogle (ETSU), Stella Preston (Mercer) and Alicia Bazonski (UNCG).

MEN’S TENNIS
Robert Herrera, ETSU, Sr.
ETSU’s Robert Herrera went 4-1 at the No. 1 singles spot and 4-2 at the No. 2 doubles spot during the month, helping the Bucs to a 3-3 record in February. Herrera started the month with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alvara Verdu of Marquette and was leading 6-4, 5-7, 5-2 when his match against Chema Carranza of Wisconsin was stopped when the team score was clinched. The Barcelona, Spain, native then reeled off three straight victories, earning a 6-0, 6-3 win versus Vitor Lima of VCU, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over William & Mary’s Christian Cargill and ending the three-match streak with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 win against Tennessee Tech’s 51st-ranked Eduardo Mena. Herrera’s lone loss of the month in singles action came against SoCon foe Connor Thompson of UNCG. In doubles play, the senior paired with Sergi Fonctuberta in the No. 2 doubles spot to win three straight matches and picked up his 100th career win with a 6-2 doubles win over UNCG’s Marcus Vidgren and Jack Burkill. Herrera’s other doubles win came with partner Tasei Miyamoto as they downed the duo from Marquette, 6-0.

Others nominated: Drew Singerman (Furman), Ollie Palmer (UNCG), Jake Faundez (Samford), Niklas Gerdes (Chattanooga) and Omar Williams (Wofford).

WOMEN’S TENNIS
Jordan Strickland, Western Carolina, So.
Western Carolina’s Jordan Strickland finished February a combined 9-1 in singles and doubles play and helped the Catamounts to a 3-2 mark in the month. Strickland finished the singles slate unblemished after moving from the No. 3 spot to the No. 2 spot, earning wins over North Carolina A&T’s Renata Ruiz Rabadan 6-1, 6-3 and Maru Berghaus of North Carolina Central 6-2, 6-3 on consecutive days. The sophomore picked up a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Kennesaw State’s Kennedy Craig and on Feb. 18, downed Presbyterian’s Samantha Calais 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Strickland rounded out the month with a 7-5, 6-2 win over USC Upstate’s Noelia Acuna. Along with partner Savannah Taranto, the Cary, North Carolina, native earned wins over North Carolina Central’s No. 1 pair 6-2 and Kennesaw State’s top duo, 6-4. Strickland and Taranto rounded out the month with wins at the No. 1 spot against Presbyterian (6-2) and USC Upstate (6-3).

Other nominated: Ioanna Markesini (ETSU), Georgie Walker (Furman), Sophia Adams (UNCG), Emma Van Hee (Chattanooga), and Jenna Vroman (Wofford).

WRESTLING
Randall Diabe, Appalachian State, Jr., 197 pounds
Sporting a 3-0 mark in February, Appalachian State’s Randall Diabe earned the No. 1 seed in the SoCon Championship, which took place March 3. The junior began the month with a 3-2 victory over Chattanooga’s 14th-ranked Scottie Boykin, helping the Mountaineers beat the Mocs 18-16 and earn at least a share of the SoCon regular-season title and earning SoCon Wrestler of the Week honors. Diabe next faced Duke’s Alec Schenk, defeating him 8-3. Diabe capped off the month with a 3-2 decision over The Citadel’s Sawyer Root to help the Mountaineers secure the outright regular-season SoCon title. The junior, who has an overall record of 19-7, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, where he, along with Boykin and Root, will represent the SoCon at 197 pounds.

Others nominated: Jere Heino (Campbell), John Muldoon (SIUE) and Bryce Carr (Chattanooga).

Southern Conference February Athletes of the Month
Baseball – player                                     Cesar Trejo, UNCG
Baseball – pitcher                                    Andrew Wantz, UNCG
Men’s basketball                                      Fletcher Magee, Wofford
Women’s basketball                                 Tianna Tarter, ETSU
Men’s indoor track and field – track          Emmanuel Tait, Samford
Men’s indoor track and field – field           Tray Oates, Samford
Women’s indoor track and field – track     Ty-Leah Hampton, Western Carolina
Women’s indoor track and field – field       Selena Popp, Samford
Men’s lacrosse – offense                           Eric Applegate, Jacksonville
Men’s lacrosse – defense                          Trent Harper, Air Force
Women’s lacrosse – offense                     Kaitlyn Wandelt, Detroit Mercy
Women’s lacrosse – defense                    Jocelyne Lemay, Central Michigan
Rifle – smallbore                                       Courtney Weekley, Georgia Southern
Rifle – air rifle                                            Rosemary Kramer, Georgia Southern
Softball – player                                        Marisa Sholtes, UNCG
Softball – pitcher                                       Emily DeMonte, Furman
Men’s tennis                                              Robert Herrera, ETSU
Women’s tennis                                        Jordan Strickland, Western Carolina
Wrestling                                                   Randall Diabe, Appalachian State

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