SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its April athletes of the month for baseball, men's and women's golf, men's lacrosse, men's and women's outdoor track and field, softball and men's and women's tennis Monday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina, R-Sr., OF
Western Carolina outfielder Bryson Bowman batted .432 and hit safely in 17 of the Catamounts' 18 April contests, counting five doubles, one triple and six home runs among his 32 hits in the month. Bowman, who slugged .770 and had an on-base percentage of .506, drew 11 walks, drove in 25 runs and scored 19 times to help WCU to a 12-6 overall mark and a 9-5 SoCon record. Bowman hit safely in Western Carolina's first 17 games of the month to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 27 games, which tied for the fifth-best mark in league history. His streak came to an end in his final game of the month, a rain-shortened game at Samford in which he went 0-for-3 to also end his streak of 42 consecutive games reaching base. Bowman totaled nine multi-hit games in April, including a stretch of six in a row, and had a pair of four-hit games, including his 4-for-5, four-run, seven-RBI game against Savannah State on April 25 in which he hit for the cycle, becoming the first player in the league to do so this season. Bowman flirted with another cycle just four days later, falling a triple shy in a 4-for-4 day against Samford. The redshirt senior from Baton, North Carolina, had five multi-RBI contests, including an April 19 contest at Gardner-Webb in which he hit two homers. He was named the SoCon Player of the Week on April 3.
Others nominated: Ben Peden (The Citadel), Chris Cook (ETSU), Carter Grote (Furman), JT Thomas (Mercer), Michael Goss (UNCG), Taylor Garris (Samford) and McClain Bradley (Wofford).
Robert Broom, Mercer, So., RHP
Mercer right-handed reliever Robert Broom was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in April, striking out 29 batters and walking just seven – one of them intentionally – in 22 innings over nine appearances to help the Bears to a 14-5 month and a two-week stint in the national rankings. The sophomore from Rising Fawn, Georgia, allowed only 16 hits, just two of which went for extra bases, putting together a 1.05 WHIP and a .205 opponents' batting average for the month. Broom earned wins over Furman, VMI and The Citadel in the month and pitched at least three innings four times. His longest outing came in the win over the Keydets, when he went 4 2/3 innings, striking out a career-high eight batters. He struck out five with no walks in the win over the Paladins and notched another five Ks in the win over the Bulldogs. Broom, who didn't allow an earned run over his final five outings, was the SoCon Pitcher of the Week on April 24 and was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year midseason watch list two days later. Broom, 7-1 on the year, is second in the SoCon with a 2.28 ERA and leads the league with a .181 opponents' batting average. His 12.45 strikeouts per nine innings are good for 12th nationally.
Others nominated: JP Sears (The Citadel), Ryan Simpler (ETSU), Will Gaddis (Furman), Jack Maynard (UNCG), Cody Shelton (Samford), B.J. Nobles (Western Carolina) and Austin Higginbotham (Wofford).
Jonathan Brightwell, UNCG, Fr.
UNCG freshman Jonathan Brightwell turned in a stroke average of 71.11 in April, 0.22 strokes under par, and posted a pair of top-10 finishes. He was a two-time SoCon Golfer of the Week in the month, earning the honor after tying for 19th with an even-par 213 at the Irish Creek Collegiate, which included six ranked teams and seven ranked individuals. He tied for seventh at the Wolfpack Spring Open, finishing at 4-under 209 after tying the school record with an 8-under 63 in round two. He then tied for first in regulation at the SoCon Championship before falling in a playoff for medalist honors, shooting a 2-over 218 for the tournament. Six of his nine April rounds were played at par or better, and each of his three finishes was a new career best. Brightwell, a Charlotte, North Carolina, native, was voted the SoCon Freshman of the Year, making him UNCG's second straight player to earn the rookie honor and fourth in the last five seasons.
Others nominated: Mateusz Gradecki (ETSU), Keller Harper (Furman), Justin Connelly (Mercer), Aaron Walker (Samford), Etienne Brault (Chattanooga), Dylan MacQueen (Western Carolina) and Andrew Novak (Wofford).
Loy Hee Ying, ETSU, So.
ETSU sophomore Loy Hee Ying earned her second consecutive monthly honor after turning in a trio of top-five finishes and posting a stroke average of 72.14 in seven April rounds. The Kulaijaya, Malaysia, native opened her month by helping the Bucs to the team win at the Web.com Intercollegiate, shooting a 2-over-par 146 to tie for fourth in the 90-player field. Loy then tied for medalist honors at the Brickyard Collegiate, firing rounds of 72, 73 and 4-under 68 for a 3-under 213 and her second win of the season. She closed her month with another fourth-place tie, shooting 2-over 146 in the weather-shortened SoCon Championship. She opened with a 3-under 69 and a share of first place before settling for her seventh top-five showing in 10 tries this academic year. Loy, who leads the league with a scoring average of 72.11, was voted the SoCon Player of the Year and earned an at-large berth to the postseason, claiming an individual spot in the upcoming NCAA Columbus (Ohio) Regional.
Others nominated: Cameron Little (The Citadel), Natalie Srinivasan (Furman), Lauren Lightfritz (Mercer), Emily Uhland (Samford), Monica San Juan (Chattanooga) and Natalia Villavicencio (Western Carolina).
Chris Walsch, Air Force, Jr., A
Air Force's Chris Walsch led the SoCon with 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists in leading the Falcons to a 4-1 record in April. The junior attackman notched a season-high eight points from five goals and three assists in Air Force's 20-2 win over Bellarmine, the Knights' most lopsided loss in program history. His fifth goal of the game marked his 100th career goal. He led Air Force to its fourth conference win with his seventh hat trick on the year and second of April in the Falcons' 14-4 win over VMI. Walsch notched a team-high four points against the NCAA's best scoring defense in Richmond. The Finksburg, Maryland, native scored the game-tying goal in the second period in the Falcons' crucial win over the Spiders. Walsch also registered a season team-high six assists in the Falcons' 16-11 win over High Point in the regular-season finale, helping Air Force secure the No. 1 seed in the SoCon Championship for the second straight year.
Others nominated: David Williamson (Furman), Eric Applegate (Jacksonville), Chris Rahill (Mercer) and Layne Collins (Richmond).
Brendan Hynes, Richmond, Sr., D
Richmond's Brendan Hynes led the Spiders to an overall record of 3-2, 3-1 in SoCon games, during the month of April. The senior defenseman led the nation with 18 caused turnovers for the month and is one of just two players in the country with three or more games with at least five caused turnovers. Hynes anchored a Spider defense that leads the nation in scoring defense, holding Spider opponents to just six goals per game. For the month of April, Hynes and the Richmond defense did not allow opponents to score double-digit goals and held ACC powerhouse Virginia to eight goals in the Spiders' first contest in April. Hynes, who currently ranks fourth in the SoCon in ground balls per game, scooped 20 ground balls, including seven in the Spiders' 12-9 win over Mercer on April 8. The Mahopac, New York, native also scored twice against the Bears.
Others nominated: Brandon Jones (Air Force), Alec Van de Bovenkamp (Furman), Hunter Forbes (Jacksonville) and Patrick deHueck (Mercer).
MEN'S OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Emmanuel Tait, Samford, Fr.
Samford's Emmanuel Tait's month of April was highlighted by his performances in the 110-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash at the South Alabama Invitational on April 15. The true freshman from Alabaster, Alabama, posted a SoCon-leading time of 14.24 in the 110-meter hurdles, earning a third-place finish in the event. In the 100-meter dash, Tait claimed first place with a time of 10.50 seconds, which is currently the third-best time in the conference this outdoor season. With his time of 10.50 seconds in the 100-meter dash, Tait shaved nearly half of second from his performance at the Tiger Track Classic the week prior to the South Alabama Invitational.
Others nominated: Ryan Adams (Furman) and Greg Henderson (VMI).
Scott Peretin, Western Carolina, Jr.
Western Carolina's Scott Peretin won the shot put at Western Carolina's Beynon Sports Catamount Classic with a best mark of 51 feet, 0.75 inches (15.56 meters). Peretin's throw is a career personal best and currently ranks third in the SoCon. Peretin, a junior for the Catamounts, was also the top collegiate finisher in the hammer throw with a best distance of 175 feet, 2 inches (53.39m), placing second overall. Additionally, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, native took third place at the Beynon Sports Catamount Classic in the discus throw with a best throw of 154 feet, 4 inches (47.01m), which is still good for fourth on the SoCon outdoor performance list.
Others nominated: Jaylan Reid (Furman).
WOMEN'S OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
Katrina Seymour, ETSU, Sr.
ETSU's Katrina Seymour earned four first-place finishes and two runner-up finishes during the month of April. The senior from New Providence, Bahamas, began by leading the Bucs' 4x100-meter relay team to a first-place finish at the 2017 Beynon Sports Surface Catamount Classic in Cullowhee, North Carolina, with a time of 46.01 seconds. That relay unit would then set the current SoCon fastest time in the 4x100-meter relay at the Georgia Tech Invitational the following weekend, placing second overall with a time of 45.38 seconds. While at Georgia Tech, Seymour also claimed the 400-meter hurdles title in 58.96 seconds, which at the time, was the fastest performance in the event. Seymour went on to shatter her time of 58.96 seconds the next weekend at the Western Carolina Track & Field Invitational after posting a new SoCon-leading time of 57.96 seconds. While at the Western Carolina Track & Field Invitational, Seymour finished first and second in the 400-meter dash (54.71) and as a member of the 4x400-meter relay team (3:49.78), respectively. Her time of 54.71 seconds in the 400-meter dash is currently the top time in the conference, while the Bucs' 4x400-meter relay time of 3:49.78 is the second-fastest SoCon time this season.
Others nominated: Jazmine Gooden (Western Carolina).
Hailey Cook, Western Carolina, Sr.
Western Carolina's Hailey Cook set two No. 1 SoCon marks at the Western Carolina Track & Field Invitational in the shot put (15.31 meters/50 feet, 2.75 inches) and in the hammer throw (52.00m, 170-7). The senior placed second in the shot put and fifth in hammer throw. Cook's heave in the shot put is also good for 39th on the NCAA East Regional performance list. The Hendersonville, North Carolina, native also placed second overall in the discus throw at the Catamount home meet with a best throw of 48.85 meters (143-10), which is currently good for second in the SoCon.
Marisa Sholtes, UNCG, R-So., 1B
UNCG's Marisa Sholtes returned from significant missed time due to injury to provide an immediate spark to the Spartan offense, posting a conference-best .432 batting average and a .757 slugging percentage for the month. The redshirt sophomore also achieved a .512 on-base percentage and was nearly perfect on defense with a .945 fielding percentage at first base with 100 putouts and four assists. Sholtes' signature performance of the month came in the Spartans' 9-3 win over Samford on April 14, when she went 3-for-3 at the plate with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Against Chattanooga on April 29, the Albany, New York, native posted a 2-for-3 performance with a home run, a walk, four RBIs and three runs scored in the 15-7 victory over the Mocs.
Others nominated: Danielle Knoetze (ETSU), Meghan Rud (Mercer), Abby Sweeney (Samford), Hayleigh Weissenbach (Chattanooga) and Hunter Gibbons (Western Carolina).
Lindsey Bert, Furman, Jr., LHP
Furman's Lindsey Bert garners her third consecutive SoCon Pitcher of the Month distinction this season after posting an 8-2 record in the circle and 1.57 ERA en route to leading Furman to a 13-4 overall record and 7-4 Southern Conference mark during the month of April. The Tallahassee, Florida, native allowed just 50 hits and 15 walks while fanning 85 batters in 67 innings of work. She tossed three shutouts during the month, including a two-hit blanking of Mercer that featured a career-high 12 strikeouts and a seven-hit shutout of UNCG. Bert finished the month with a 5-2 record against SoCon opposition to help Furman into a share of first place. The left-hander also claimed back-to-back SoCon Pitcher of the Week honors, on April 17 and 24, to close out the month.
Others nominated: Lindsey Fadnek (ETSU), Stella Preston (Mercer), Alicia Bazonski (UNCG) and Jessica Stone (Samford).
David Biosca, ETSU, Sr.
ETSU senior David Biosca went a perfect 9-0 in singles play and 9-0 in doubles competition during April as the Bucs claimed the Southern Conference's regular-season championship before winning the league tournament to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament. Eight of Biosca's singles wins came in straight sets and six of his doubles wins were by scores of 6-2 or better. The Sant Fruitos de Bage, Spain, native was named the Most Outstanding Player of the SoCon tournament, as he went 3-0 in singles matches at No. 1 and was a perfect 3-0 in doubles play at No. 2 with teammate Miguel Este. For his career, Biosca has now won 109 total matches at ETSU.
Others nominated: Adam Steryous (Furman), Reuben Vanoppen (Mercer), Connor Thompson (UNCG), Jake Faundez (Samford), Simon Bustamante (Chattanooga) and Haris Poric (Wofford).
Ansley Speaks, Furman, Sr.
Senior Ansley Speaks went 5-0 at No. 1 singles for the Furman women's tennis team in April and was 3-1 at No. 1 doubles with Aryn Greene as the Paladins captured both the league's regular-season and tournament crowns during April. The Paladins were a perfect 6-0 during April and Speaks, a Simpsonville, South Carolina, native, won four of her five singles matches in straight sets, going the distance against ETSU's Marina Guinart (7-6, 2-6, 6-0) in the title match of the Southern Conference tournament. Speaks and Greene dropped just one match during April, a 2-6 decision to ETSU's Guinart and Ioanna Markesini in the finals of the conference tournament. Speaks and Greene topped Guinart and Markesini (6-4) earlier in the month during the regular season.
Others nominated: Marina Guinart (ETSU), Haley Powell (Mercer), Sophia Adams (UNCG), Annika Hepp (Samford), Caroline Hall (Chattanooga) and Curran Carver (Wofford).
Southern Conference April Athletes of the Month
Baseball – player Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina
Baseball – pitcher Robert Broom, Mercer
Men's golf Jonathan Brightwell, UNCG
Women's golf Loy Hee Ying, ETSU
Men's lacrosse – offense Chris Walsch, Air Force
Men's lacrosse – defense Brendan Hynes, Richmond
Men's outdoor track & field – track Emmanuel Tait, Samford
Men's outdoor track & field – field Scott Peretin, Western Carolina
Women's outdoor track & field – track Katrina Seymour, ETSU
Women's outdoor track & field – field Hailey Cook, Western Carolina
Softball – player Marisa Sholtes, UNCG
Softball – pitcher Lindsey Bert, Furman
Men's tennis David Biosca, ETSU
Women's tennis Ansley Speaks, Furman