SoCon announces March athletes of the month
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 04/06/2018
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Western Carolina's Henry Kiedy
Courtesy: Western Carolina Athletics

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its March athletes of the month for baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, softball and men’s and women’s tennis Friday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.

Trey Truitt, Mercer, Sr., OF
Propelling Mercer to the top of the SoCon standings, Trey Truitt batted .434 and slugged .803 with 33 hits, 27 runs, eight home runs, two doubles, a triple and 23 RBIs in 19 games for the Bears. Reaching base every game, the senior recorded a hit in 17 of 19 games and had two or more hits 13 times during the month of March. Named the SoCon Player of the Week on March 19, Truitt hit .588 with 14 RBIs, four home runs, eight runs scored and two stolen bases in four games. Playing outfield, the Dothan, Alabama, native totaled 39 putouts and had one assist with zero errors in the month. Truitt, who worked 15 walks and stole six bases, currently leads the SoCon in batting average (.435), slugging percentage (.774), on-base percentage (.529), runs scored (44) hits (50), home runs (10) and total bases (89).

Others nominated: William Kinney (The Citadel), Christian Bailey (ETSU), Andrew Moritz (UNCG), Brooks Carlson (Samford), Matt Pita (VMI), Justice Bigbie (Western Carolina) and Colin Davis (Wofford).

Robert Broom, Mercer, Jr., RHP
Appearing in seven games, Mercer reliever Robert Broom was a perfect 5-0 in March, allowing just four earned runs in 24 innings pitched. Hailing from Rising Fawn, Georgia, Broom racked up 34 strikeouts, fanning five or more batters four times. Broom opened his month with three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief against Holy Cross on March 5, striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced. His longest outing of the month came March 30, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings in a 5-3 win over ETSU, striking out five batters and allowing zero runs to help clinch the series with the win, his second straight in SoCon play. The right-hander currently ranks 13th in the country with an earned run average of 1.26, posting a 1.50 ERA in the month of March. Broom, a junior, is in the top five in the SoCon in batters struck out (54), opposing batting average (.206) and games in relief (15), tying for the league lead in wins with six.

Others nominated: Jordan Buster (The Citadel), Matt Frisbee (UNCG), Sam Strickland (Samford), Tristan Baker (Western Carolina) and Adam Scott (Wofford).

Bryce Hendrix, UNCG, Jr.
UNCG’s Bryce Hendrix turned in a stroke average of 71.17 in two March events, finishing five of his six rounds at par or better. The junior from Greenville, North Carolina, shot a 5-over-par 221 at the Tiger Invitational at Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Alabama, on March 4-6, bookending the tournament with matching even-par 72s. Hendrix followed that up with a 10-under 206 at the Linger Longer Invitational at Reynolds Plantation in Eatonton, Georgia, on March 18-20, tying for third in the tournament on the strength of rounds of 5-under 67, 1-under 71 and 4-under 68. Hendrix finished at least four strokes ahead of six top-100 players, including a pair of top-10 opponents, en route to earning SoCon Player of the Week honors for that performance. 

Others nominated: Shiso Go (ETSU), Keller Harper (Furman), Stanton Schorr (Mercer), Lake Johnson (Chattanooga), Dylan MacQueen (Western Carolina) and Ryan Marter (Wofford).

Reona Hirai, Furman, Sr.
Averaging a team-best 71.86 strokes per round during the month of March, Reona Hirai had two top-10 finishes in three tournaments for the Paladins. Helping lead No. 7 Furman to a sixth-place finish, the Summerville, South Carolina, native tied for 28th overall with a total score of 11-over-par 224 at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate on March 2-4. The senior followed up that performance with an impressive 2-over-par 212 to tie for fifth in the Sun Trust Women’s Gator Invitational on March 10-11. Hirai capped off March with her best outing of the month, posting a 5-under-par 211 to tie for 10th as Furman won the Clemson Invitational in dominating fashion on March 23-25.

Others nominated: Terese Romeo (Mercer), Tara Bettle (UNCG), Christina Perez (Chattanooga) and Nicole Chin (Wofford).

Asher Nolting, High Point, Fr., A
High Point attackman Asher Nolting scored a league-best 22 points in March, scoring nine goals and dishing off a SoCon-best 13 assists. The freshman from Greenwood Village, Colorado, helped the Panthers to a 2-2 record in the month, including a 2-1 start to SoCon play. Nolting scored at least five points in each contest, opening the month with three goals and two assists in a loss to Robert Morris on March 3 before scoring another hat trick and notching a season-high four assists in a 15-7 win over Bellarmine two weeks later. The rookie had two goals and three assists in High Point’s 15-12 loss at Richmond before closing his month with a goal and four assists in an 11-9 win over league-leading Jacksonville on March 31. For the season, Nolting leads the league with 41 points, 4.56 points per game, 21 assists and 2.33 assists per game. He has scored at least three points in all nine of High Point’s contests this year, a school record for consecutive games with at least three points, and with 20 goals on the year, has just the ninth 20-goal, 20-assist season in the league’s brief history.
Others nominated: Nick Hruby (Air Force), Jonah Moore (Furman), Pascal Coombs (Mercer) and Teddy Hatfield (Richmond).

Alec Van de Bovenkamp, Furman, So., GK
Furman goalkeeper Alec Van de Bovenkamp helped the Paladins to a 3-2 record in March, highlighted by a 3-0 league mark to sit atop the SoCon standings heading into the final month of the regular season. The sophomore from Hinsdale, Illinois, posted a 10.89 goals against average and a .562 save percentage, allowing 49 goals and making 63 saves (12.6 per game) against 182 shots faced. Van de Bovenkamp recorded double-digit saves in all five contests, starting with 12 in a 13-8 loss to No. 6 Denver. He followed that up with another dozen in just one half of play in a loss to No. 20 Penn State on March 6 before rattling off three straight wins to end the month. Van de Bovenkamp matched his career high with 16 saves in a 10-9 win over Richmond on March 17, the Paladins’ first over the Spiders in school history. He had 12 in an 11-7 win over VMI a week later and added 11 more in a 7-6 win at Mercer to finish the month. Van de Bovenkamp also tallied 3.2 ground balls per game in March, notching a career-high four against Denver before setting a new career best with six against Richmond. He collected two against Penn State and four against VMI for a total of 16 in March.

Others nominated: Braden Host (Air Force), John Hulsman (Bellarmine), Tim Troutner Jr. (High Point), Dixon Smith (Jacksonville) and Matt Hughes (Mercer).

Lindsey Zeltwanger, Mercer, Sr., MF
Helping the Bears go 4-3 in March, Lindsey Zeltwanger totaled 39 points, scoring 12 goals and dishing out 27 assists in seven games. The senior had one of the best games of her career against SoCon foe Detroit Mercy, scoring a season-high three goals and tying her season high of six assists, netting the game-winner in double overtime to clinch Mercer’s first-ever league victory. Picking up 12 ground balls and winning 26 draw controls, Zeltwanger had four games in which she scored two or more goals and five games in which she totaled three or more assists. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Zeltwanger leads the SoCon in points per game (4.70) and assists per game (3.0).

Others nominated: Kaitlyn Wandelt (Detroit Mercy), Abby Shields (Furman), Anna Schoonover (Mercer) and Hannah Mutch (Wofford).

Audrey Robertson, Mercer, Jr., MF
A junior midfielder, Mercer’s Audrey Robertson picked up 23 ground balls, won 15 draw controls and forced 14 turnovers in seven games for the Bears. Ranking 18th in the country, Robertson leads the SoCon in caused turnovers per game and is second in the league in ground balls per game with three. Registering a career-high seven ground balls and causing a season-high five turnovers against Winthrop, the Stuart, Florida, native was named SoCon Defensive Player of the Week on March 27. Robertson, who has won the award twice this season, picked up at least two ground balls per game and caused two or more turnovers in four of seven contests for the Bears.

Others nominated: Dominique Hamman (Central Michigan), Lauren Webley (Detroit Mercy) and JoJo Franklin (Wofford).

Henry Kiedy, Western Carolina, Sr.
Western Carolina’s Henry Kiedy competed in three meets in March. At the 49er Classic on March 16-17, Kiedy ran the first leg on the Catamounts’ 4x400-meter relay unit, helping the squad to a second-place finish in a SoCon-leading time of 3:11.24, and ran the anchor leg on WCU’s 4x100-meter relay team, which took ninth in 42.11 seconds. In the 100-meter dash, an event won by former Catamount and Olympic gold medalist Manteo Mitchell, Kiedy clocked an 11:04, good for the fifth-best time in the league this season. At the Weems Baskin Invitational a week later, the senior from Knightdale, North Carolina, helped Western Carolina’s 4x300-meter relay team to a second-place finish in 2:18.22, ran the opening leg in the 4x400-meter relay, and turned in a time of 49.39 in the 400-meter dash. Kiedy turned in some of his best performances of the month at the Terrier Relays in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on March 31, headlined by a win in the 400-meter dash in a SoCon-leading time of 47.92. He also took eighth in the 200-meter dash in 21.85, tied for the second-best mark in the league this season, and helped the 4x100-meter relay unit to a fifth-place finish in 42.09, also the second-best time in the SoCon.

Others nominated: Simeon Roberts (ETSU), Emmanuel Tait (Samford).

Ben Johnson, ETSU, R-Jr.
ETSU’s Ben Johnson set school records in three throws in March. He opened his month at the Weems Baskin Invitational on March 23, breaking his own school records in the hammer throw and the javelin to earn SoCon Field Athlete of the Week honors. The redshirt junior from Nashville, Tennessee, opened his outdoor season with a third-place finish in the javelin – an event won by former Citadel star Capers Williamson, an Olympic Trials finalist and two-time SoCon champion – adding more than a foot and a half to his school standard with a throw of 61.65 meters (202 feet, 3 inches). Later that day, he took seventh in the hammer with a mark of 57.42 meters (188 feet, 5 inches), tacking on more than a meter to his previous record. The next week at the Raleigh Relays, Johnson reset his record in the javelin, winning the event with a throw of 67.84 meters (222 feet, 7 inches), to shatter the mark he set a week prior by more than eight meters. He also broke his own school record in the discus at the meet, claiming third with a throw of 52.23 meters (171 feet, 4 inches), more than two meters better than his previous school standard. Johnson’s discus and javelin marks lead the SoCon by healthy margins, while his javelin throw is 25th on the NCAA Division I performance list.

Others nominated: Mateius Brown (Western Carolina).

Emma Grace Hurley, Furman, So.
In her only action of the month, Furman’s Emma Grace Hurley won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Raleigh Relays on March 30. The sophomore from Roswell, Georgia, cruised to a six-second win over the rest of the 43-woman field, turning in a time of 10:06.35 to take 36 seconds off her personal-best time and shave nearly seven seconds off the Furman school record. Hurley’s effort was good for the top time in the SoCon, the second-best time in the East Region and the sixth-best mark on the NCAA Division I performance list this season. She was named the SoCon Track Athlete of the Week for her performance.

Others nominated: Taylor Delaney (UNCG); Dasha Arnaut (Western Carolina).

Jaelyn Warren, Western Carolina, Fr.
Western Carolina’s Jaelyn Warren claimed a trio of top-two finishes in the high jump in March. The freshman from Waxhaw, North Carolina, opened her collegiate outdoor career at the 49er Classic on March 16-17, earning a runner-up finish in the 46-woman field in the high jump with a height of 1.73 meters (5 feet, 8 inches), the best mark in the SoCon this season. Warren followed that up with another second-place showing in the event at the Weems Baskin Invitational a week later, this time clearing 1.69 meters (5 feet, 6.5 inches) to claim the top collegiate finish. Warren closed her impressive debut month with a high jump win at the Terrier Relays on March 31, turning in a height of 1.70 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) to match the meet and facility records. The rookie also ran in the 100-meter hurdles at each of the meets, highlighted by a 10th-place finish at the Terrier Relays in 15.38 seconds, good for the 12th-best time in the league this season. Warren was named the SoCon Field Athlete of the Week after her performance at the Terrier Relays.

Brook Womack, Chattanooga, Sr., SS
Chattanooga’s Brook Womack finished the month of March with a .453 batting average after going 29-for-64 in the Mocs’ 23 games. The monthly award is the first for Chattanooga since February 2015. Womack recorded 10 multi-hit games, including a stretch of six straight games of two or more hits at the USF Invitational in Clearwater, Florida, during which Chattanooga went 5-1 and the senior racked up two home runs and 11 RBIs. Womack’s best game of the tournament came on March 16 against Quinnipiac, when the shortstop finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, one run scored and a home run. Womack started conference play with a solo home run against Mercer but was held without a hit in the second game of the doubleheader on March 24. The Chattanooga, Tennessee, native rebounded with hits in four consecutive games against SoCon foes Mercer and Samford. For the month, Womack finished with 29 hits, 21 RBIs, 15 runs and five home runs. Womack is currently tied for the lead in the conference with a .391 batting average and leads the league with a .477 on-base percentage while also ranking in the top 10 in total bases (56), RBIs (26), hits (36) and slugging percentage (.609).
Others nominated: Taylor Wright (ETSU), AnnaRose Borrelli (Furman), Megan Lane (Mercer), Makenna Matthijs (UNCG) and Madison Armstrong (Western Carolina).

Stephanie Bryden, UNCG, Jr., RHP
Behind a 1.33 ERA, UNCG’s Stephanie Bryden led the Spartans to a 17-4 mark, including a 6-0 record in conference play, in the month of March. Bryden finished with 75 strikeouts and allowed just 29 hits and 10 earned runs in 52 2/3 innings pitched, earning a perfect 8-0 record in 10 appearances. The monthly award is the first for UNCG since teammate Alicia Bazonski claimed the honor in March 2016. The junior, who hurled four complete games, started the month with a nine-inning 3-2 win over Jacksonville State, striking out 12. Following 2/3 innings pitched against No. 14 Georgia, Bryden had a perfect game broken up at Elon after six innings and recorded her second 12-strikeout effort in three games. The right-hander then struck out a career-high 15 and allowed no earned runs in an eight-inning win over Canisius on March 16. Bryden hurled six innings with eight strikeouts in a win over Furman and then fanned nine in six innings against Charlotte. The Orlando, Florida, native rounded out the month with a complete-game shutout against Western Carolina on March 30, tallying seven strikeouts, and notched six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work the next day as the Spartans completed their second SoCon sweep of the season. Bryden held opponents to a .158 batting average and averaged 9.97 strikeouts per seven innings. Bryden currently leads the conference in ERA (1.35), opposing batting average (.149), fewest runs allowed (20) and fewest earned runs allowed (23). On the offensive side, Bryden also helped herself with 15 RBIs as well as reaching base in all 14 games.

Others nominated: Madison Ogle (ETSU), Lindsey Bert (Furman), Jill McElderry (Mercer), McKenna Gillespie (Samford) and Haley Brogden (Western Carolina).

Jake Munns, Furman, Jr.
Furman’s Jake Munns combined to go 13-2 in singles and doubles action in the month of March. At flight two singles, Munns dropped his first match of the month 6-4, 7-5 to Loic Blanco of Stetson but rebounded with three straight wins, including a win over Sami Kirberg of NCAA Division II No. 14 Rollins, 6-1, 6-3. The junior’s only other loss for the month came at the hands of ETSU’s Juan Lugo 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Munns followed with a 7-6, 6-0 win over Chattanooga’s Simon Bustamante, UNCG’s Marcus Vidgren 6-4, 6-2 and Charlotte’s Benjamin Wayand 6-4, 6-1. At the No. 1 doubles spot, the Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, native paired with Cameron Green to go 7-0 in March. Along with nonconference wins over Stetson, No. 14 Rollins, Valparaiso, USC Upstate and Charlotte, Munns and Green downed SoCon opponents ETSU 6-2, Chattanooga 6-1 and UNCG 6-1.

Others nominated: Sergi Fontcuberta (ETSU), Sam Philp (Mercer), Connor Thompson (UNCG), Luke Plaisted (Chattanooga) and Omar Williams (Wofford).

Roos van der Zwaan, Samford, Sr.
Samford’s Roos van der Zwaan helped the Bulldogs to a 7-1 record and 4-0 mark in SoCon play during the month of March, compiling a 12-3 record at the No. 1 spots in singles and doubles play. The senior started the month with three straight singles wins against Eastern Kentucky, UT Martin and Murray State before suffering her only setback of the month, falling to College of Charleston’s Helena Nyikos 6-0, 6-4. Following the loss, van der Zwaan returned to her winning ways with four straight conference victories, beginning with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Mercer’s Katie Sidor on March 22. The Rijswijk, Netherlands, native won all seven singles matches in straight sets. In doubles action, van der Zwaan and partner Ellie Gerlach finished the month 5-2. Samford’s No. 1 pair started the month with a 6-2 win over Eastern Kentucky’s Alexandra Belle and Lisa Friess and then picked up another win over UT Martin’s top pair, 6-4. Gerlach and van der Zwaan’s only losses in the month came at the hands of College of Charleston and Mercer. Following the 7-5 loss to the Bears’ Katie Sidor and Grace Korta, the duo clinched three consecutive wins over Chattanooga, Western Carolina and UNCG, never dropping more than two points in the matches. Gerlach and van der Zwaan finished the month 3-1 in SoCon matches.

Other nominated: Ioanna Markesini (ETSU), Katarina Kozarov (Furman), Katie Sidor (Mercer), Brianna Gomez (UNCG), Caroline Hall (Chattanooga) and Jordan Strickland (Western Carolina).

Southern Conference March Athletes of the Month
Baseball – player                                            Trey Truitt, Mercer
Baseball – pitcher                                           Robert Broom, Mercer
Men’s golf                                                       Bryce Hendrix, UNCG
Women’s golf                                                  Reona Hirai, Furman
Men’s lacrosse – offense                                Asher Nolting, High Point
Men’s lacrosse – defense                               Alec Van de Bovenkamp, Furman
Women’s lacrosse – offense                           Lindsey Zeltwanger, Mercer
Women’s lacrosse – defense                          Audrey Robertson, Mercer
Men’s outdoor track and field – track              Henry Kiedy, Western Carolina
Men’s outdoor track and field – field                Ben Johnson, ETSU
Women’s outdoor track and field – track         Emma Grace Hurley, Furman
Women’s outdoor track and field – field          Jaelyn Warren, Western Carolina
Softball – player                                              Brook Womack, Chattanooga
Softball – pitcher                                             Stephanie Bryden, UNCG
Men’s tennis                                                    Jake Munns, Furman
Women’s tennis                                               Roos van der Zwaan, Samford

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