SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After a record-breaking regular season, senior first baseman Katelyn Bedwell (Surrey, B.C./Elgin Park) was named Southern Conference Player of the Year, announced by the league office Tuesday.
Along with Bedwell, Lindsay Thomas (Irvine, Calif./Northwood) and Nicole Thomas (Irvine, Calif./Northwood) were first team All-Conference selections. Junior Dominique Madruga (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) also was named second team All-Conference.
“She is so very deserving of this Player of the Year honor,” said head coach Janelle Breneman. “KB will leave here in the record books as one of the top hitters ever to wear the Blue and Gold. She truly loves the game of Softball and thrives on competition as it shows in her play. I'm proud of her and have enjoyed the opportunity to have coached her for two seasons.”
The Spartans finished the regular season winning seven-straight conference games to claim the No. 5 seed in the SoCon tournament starting Wednesday, May 7. UNCG is 27-24 with a 10-11 conference mark looking for its second-straight 30-win season.
Bedwell becomes the fifth UNCG softball player to be selected Player of the Year and the first since Jennifer Hubbard in 2003. This is the fourth time Bedwell has been named to an All-Conference team and second-straight season named to the first team. The Surrey, British Columbia native broke the single-season school record for RBI with 64, which is the third-most total in SoCon history. Bedwell also tied UNCG’s home run record with 17 going into the SoCon tournament tied with teammate Lindsay Thomas who set the mark last season. Her .429 batting average also is a school record along with a .845 slugging percentage.
“Katelyn has had a deserving record setting senior season,” said Breneman. “Her hard work, natural ability, combined with her in the box hitting mentality has been fun to watch. KB has been a constant example for our younger hitters and is the most talented hitter I have ever had the privilege of coaching. She has also been a great asset for us in the infield handling first base.”
Lindsay Thomas was named first team All-Conference as a catcher after another solid season where she was second in the SoCon with a .380 batting average on 62 hits, 51 runs scored, SoCon leading 17 doubles, eight home runs and 40 RBI. Thomas won back-to-back Player of the Week awards and was a force all season during conference games. She led the team with a .469 average against league foes with seven doubles, six home runs and 24 RBI. This marks the second-straight season she had made first team All-Conference as a catcher.
“Lindsay has been rock solid for us behind the plate,” said Breneman. “She has saved many extra bases with her exceptional blocking ability. Lindsay has had a tremendous year, her ability to get on base has been key for our offense. She is a hitter that can move runners with her bat control and is a power threat to drive in runs.”
Nicole Thomas had a breakout sophomore season being named first team All-Conference at Utility. She finished third in the SoCon in batting average at .365 on 46 hits, 32 runs scored, six doubles, 13 home runs and 53 RBI. Her 53 runs batted in are second in the league behind teammate Bedwell and she tied a school record with three home runs in one game against Gardner-Webb. Thomas also holds the record for most RBI in a game with eight against Gardner-Webb. Thomas finished the conference season with seven home runs against league opponents and was a perfect 5-0 in the circle in 28 innings pitched.
“Helping the team in three different areas has been Nicole's role this season,” said Brenenman. “She has excelled and I am very glad she wass awarded this conference honor. Nicole is one of our top hitters and has had a productive run-producing year. Her versatility to play the outfield and her ability in the circle has helped our team tremendously. Nicole is a talented hard worker and I am certainly glad she wears Blue and Gold.”
Lastly, Madruga picks up her first All-Conference selection named to the second team at second base. Madruga set career highs in average (.336), hits (46), runs (38), doubles (8), home runs (2), RBI (17) and stolen bases (8-for-8). Since moving to the leadoff spot, Madruga has been the spark plug for the Spartan offense sporting a .473 on base percentage and has a career-high 76 assists at second base. The San Diego, Calif. native finished fourth on the team in batting average and was 10th in the SoCon with a .336 average.
“Dominique is having am exciting junior season,” said Brenenman. “Her dedication in the
off-season and her competitive fight throughout the spring has been fun to watch. She has fulfilled that leadoff role for us and jump-starts our potent offense. Dom has been a vocal leader for us in the dirt at second base and has helped our infield mesh together. I am thrilled for Dom to receive this honor as her attention to detail paid off and makes the Spartans better.”
The Blue and Gold will open the 2014 SoCon tournament against No. 4 seed Samford Wednesday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the UNCG Softball Stadium.
Be sure to follow all updates about the UNCG softball team on www.uncgspartans.com or on twitter @UNCGsports/@UNCGsoftball.
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