GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNC Greensboro softball’s Janelle Breneman was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year for the second-straight season, the league announced Tuesday. Additionally, senior pitcher Stephanie Bryden and freshman catcher Delaney Cumbie garnered selections to the All-SoCon First-Team, and redshirt senior first baseman Marisa Sholtes and freshman third baseman Gabi Howard earned spots on the second team. Howard, Cumbie and outfielder Kamryn Graves also earned selections to the all-freshman team.
Breneman becomes the first coach in school history to win the coaching award more than once from any conference. She led the Spartans to their third-straight, and second consecutive outright, SoCon Regular Season Championship with a 12-5 record in league play. The Spartans finished the regular season with the highest RPI ranking in the conference for the second-straight year at 77 as well. Challenging the team with a strong nonconference schedule (41st-toughest in the nation), the team turned in an overall record of 30-21 for the fifth season of at least 30 wins in Breneman’s seven-year tenure in Greensboro. The Coach of the Year award is the third in Breneman’s career after garnering the honor from the Patriot League while at Bucknell in 2004.
With a pair of players picked to the first and second teams respectively, Breneman has had 18 first team and 19 second team selections during her time at UNCG. The three all-freshman selections are also the most in a single-year in program history.
After garnering a second-team selection last year, Bryden turned in one of the best seasons by a Spartan pitcher for the first-team nod. She has recorded the third-most strikeouts in a single season in school history with 220 and has a chance to break the record of 262 by Christine Hornak (1997). She is also sixth for the most wins (22) in a single season. She leads the league in wins, strikeouts, opposing batting average (.214) and is second in strikeouts looking (43) and third in ERA (2.58). In the nation, Bryden ranks 20th in strikeouts, 21st in wins, 24th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.37), 43rd in strikeouts per seven innings (8.1) and 71st in walks allowed per seven innings (1.51).
Cumbie started in all but one of her 47 games played this season and placed among the best hitters in the league. She leads the SoCon in on-base percentage (.484) and is second in walks (31), tied for second in doubles (10), sixth in fielding percentage (.988) and slugging percentage (.577), tied for seventh in batting average (.333) and tied for ninth in runs (30). She turned up her performance a notch in conference play with a .508 on-base percentage and .617 slugging percentage. The catcher threw out 12 baserunners attempting to steal, second-most in the league.
Sholtes wraps up her career with her third-straight All-SoCon selection after being named to the first team twice the previous two years to become the seventh Spartan to be named to three all-conference teams. Despite missing seven games, she ranks in the SoCon tied for second in doubles (10), second in slugging percentage (.696) and homers (13), third in total bases (94) and fourth in RBI’s (37). In the nation she is 29th in homers per game (0.32). Her 13 homers are the sixth-most by a Spartan in a single-season.
Replacing a two-time all-conference first team selection (Gabi Cubbage) at third base, Howard stepped in the position and started all 51 games for the Spartans. Howard leads the league in walks (36) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.450), tied for sixth in homers (eight) and ninth in slugging percentage (.514). The freshman was the top hitter in the SoCon in league play. She led the league in batting average (.421), on-base percentage (.619) and walks (22) and was fourth in slugging percentage (.711). She has recorded the fourth-most walks in a season-season in school history with 36.
After a rash of injuries to the Spartans’ outfield this year, Graves stepped up to turn in a .306 batting average, .542 slugging percentage and four homers. Starting in 28 of her 40 games played in right field, she also recorded five doubles, 16 runs, 10 RBI’s and six walks. She has the fourth-highest batting average and slugging percentage on the team.
As the No. 1 seed in the SoCon Tournament with a first-round bye, UNCG opens up play against the winner of No. 4 Mercer-No. 5 ETSU Thursday at approximately 12:30 p.m.
-- UNCG –