TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011
Softball earns seven A-Sun all-conference honors
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Being the top team in the league certainly has some perks as head coach Amanda Lehotak voted the unanimous “Coach of the Year” while junior Sarah Sigrest earned “Pitcher of Year” honors to headline the JU softball team’s seven A-Sun all-conference selections on Tuesday afternoon.

Sigrest also received first team all-conference honors along with junior Amanda Schmidt and sophomores Sarah Simon and Olivia Kline. Senior Katie Kelly picked up second team all-conference accolades, while freshman Jacey Warner was named to the all-freshman squad to round out the group.

The seven honors for the Dolphins (40-14, 18-2 A-sun) passes the program record of five from last season.

“I’m very happy for my kids because they deserve it,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “They have worked hard all year and it’s nice to be rewarded for it. I’m honored and humbled that my colleagues in our league voted for all of our kids. It’s exciting because they did everything that was asked of them and it’s just sweeter in the end.”

Lehotak and her staff have enjoyed a banner year by setting the new program highs in wins (40) and home wins (22) to secure the school’s first regular season title. They won 24 of their final 26 contests, including a program-best 12-game winning streak. JU upset No. 22 Texas A&M, while also beating 2010 NCAA Tournament participants Jacksonville State and Florida A&M along with way. The Dolphins swept cross-town rival UNF for the first time in program history to lock up the title last week.

The coaches have also helped the Dolphins post the fourth-best ERA nationally (1.33), while getting them to produce the second-highest batting average all-time at .279. They hit .323 and recorded a 1.07 ERA during A-Sun play.

Sigrest earned the program’s first “Pitcher of the Year” honors after posting career-best 23-5 mark with 185 strikeouts and a 1.01 ERA in 194.1 innings of work. Her ERA ranks 11th nationally, while she has struck out five or more batters 18 times.

In A-Sun play, Sigrest was even better - recording a 12-1 record with 76 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA in 80.1 innings. She suffered her lone loss to Lipscomb on April 8, but finished the year with a flawless 9-0 mark and a 0.39 ERA, while striking out 62 batters in 54 innings of work.

Simon received first team all-conference honors by leading the Dolphins in average (.371), triples (3), home runs (8), walks (41) and on-base percentage (.514). She finished second in doubles (10) and RBI (38). Simon hit .490 (25-51) with four homers & 18 RBI in A-Sun play. She combined for the cycle in two games at Belmont, while getting a homer in four total hits during the twin bill in the regular-season finale against Stetson.

Kline and Schmidt found their way onto the all-conference team with what they did in the final 20 games of the season. Since March 29th, Kline has hit .415 at the plate en route to a .317 average to rank second on the squad. She also tallied six wins in the circle for a career-best 15-6 record.

Schmidt drove in 26 of her team-best 41 RBI during the same stretch and leads the team with 11 doubles. She has done most of her damage after moving to the two spot in the lineup, hitting .333 (45-123) with nine doubles and 34 RBI in 35 contests.

Kelly, who earned postseason honors for the third time, ranks second on the team with a career-best seven home runs and third in doubles (9) and RBI (26). She hit .426 (26-61) in A-Sun play with 12 RBI and three doubles. She also had four home runs, including a walk-off in her final at-bat at the JU Softball Complex against Stetson. Kelly will also leave her mark in the JU record book after breaking the career marks for hits, doubles, RBI, runs & total bases this season.

Warner led all JU freshmen with 17 RBI to get her first honors. She finished with four hits in two games against Mercer (3/25) and had a season-high three hits in the game two win at USC Upstate (4/2). Warner also had a base-clearing double in the first inning at FAMU (4/13) and recorded an RBI hit vs. FGCU (4/18).

The No. 1 seed Dolphins start the A-Sun Tournament on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C. against the winner of the Campbell/Mercer matchup. Fans can follow all of the tournament games on live video streaming through A-Sun.tv and the JU contests on live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.