BIRMINGHAM, Ala.–After leading the nation in home runs this past season, sophomore Taylor Bassett was voted the Southern Athletic Association Softball Player of the Year, as voted on by the league's head coaches.
Bassett and fellow sophomores Joanna Jernigan (outfield) and Alyssa Statham (designated player) were also voted to the All-SAA First Team, while sophomore pitcher Bethany Fronk earned Second-Team honors. Senior Brittany Berkopec (third base) was named Honorable Mention All-Conference.
Bassett, a shortstop from Orlando, Fla.,hit 17 home runs this season, the most in the nation, breaking the single-season BSC record. She'a also, as a sophomore, the career home runs leader for BSC with 24. Bassett also ranked second in the nation in walks with 48, and broke the NCAA single-game record with seven walks against Hendrix in the SAA Championship on April 26. She led the SAA in batting average (.459), on base percentage (.617), slugging percentage (1.000), runs (51), home runs (17), RBI (47), total bases (122), and walks (48).
Jernigan, a left fielder from Atlanta, Ga., was third on the team with a .324 batting average this season. She was fifth in the SAA with 13 stolen bases, and had a perfect fielding percentage with 68 putouts and two assists.
Statham, a designated player and infielder from New Market, Ala., led the conference with 20 doubles and ranked second with 59 hits and 45 RBI. She was third in the SAA with eight home runs and also ranked third in slugging percentage (.691). Statham was fifth in on-base percentage (.471) and 10th in batting average (.396).
Fronk, a right-hander from Clay, Ala., led the league in appearances (32), games started (29), wins (22), complete games (34), and strikeouts (137). She was also a force at the plate, hitting .322 with 48 hits including eight doubles and a triple. In the SAA Championship this past weekend, she threw six straight complete games–two on Friday, one on Saturday, and three on Sunday.
Berkopec, a third baseman from Mars, Pa., led the league in plate appearances (183) while hitting .286 with 48 hits (ranking her 10th in the SAA), six doubles, two triples, and one home run. She recorded 21 RBI and 28 runs, 12 stolen bases, and had a .944 fielding percentage.
The Panthers put together another successful season this year following last year's conference title and NCAA Regional appearance, going 28-18 overall and losing to a tough Millsaps squad in the final game of the SAA Championship on Sunday.