ROCK HILL, S.C. — Tusculum College head coach Julie Huebner was honored by the South Atlantic Conference as Coach of the Year in softball as the league unveiled its All-Conference teams and award winners on Wednesday.
The Pioneers, who won the firstever SAC championship in program history, placed three players on the All-Conference second team, as sophomore first baseman Kaytlin Stroinski, senior shortstop Lindsey Umberger and freshman outfielder Miranda Beeler were recognized by the conference’s 10 head coaches.
In her first season as head coach after two years as an assistant with the Pioneers, Huebner guided the Pioneers to a 30-17 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the SAC. The Pioneers won at least one game against each of the nine other teams in the conference, and closed the season by winning 24 of their last 30 games overall.
Needing two victories to secure the SAC title, Tusculum swept a doubleheader from first-place Anderson on Saturday by scores of 2-0 and 4-3 to earn the league crown and number-one seed in this week’s Food Lion SAC Tournament.
Stroinski, a first-team All-SAC selection as a utility player last season, led the Pioneers in batting average (.336), runs scored (35), runs batted in (40), slugging percentage (.540), on-base percentage (.440) and walks (19) while sharing the team lead with five home runs. Stroinski also added nine doubles and two triples and stole 11 bases, and had a .993 fielding percentage with just three errors in 405 chances at first base.
Umberger, who has started all but one game at shortstop over the past three years, played every inning in the field for the second year in a row. She hit .315 with 10 doubles, a team-high five triples and four home runs while driving in 27 runs. Umberger, who led the team with a .396 batting average in conference games, stole five bases without being caught and averaged just over four plays per game at shortstop.
Beeler started 31 out of 47 overall games in right field and 17 of 18 conference games, and hit .310 with 27 runs scored. Beeler was credited with 13 bunt hits and stole 16 bases without being caught. In right field, she did not commit an error in 28 defensive chances, including one assist. Beeler ranked second to Umberger in conference-only batting average at .389 and had a team-high 10 stolen bases in those 18 contests.
Carson-Newman shortstop Brittany Hefner was named SAC Player of the Year, while Catawba’s Carley Tysinger won both the Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards.
The Pioneers will play Lincoln Memorial in the opening round of the Food Lion SAC Tournament on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. The double-elimination tournament will continue through Sunday, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament.