Three named Preseason All-SoCon, Spartans picked fourth in softball poll
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Alex Emeterio, Kaitlin Merkt and Eileen Horsmon were selected to the Preseason All-Southern Conference First Team and UNCG was picked fourth in the preseason poll in a vote of the nine SoCon head coaches, the league office announced Tuesday.
Coach Jennifer Herzig's Spartans, runners-up in last season's SoCon Championship, picked up 39 points in the poll, six points ahead of Appalachian State and seven behind Georgia Southern. Elon, which topped UNCG in the SoCon title game, was the preseason pick to win the league, grabbing 61 points to edge Chattanooga, which received 59 points.
Emeterio was a Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Mideast Region and first-team All-SoCon pick last season, when she hit .382 with five home runs and 32 RBI. She led UNCG in average, runs (31), hits (66), total bases (96), slugging percentage (.555), walks (24), on-base percentage (.468) and multi-hit games (19). The junior first baseman from Murrieta, Calif., earned a spot on the SoCon All-Tournament Team and was a North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association All-State selection.
Merkt, a redshirt senior shortstop, hit .268 with career highs in doubles (10), home runs (11), RBI (38), runs (23) and walks (19) last season en route to earning NCCSIA All-State honors. After a slow start to the season, the Irvine, Calif., native hit .355 with all of her homers and all but two of her RBI in UNCG's final 35 games. An All-SoCon Second Team selection in 2009, Merkt took the final SoCon Player of the Week honor of the 2010 season after a three-game series in which she hit three home runs.
Emeterio and Merkt were also Preseason All-SoCon selections prior to last season.
Horsmon had a phenomenal freshman campaign last season, earning second-team All-SoCon and All-Freshman honors. The designated player from Dunkirk, Md., hit .326 with six doubles, a triple, six home runs, 23 runs and 21 RBI. Horsmon hit .429 in four SoCon Championship games, including a grand slam over top-seeded Chattanooga, en route to being named to the SoCon All-Tournament Team. Horsmon was also an NCCSIA All-State selection.
UNCG's three first-team selections were second in the league only to Elon, which placed four student-athletes on the first team.
Georgia Southern's Megen Smith and Brianna Streetmon were named the league's preseason player and pitcher of the year, respectively.
UNCG opens its 2011 campaign this weekend at the Seminole Kick Off Classic in Tallahassee, Fla. The Spartans will face host Florida State and Hofstra on Friday.
Preseason Southern Conference Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Points
1. Elon (5) 61
2. Chattanooga (4) 59
3. Georgia Southern 46
4. UNCG 39
5. Appalachian State 33
6. College of Charleston 32
7. Furman 24
8. Samford 21
9. Western Carolina 9
Preseason Player of the Year
Megen Smith, Utility, Georgia Southern
Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Brianna Streetmon, Georgia Southern
Preseason First-Team All-Conference
P Kandice Irwin, Chattanooga
P Brianna Streetmon, Georgia Southern
C Kaitlyn Piazzolla, Elon
1B Alex Emeterio, UNCG
2B Jackie Gonzalez, Elon
SS Kaitlin Merkt, UNCG
3B Katie Boyd, Appalachian State
OF Emerald Graham, Elon
OF Lyndsey Stiles, Chattanooga
OF Tomeka Watson, Elon
DP Eileen Horsmon, UNCG
UT Megen Smith, Georgia Southern
Preseason Second-Team All-Conference
P Erin O'Shea, Elon
P Caitlin Wainright, Appalachian State
C Michelle Lighton, Appalachian State
1B Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
2B McKenzie Phillips, Appalachian State
SS Danielle Lafferty, Elon
3B Tiffany Baker, Chattanooga
OF Stephanie Field, Furman
OF Katie Michaels, Furman
OF Sarah Rappe, Appalachian State
DP Erin O'Shea, Elon
UT Kasey Tydingco, Chattanooga
- UNCG -