GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG softball coach Jennifer Herzig announced the 2011 team award winners on Wednesday.
Alex Emeterio took the award for Most Outstanding Offense for the second straight year. Aisha Figueroa was named Most Outstanding Defense, Cory Mattson was tabbed Most Outstanding Pitcher and 2011 graduate Kaitlin Merkt repeated as Most Valuable Player.
Emeterio hit a team-best .339 last season, banging out a team-high 58 hits en route to taking All-Southern Conference First Team honors for the second straight season. Now a senior, the Murrieta, Calif., had a team-leading .415 on-base percentage as a junior last season, drawing a team-high 20 walks and striking out just nine times on the year. Also a North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association All-State performer, Emeterio was second on the team with 29 runs scored and 10 doubles to go along with two triples and a home run. She was the SoCon Player of the Week on May 2.
Figueroa was a Southern Conference All-Freshman pick for the Spartans last season, when she hit .275 and started 56 games at third base. The Virginia Beach, Va., native committed just eight errors at the hot corner in 201 total chances, good for a .960 fielding percentage. Figueroa also had a hand in six double plays for the Spartans last season and her 131 assists were second-most on the squad. In addition to her solid work on the defensive side of the ball, Figueroa led the team with 21 steals and shared the team lead with 10 sacrifice bunts.
Mattson started her junior campaign with a bang, no-hitting No. 23 Florida State 1-0 in nine innings in UNCG's opening contest of the 2011 season. The no-hitter was UNCG's first in nearly six years and was the first in school history in extra innings or over a ranked opponent. Including a win over North Carolina later in the season, Mattson personally accounted for both of the Southern Conference's wins over Atlantic Coast Conference schools in 2011. The Everett, Wash., native set career highs with 14 wins and three saves last season, turning in a 4.04 ERA and striking out 106 batters, all team-bests. She capped her season by earning a spot on the Southern Conference Championship All-Tournament Team after starting all four of UNCG's games at the tournament and posting a 1.20 ERA.
Merkt capped her career by hitting a career-best .335 with nine homers and a career-high 39 RBI en route to earning All-SoCon Second Team honors for the second time in her career. In addition to leading the squad in home runs and RBI, the shortstop from Irvine, Calif., paced the Spartans in runs scored (32), sacrifice flies (six), total bases (92) and slugging percentage (.561). An NCCSIA All-State selection, Merkt knocked in the winning run in UNCG's 1-0 win over No. 23 Florida State last season. Her RBI single with two outs in the top of the ninth proved the difference as the Spartans no-hit the Seminoles and opened the season on a high note. Merkt finished her career third in school history with 32 career homers and fourth with 112 career RBI. She also finished in UNCG's career top 10 in slugging percentage (seventh, .496) and walks (eighth, 61).
The quartet helped the Spartans to a 26-32 overall record and a 10-14 mark in the SoCon. UNCG won a pair of games at the SoCon tournament for the school-record fifth straight season. Seeded sixth at the tournament, the Spartans fell just one win shy of reaching the tournament's title game for the second consecutive year.
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