AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference released its 14-member preseason softball All-Conference team from the league office in Augusta on Wednesday afternoon and North Georgia has three selections to the squad.
The Saints, picked to win the league for a third straight season, have three selections to the team, while Armstrong Atlantic had four, UNC Pembroke had two, and Georgia Southwestern, Augusta State, Francis Marion, and Flagler each had one honoree. The team size was increased to 13 due to a tie at outfielder.
Katherine Martin was the preseason selection at first base, while Sarah Phillips earned pitching honors, and Pilar Harden was one of four centerfielders picked for the Peach Belt Preseason All-Conference team.
As 2010 NFCA All-American, Katherine Martin posted a .375 batting average with 51 hits, 12 doubles, and five home runs. She proved to be one of the best defensive first baseman in the country with just four errors in 327 chances for a .988 fielding percentage. As a freshman, Martin drove in 25 runs, scored 36 more, and led North Georgia to 51 straight victories last season, the second most in NCAA softball history.
Back-to-back Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the year and two-time All-American Sarah Phillips returns for her senior season after posting a 44-2 mark last season with an earned run average of 1.00. She recorded 23 shutouts last year, pitched 41 complete games, and had 294 strikeouts in 300.0 innings of work. She claimed her second straight Southeast Region Pitcher of the Year award last season as she led North Georgia to 51 straight wins and their second consecutive trip to the World Series.
Pilar Harden, a First-Team Daktronics All-Region performer and NFCA Second-Team All-Region player, hit .313 with 41 hits, including six doubles and five home runs last season. She had 27 runs batted in and an on base percentage of .397, while recording a perfect fielding percentage in centerfield with 47 putouts and two assists.
Mike Davenport returns for his 11th season after accumulating 412 wins in his first 10 seasons. The two-time defending PBC Coach of the Year and Southeast Region Coach of the Year will look to guide his team to a third straight World Series appearance.
The Saints will open up the 2011 season on February 5-6 at the Aiken Early Bird tournament in Aiken, SC, where last year the Saints swept through the field with four straight wins. The following weekend, they hit the road again and travel to Columbus, Georgia, for a two-day tournament where they take on Ohio Valley, Lynn University, and West Alabama.
2011 Peach Belt Conference
Softball Preseason All-Conference Team
1b – Katherine Martin, North Georgia
2b – April Jowers, Armstrong Atlantic State
3b – Baillie Temples, Armstrong Atlantic State
SS – Holly Berry, UNC Pembroke
C – Ashley Buckett, Armstrong Atlantic State
OF – Gabby Buck, Georgia Southwestern
OF – Pilar Harden, North Georgia
OF – Kristen Jones, Augusta State
OF – Michelle Phillips, Francis Marion
P – Sarah Phillips, North Georgia
P – Kelly Riddick, Flagler
DP – Loren Bartz, UNC Pembroke
UT – Shelby Duff, Armstrong Atlantic State