FLORENCE, SC – On the eve of the 2011 PBC Tournament, the 3rd-ranked North Georgia softball team was front and center Thursday evening at the Peach Belt Conference awards show, bringing home 10 combined awards.
As the three-time defending regular season champions, the Saints were well honored as North Georgia picked up five First-Team All-Conference honors and two Second-Team honors. Jessica Coan was named First-Team All-PBC and was named the league's Pitcher of the year.
Joining Coan with First-Team honors was Hilary Cox at third base, Kasey Knight at shortstop, Sara Phillips at pitcher, and Katherine Martin at first base. Earning Second-Team All-conference honors was a pair of outfielders, as Pilar Harden and freshman Ansley Williams were named to the team.
Mike Davenport was also recognized the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year for the third straight season, as he looks to guide his team to a third consecutive PBC Tournament Championship this weekend. In his 11th season at the helm of the Saints, Davenport has an overall record of 455-146, including a 43-9 mark this season as North Georgia is ranked No. 3 in the country.
North Georgia was awarded the program's third-straight Peach Belt regular season Championship at the banquet, as all 15 members were awarded individual plaques and the team was given the 2011 PBC Championship Trophy. The Saints have been ranked in the nation's top five all season long, and are currently leading the country in victories with 43.
On her way to being named First-Team All-Conference and the PBC Pitcher of the Year, Jessica Coan has been unhittable all year long, posting a 22-4 record with 274 strikeouts in only 175.1 innings of work. She has put together a 0.76 earned run average, allowing just 19 earned runs on the season, while giving up just 20 extra base hits in 30 appearances. With 21 complete games, the junior leads the Peach Belt Conference in wins with 22, strikeouts with 274, earned run average at 0.76, and innings pitched with 175.1. In 15 of her 25 starts, Coan has posted double-digit strikeouts, including a 19-strikeout performance against 15th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne, a mark that put her in the NCAA record books for the second-most strikeouts in a 7-inning game. The junior transfer did not allow more than two earned runs in a single Peach Belt Conference game, as she recorded five complete-game shutouts in league play.
As one of the premier power hitters in the league, Hilary Cox returns as a First-Team Peach Belt All-Conference performer, leading the Peach Belt Conference with 12 home runs during the 2011 season. She was second in the league with 44 runs batted in, as she put together a 10-game hitting streak during the year, while stringing together 13 games with multiple hits. She drove in multiple runs in 10 different games, while recording three or more RBI's in seven games. She had a .434 on base percentage and .677 slugging percentage to lead the Saints to a top five ranking in every poll of the season.
Known as one of the best defensive players in the league, Kasey Knight was named First-Team All-Conference, hitting .385 with 69 hits, including three doubles and one triple. She is second in the Peach Belt Conference in hits with 69 and runs scored with 43, as she had multiple hits in 21 games and put together a nine-game hitting streak during the year. Knight made just five errors at shortstop in 135 chances for a .963 fielding percentage.
Former All-American and now First-Team All-Conference member Katherine Martin put together another stellar campaign, as the sophomore was errorless in 337 chances at first base, while hitting .344 with 11 doubles and 26 runs batted in. She drove in five runs against Chowan University in the opening weekend of the season, while driving in runs in five straight Peach Belt Conference games late in the year. She has three home runs and six stolen bases on the year, while walking nine times.
Picking up First-Team All-Conference honors for the third straight year, Sarah Phillips entered the 2011 season as the PBC's all-time leader in wins and continued to extend her record, posting a 17-4 record with an earned run average of 1.51. She recorded 101 strikeouts in 120.1 innings of work, and tossed 12 complete games and four shutouts. She went the distance in a complete-game shutout of 22nd-ranked Armstrong Atlantic on April 9, as the she blanked the Pirates with three strikeouts. After tossing a no-hitter against Francis Marion in the regular season finale, Phillips was awarded PBC pitcher of the week during the week of April 13.
Earning her second All-Conference honors in three years, Pilar Harden has played and started in all 52 games for the Saints this season, hitting .306 with five home runs, 29 runs batted in and 31 runs scored. She had two home runs with four runs batted in against UNC Pembroke on March 29, as three of her four long balls on the year have come in league play. The junior has two assists from centerfield, and has put together 12 multiple hits games during the season.
As one of the most electrifying leadoff hitters in the league, Ansley Williams was named Second-Team All-Conference as she hit .343 with 10 doubles, 10 home runs, and 35 runs batted in. A two-time PBC Freshman of the Week, Williams was the only player in the Peach Belt to have 10 home runs and 10 doubles, as she led the league in runs scored with 54 and total bases with 101. She had an eight-game hitting streak during the season and drove in multiple runs eight different times. Williams had 17 games with multiple hits, and she had three straight games of multiple RBI's on three different occasions. She has an on base percentage of .413 and slugging percentage of .586.
The Saints and their seven All-Conference players open the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Friday morning, taking on 8th-seeded UNC Pembroke at 11:00 a.m. North Georgia is the top seed for the third straight year and have won eight straight PBC Tournament games dating back to the opening round of the 2009 tournament.