From left: Amber DePasquale, Keely McMillon, Kelly Strickland, Kaylee West, Katrina Johnson, Ashley Bensinger.
Kelly Strickland was named the Big South Co-Player of the Year, and three Liberty seniors won their first career all-conference honors, Wednesday evening, at the conference banquet on the eve of the 2011 Big South Softball Championship. Strickland, a junior second baseman, was named Co-Player of the Year along with Radford second baseman Nichole Beall. She becomes the fourth player in Liberty history to win the award, and the first since Liberty assistant coach Jessica Moore took the honor in 2005 and 2007. Strickland tops the Big South with 15 home runs and ranks No. 1 in the league with 38 runs scored. She is currently tied for first in the conference with 44 RBIs and sits at No. 2 with a slugging percentage of .671. The Tabor City, N.C. native has posted 17 multi-hit games this season and recorded 11 contests with multiple RBIs, including back-to-back, six-RBI games against Hampton and Norfolk State. She posted a team-high 14-game hitting streak and her .342 average at the dish is good for No. 4 in the Big South Conference. Seniors Ashley Bensinger and Keely McMillon were both named to the Big South all-conference first team, while fellow senior Amber DePasquale earned second team honors. Also named to the all-conference second team was junior first baseman Kaylee West, marking her first career all-conference honor as well. Sophomore Katrina Johnson, who was named the 2010 Co-Freshman of the Year, picked up second team all-conference honors. The molecular biology major was also named to this year's Big South All-Academic team. Radford's Jackie Jenkins was named the Pitcher of the Year, while Gardner-Webb's Samantha Meenaghan was tabbed the Freshman of the Year and the Highlanders' Chelsea Kelly was honored as Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Mickey Dean of Radford was voted the 2011 Big South Coach of the Year, winning the honor for the third straight year. The tournament begins tomorrow at 10 a.m., and No. 2 seed Liberty will face No. 7 seed Winthrop at 12:30 p.m. in its opening contest.
2011 Big South Conference Softball Award Winners
First-Team All-Conference OF: Tera Powell, Presbyterian College OF: Melinda Dulkowski, Gardner-Webb OF: Codee Yeske, Presbyterian College 1B: Morgan Baker, Gardner-Webb 2B: Nichole Beall, Radford SS: Megan Lombard, Charleston Southern 3B: Ashley Bensinger, Liberty C: Keely McMillon, Liberty DP: Chelsey Schoenfeldt, Winthrop UT: Samantha Meegnahan, Gardner-Webb P: Jackie Jenkins, Radford P: Leslie Hensley, Presbyterian College
Second Team All-Conference OF: Jana Matthews, Charleston Southern OF: Amber DePasquale, Liberty OF: Veronica Berrie, Winthrop 1B: Kaylee West, Liberty (tie) Kathryn Eberlin, Winthrop (tie) 2B: Kelly Strickland, Liberty SS: Megan Chapman, Winthrop 3B: Jessica Brock, Charleston Southern C: Erin Kegley, Charleston Southern (tie) Chelsea Pineda, Coastal Carolina (tie) DP: Stephanie Sbardella, Charleston Southern UT: Taylor Cunningham, Radford P: Katrina Johnson, Liberty P: Stephanie Dameron, Radford
All-Academic Team Erin Kegley, Charleston Southern Sarah Maples, Coastal Carolina Jane Savage, Gardner-Webb Katrina Johnson, Liberty Leslie Hensley, Presbyterian College Chelsea Kelley, Radford Kelly Blea, Winthrop
Co-Players of the Year Kelly Strickland, Liberty Nichole Beall, Radford
Pitcher of the Year Jackie Jenkins, Radford
Freshman of the Year Samantha Meenaghan, Gardner-Webb
Scholar-Athlete of the Year Chelsea Kelley, Radford
Coach of the Year Mickey Dean, Radford
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