RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eight starters on this year's Meredith College softball squad earned recognition in Thursday's announcement of the USA South Conference end-of-season awards. Senior right fielder Erica Occena stands out as the team's USA South All-Conference first team honoree and was joined by senior first baseman Julia Allsbrook and junior catcher Rachel Peel as East Division first team picks.
Avenging Angels Brittany Bucklin, Kelsey Mabe, Maria Annunziata, Sarah Watson, and Taylor Jackson each earned an East Division second team selection, and Bucklin was named to softball's All-Sportsmanship team.
Occena ranks second in the league with a .429 overall batting average with 43 hits in 93 at-bats, third with a .528 on-base-percentage, and ninth with 13 stolen bases. She recorded just one error on the season in 48 attempts with 44 putouts and three assists.
Allsbrook ranked fourth among USA South players with 198 putouts, including 12 assists, and four double plays. She averaged .322 at the plate with 28 hits, including four doubles, one homer, and 15 RBI. In conference action Peel recorded a .440 hitting percentage with 13 hits, two doubles, and one home run. She caught six-of-nine stolen bases attempted and recorded 87 putouts with just two errors in 18 games played.
Bucklin finished the regular season strong to bat .293 on the season with 27 hits, four doubles, three homers, and 22 RBI. Her 53 assists rank in the top-25 among USA South players. Bucklin was also named to the league's softball All-Sportsmanship team. Mabe, the lone sophomore of the group, ranks 13th in the conference with 61 assists, turning five double plays on the season and 23rd hitting .379. Annunziata ranks in a five-way tie for first among conference batters with 13 doubles this season. She posted a .356 batting average with 28 RBI on the season, a team-best performance.
Watson ranked tied for 11th among USA South batters with a .400 hitting percentage this spring and good for second among the Angels. Her 46 hits tied for fourth in the league, including three doubles and 17 RBI, and her 29 runs scored topped Meredith's season efforts. Jackson ranked second in the conference pitching 125.1 innings this spring, including a second-best 25 complete games. Her 12 wins and two saves ranked third overall, and Jackson struck out 94 batters with a 2.63 earned run average.
The East Division's second-seed Avenging Angels host fifth-seed Ferrum Friday, April 6, in a 1 p.m. doubleheader to open the USA South Softball Tournament. Should a game three be necessary, the team's are slated to meet back at Meredith Saturday at Noon. The winner of the best-of-three series will travel to LaGrange, Georgia, next weekend for the Spring Festival, as the top-three highest seeds remaining from each division convene to battle for the championship. Follow the live action, including Bill Zeoli on the call, HERE.
NOTE: Admission will be charged for all tournament dates: $6 adults, $3 students/children.