Photo | University of Mobile
University of Mobile senior pitcher Karley Sanders was honored as first-team NAIA All-American.
It was quite a season for the University of Mobile’s softball team. After winning the Southern States Athletic Conference’s regular-season title, the Rams advanced to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ World Series for the 19th time.
Two tough losses kept UM from adding another national trophy, but the team did finish with an outstanding 46-15 record and a No. 8 ranking in the final NAIA poll.
Senior pitcher Karley Sanders was honored as first-team NAIA All-American. She was the SSAC Pitcher of the Year and earned a spot on the all-conference regular-season and all-tournament teams. Sanders made the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s second-team All-American squad and the first-team All-Region roster.
While compiling a 23-3 record, she led the NAIA in earned run average (0.89), and ranked second in opponent batting average (.152) and hits allowed per games (3.6).
“Karley has done an amazing job this year,” head coach Alison Cook told Lagniappe. “She stepped up to the plate for her team, doing what was needed in each game. She was a blessing to coach. She is truly a team player, who worked hard on the mound for her team. Her accolades were well deserving of her play.”
It was Cook’s first season at the helm for the Rams. Thanks to the team’s success, she was named SSAC Coach of the Year.
“This has been a great first year here at UM,” she said. “I have been blessed with a wonderful team and assistant coaches all working toward the same goals. Those accomplishments couldn’t be made without the support of the team and coaching staff. I look forward to continue the winning tradition of UM softball.”
Joining Sanders on the first-team all-SSAC roster were junior catcher Ashley Sprayberry, junior infielder Maddie Burchell, junior outfielder Emily Fleetwood and freshman infielder Payton Adams. Burchell was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year. On the second-team were sophomore pitcher Hope Cain, senior pitcher Sydney O’Connor, freshman outfielder Allison Vincent and sophomore outfielder Savannah Woodruff.
Named as Daktronics-NAIA Softball Scholar-Athletes were O’Connor, Sprayberry, senior Tyler Winkler and sophomore Kirstyn Torres.
Other college athletes recognized for their play:
• University of South Alabama softball players Devin Brown and Kaleigh Todd were both named first-team all-Sun Belt Conference. Haleigh Lowe was named to the league’s second-team.
• Brown became the fourth player to be drafted in program history, as the right-hander was the 20th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch draft. The Mobile native was 18-16 this season with a 2.03 earned-run average to go along with 231 strikeouts.
• Soon after, Todd was the 33rd overall pick by Moh-BEEL! USA in the inaugural American Softball Association draft. A third-team all-region by the NFCA, the senior infielder ended her career as South’s all-time career leader in hits (231), stolen bases (74), batting average (.374) and multi-hit games (63). The Moh-BEEL! USA team is playing its inaugural season at Satsuma High School.
• The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) named two Spring Hill College players to the 2018 all-conference second-team unit. Sophomore left fielder Sarah Johnson (.297) and freshman second baseman Delaney Thomas (.400) both earned spots on the roster. Thomas is a Baker High graduate.
• The SIAC awarded four SHC players postseason awards. Rob Ewald was named Relief Pitcher of the Year and junior catcher Brennan Fontenot was on the all-conference first-team. Junior Luke Wall and freshman Grayson Williams earned second-team recognition in the outfield. Ewald collected the second most saves in a single season after rolling up seven stops in 22.1 innings pitched. Fontenot hit .340 this year with 16 doubles, two triples and eight home runs for 43 RBIs. Wall hit .414 from the leadoff position. Williams, out of Mobile Christian, hit .375 in his first collegiate season with 14 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 40 RBIs.
• USA had several players taken in the Major League Baseball Draft. Junior outfielder Travis Swaggerty was selected in the first round (10th overall pick) by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference in walks (54), fifth in on-base percentage (.455), tied for fifth in home runs (13), tied for eighth in runs scored (57) and 10th in slugging percentage (.526). He batted .296 with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 38 RBIs, 57 runs scored and nine stolen bases in 57 games played this season.
Also drafted were junior third baseman Brendan Donovan in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals (213th overall), junior left fielder Dylan Hardy in the 13th round (400th overall) by the Boston Red Sox, right-handed pitcher Zach Greene in the 15th round (447th overall) by the Miami Marlins, right-hander Tyler Carr in the 31st round (917th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies and shortstop Drew LaBounty in the 40th round (1,196th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays.
• Catcher Carter Perkins and Swaggerty were each named 2018 first-team All-Central Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings. Hardy and Swaggerty were named first-team all-SBC, while Carr, Donovan and Perkins were named second-team. Donovan was named to the Sun Belt All-Tournament Team after batting .300 with one double, one triple, three RBIs, five runs scored and five walks.
• USA left-handed pitcher Zach Melton was named 2018 Google Cloud first-team Academic All-District by CoSIDA. The senior from Foley had a 3.94 GPA as a finance major. He was 2-3 with a 5.29 ERA.
• At the SSAC Awards Banquet, UM’s Christian Snow was named Newcomer of the Year. He was .401, while slugging .715 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs. Braxton Rhodes was named Pitcher of the Year. He was 10-2 with a 2.76 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 104.1 innings.
Both Snow and Rhodes were NAIA All-American Honorable Mention selections. The Rams finished second in the SSAC regular season, advanced to the NAIA playoffs and finished with a 42-17 record.
Joining them on the SSAC first-team unit was pitcher Cody Campo. Making second-team were catcher Cody Evans, shortstop Cody Cox, outfielder Corey Wheaton and designated hitter Kyle Friday.
Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes from UM were Norberto Torres, Logan Palmer and Wheaton.