2017 USA South Softball Awards Announced

2017 USA South Softball Awards Announced

(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) - The USA South Athletic Conference has announced its 2017 All-Conference awards for softball. Averett University's Jessica Long collected Player of the Year accolades, while her teammate, Kaitlyn Aherron was named Rookie of the Year. Piedmont College's Melissa Eckman earned Pitcher of the Year while Salem College's Sydney Vaughn was named Rookie Pitcher of the Year. Rounding out the individual awards was Meredith College's Kim Scavone who earned Coach of the Year. Also, the USA South recognized an All-Sportsmanship Team, consisting of one member from each competing school.

All awards are voted on by the softball coach at each institution. The divisional team voting is completed only by those coaches in the particular division. The first team all-conference and individual award voting is completed by all coaches.

Long, a senior shortstop from Prospect Hill, North Carolina is the USA South Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. She adds these honors to her Rookie of the Year accolades from three seasons ago. Long becomes just the third player in Conference softball history to be named Player of the Year twice as well as Rookie of the Year. She currently leads the USA South in several offensive categories including runs scored (54), hits (61), triples (7), walks (23) and on-base percentage (.547). Additionally, Long's .459 batting average ranks third in the Conference. In USA South-only action, Long scored a League-best 28 runs. For her efforts this season, Long collects her fourth consecutive First Team All-Conference honor to go along with a First Team East Division accolade as a shortstop. Finally, she was named USA South Player of the Week twice this spring.

A sophomore pitcher from Perry, Georgia, Eckman adds Conference Pitcher of the Year to her Rookie Pitcher of the Year award from last year. She currently has posted a 13-5 record with a 1.86 ERA in 112.2 innings pitched. Eckman has tossed 14 complete games including a Conference-best seven shutouts. In Conference-only action, she leads the League with a 9-1 record and an ERA of 1.49 which is best in the Conference for pitchers who have more than six starts versus USA South competition. Eckman earns First Team All-Conference and First Team West Division honors as a pitcher for the first time after collecting All-Conference Honorable Mention accolades a season ago. Finally, Eckman was named USA South Pitcher of the Week once this season.

Aherron, a freshman utility player from Alton, Virginia becomes the second Cougar to earn USA South Rookie of the Year, joining her current teammate Jessica Long who captured the honor in 2014. Aherron is currently ranked in the top-six of 11 different Conference offensive categories including leading the League in RBI with 61. She has compiled a .395 batting average, a .474 on-base percentage and a .736 slugging percentage to go along with 28 runs scored, 13 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and 22 walks. In Conference-only action, Aherron led or was tied for the League-lead with an .851 slugging percentage, six home runs and 37 RBI. In addition to her offensive performance, she compiled a 9-8 record with one save and a 3.12 ERA in the circle as a pitcher. For her efforts, Aherron collected First Team All-Conference and First Team East Division honors as a utility player. Finally, she was named National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III National Player of the Week once in addition to USA South Pitcher of the Week once, Rookie of the Week twice and Rookie Pitcher of the Week once this spring.

A freshman pitcher from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Vaughn becomes the first Salem softball player to earn an individual USA South honor in the program's brief history in the League. She has posted a 9-2 record with one save in 15 appearances, seven starts, over 61.0 innings. She has compiled a 2.75 ERA with 32 strikeouts as opponents are hitting .273 against her. In USA South-only action, her ERA dipped to a 1.79 as she posted a 6-1 record. For her efforts this season, Vaughn earned First Team All-Conference and First Team West Division honors as a pitcher and was named USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Week once.

In her seventh season at Meredith, Scavone collects her second USA South Coach of the Year honor. Scavone has guided Meredith to a 26-14 overall record which included a 17-5 USA South mark, good for the Conference East Division championship. In the USA South Preseason Coaches Poll, the Avenging Angels were picked to finish third in the division. The regular season title is the program's first as members of the USA South while the 17 Conference wins set a program record for a single-season. Scavone now takes her squad into the USA South tournament as the East Division's top-seeded team.


Player of the Year Pitcher of the Year Rookie of the Year Rookie Pitcher of the Year Coach of the Year

Jessica Long

Melissa Eckman

Kaitlyn Aherron


Sydney Vaughn


Kim Scavone

The 2017 USA South Softball All-Conference Team:

First Team All-Conference
1B - Heather McLean, William Peace
2B - Sam Bird, Mary Baldwin
3B - Lindsey Wiggins, William Peace
SS - Jessica Long, Averett
C - Emily Barrs, LaGrange
DP - Haley Ervin, Meredith
Util - Kaitlyn Aherron, Averett
OF - Samantha Hall, Averett
OF - Samara Miller, Huntingdon
OF - Sarah Watson, Meredith
P - Melissa Eckman, Piedmont
P - Sydney Vaughn, Salem

First Team East Division Second Team East Division First Team West Division Second Team West Division

1B - Heather McLean, William Peace
2B - Sam Bird, Mary Baldwin
3B - Lindsey Wiggins, William Peace
SS - Jessica Long, Averett
C - Kaylee Johnson, Greensboro
DP - Haley Ervin, Meredith
Util - Kaitlyn Aherron, Averett
OF - Madison Crisco, Greensboro

OF - Samantha Hall, Averett
OF - Sarah Watson, Meredith
P - Taylor Jackson, Meredith

P - Maddy Wetherholt, Greensboro

1B - Alicia Burns, N.C. Wesleyan
2B - Kali Puckett, Greensboro
3B - Hayley Rumley, Greensboro
SS - Jordan Criswell, William Peace
C - Jordan Hamlett, Ferrum
DP - Cassie Collins, Greensboro
Util - Ashton Lambeth, Ferrum
OF - Taylor Hodges, Averett

OF - Bailey Oakes, Ferrum
OF - Erica Occena, Meredith
P - Shelby Godwin, N.C. Wesleyan

P - Courtney Rudd, Ferrum
1B - Briana Crumley, Salem
2B - Allyson Gentry, Piedmont
3B - Jordan Brett, Covenant
SS - Jennifer Vitarelli, Salem
C - Emily Barrs, LaGrange
DP - Brianna Morris, Salem
Util - Katelin Richardson, LaGrange
OF - McKenzie Brunel, LaGrange

OF - Samara Miller, Huntingdon
OF - Hannah Ogle, Salem
P - Melissa Eckman, Piedmont
P - Sydney Vaughn, Salem
1B - Hannah Hoban, Piedmont
3B - Morgan Brewer, Maryville
SS - Audrey Esakoff, Piedmont
C - Alexus Murray, Maryville
DP - Madyson Gibbins, Covenant
OF - Ashton Hayden, Maryville
OF - Breanna Herman, Salem 

OF - Jenna Roberts, Maryville
P - Lauryn Smith, Salem
P - Sarah Walker, Piedmont
(Note: Only one nominee,
thus no 2B or Util)  


Katie Bender, Agnes Scott
Taylor Hodges, Averett
Hannah Talley, Covenant
Marieka Pierce, Ferrum
Kaylee Johnson, Greensboro
Samara Miller, Huntingdon
Adrienne Little, LaGrange
Dana Cromer, Mary Baldwin
Jessica McMahan, Maryville
Charley Cox, Meredith
Savannah Dunn, Methodist
Abigail Leonard, N.C. Wesleyan
Rayven Lawrence, Piedmont
Katie Bilbrey, Salem
Quanetria "MJ" Jackson, Wesleyan
Katelyn McLamb, William Peace

Be sure to follow the USA South (#USASouth) on the following social media platforms: Twitter  Instagram  YouTube   Facebook