2012 All-Americans: Higginbotham and Karagiorgis
SALEM, Va. -- There's always been one thing missing from Virginia Wesleyan College's highly successful softball program ... an All-American accolade.
Marlin teams have averaged nearly 25 wins per season in posting 28 winning seasons in 31 years, but the prestigious All-American award eluded VWC, until 2012.
For the first time in program history Virginia Wesleyan has not one, but two All-Americans, as selected by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). The awards cast a very promising light on the VWC program as both All-Americans are underclassmen, sophomore Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen, Va./J. R. Tucker) (left) and rookie Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods) (right).
Only 46 women nationwide were named to the All-America first, second, or third teams. Higginbotham and Karagiorgis were both named to the second team. Karagiorgis was one of just four rookies to earn All-America status their first intercollegiate season.
"Virginia Wesleyan has had many special players come through the softball program over the last 31 seasons and has had a tremendous amount of success without ever having an All-American," said VWC head coach, and two-time conference coach of the year Brandon Elliott. "These awards are certainly special in their own right for both KK and Tori, however, having two women represent our program in the same season on top of them both being underclassmen speaks volumes about the success we have had as a team. Coach Inzana (Jim), Coach Quinn (Jim) and myself are extremely blessed to be able to come to the ballpark every day and work with players like Tori and KK."
The All-America award caps a post-season filled with awards for both Marlins. Both Higginbotham and Karagiourgis were recently named to the NFCA's All-Atlantic Region first team. That award followed All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference honors for both Marlins, including Pitcher of the Year and Co-Rookie of the Year for Karagiorgis, a VWC first.
Higginbotham led the Marlins, and the ODAC, with a .465 batting average, the fourth best in VWC history and currently ranked No. 32 nationally. She recorded 142 at bats and led the Marlins, and the ODAC, with 66 hits, 56 runs scored, and 108 total bases. Her totals produced two new VWC records in hitting and runs scored as she broke the previous hit record of 63, set by Mandy Nixon in 2006, and the runs record of 54 set by Anna Bowers in 1991. Higginbotham's runs per game currently rank No. 4 nationally.
Higginbotham's totals included 13 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, 24 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 28 attempts. She led the ODAC in on base percentage (.537) and slugging percentage (.761), the latter ranking her No. 47 nationally.
Karagiorgis joined Higginbotham on the first team, after an impressive start to her intercollegiate career. She pitched in 117.1 innings and allowed just 25 earned runs en route to a 1.48 earned run average, ranked No. 42 nationally. She appeared in 26 games, started 20, pitching 13 complete games, and recorded four saves. She struck out an ODAC-leading 123 batters, the sixth highest total in Marlin history and second highest number by a rookie.
The talented rookie was more a double threat for the Marlins, as she could also hit consistently. Karagiorgis finished the season with a .382 batting average, the fourth best on the team, and led the ODAC with five triples and 48 RBI, the latter No. 29 in the nation. She connected for 47 hits overall, tying Higginbotham for the team lead in home runs with seven each.
Virginia Wesleyan finished the season with an impressive 17-1 record against ODAC opponents, including a sweep of NCAA tournament qualifier Roanoke College. The Marlins finished 30-12 overall, marking the program's second 30+ win season in three years, and seventh overall.