VIRGINIA BEACH -- Three of the Virginia Sports Information Directors' major All-Virginia post-season awards belong to Virginia Wesleyan College's Marlins.
Head Coach Brandon Elliott has been named the College Division Coach of the Year, rising senior Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker) has been named the Player of the Year and rising senior MacKenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) has been selected as the Pitcher of the Year. While Elliott is the first VWC coach to receive the softball honor, Creech is the first Marlin pitcher to receive the award. Higginbotham's award is her second in a row, marking her as the first two-time winner since Lynchburg College's Caroline Cubbage in 2006 and 2007.
In addition to the major awards, Higginbotham and Creech were named All-Virginia first team, along with teammate Kelly Keys (Manassas/Osbourn Park). Higginbotham is an outfielder and Keys is a second baseman. VWC also had a second team honoree as rising senior Lindsey Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield) picked up the award as a designated player/utility player.
All four all-state honorees were key contributors to VWC's historic 41-8 finish in 2013, setting the program record for most victories in a season. The Marlins won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship and finished as the runners-up in the Montclair, N.J. regional.
Higginbotham, a 2013 first team All-American, led the Marlins with a .470 batting average, her best ever and the third best single-season mark in program history. She led the Old ODAC with 70 hits, a VWC record topping the previous mark of 66 hits she set last season. She also tied the Marlins' home run record with 13, ranking her No. 9 nationally, and she is now VWC's all-time home run leader with 24. That passes the previous record of 23 established by Kelly Lupton from 1998 through 2001.
Higginbotham finished the season as the ODAC leader in runs scored (62), total bases (126) and stolen bases (47 of 51). Her runs scored topped the VWC record of 56 she set in 2012 and her stolen bases wiped out the previous Marlin mark of 34 steals in 36 attempts set by Anna Bowers in 1992. Higginbotham ranks No. 2 nationally in stolen bases.
In addition to all of the records, Higginbotham also ranked second for the Marlins in runs batted in with 39. In the outfield she recorded 65 putouts and posted a 100% fielding mark.
Creech, the ODAC Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-region honoree, finished the season with a career-best 23-4 record in the pitching circle. She produced a 1.33 earned run average and 138 strikeouts. Creech's ERA is the second best in VWC history, her career strikeout total of 366 is fourth, and her 23 wins rank fifth. She is fourth in career wins with 52.
Keys, a two-time All-Virginia honoree, and Inzana, a first-time honoree, were also both second team all-region players, marking a consecutive second team honor for Keys. She ranked third for the Marlins in hitting with a .387 batting average, third in home runs (4), third in RBIs (30) and third in stolen bases (8). Inzana finished the season ranked fifth in batting average with a .341 mark, but led the Marlins with 50 RBI, the later the second highest total in VWC history. Inzana also ranked second in homers (8). She also made five appearances in the pitching circle and finished with a 3-0 record and a 2.80 ERA. She struck out 10 batters in 15 innings pitched.
Elliott finished his sixth season as the head coach where he has guided the Marlin program back to national prominence. Virginia Wesleyan finished the season ranked No. 11 nationally, its highest ranking ever. The Marlins also finished No. 4 in a very tough Atlantic Region.
The ODAC Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Elliott has now guided VWC to league championships in 2011 and 2013, and to an overall record of 192-75 and an ODAC mark of 83-31. He ranks second in victories among the program's all-time seven head coaches.
The 2013 VaSID College Division All-State softball teams:
VaSID Player of the Year – Tori Higginbotham, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan
VaSID Pitcher of the Year – MacKenzie Creech, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan
VaSID Coach of the Year – Brandon Elliott, Virginia Wesleyan
VaSID Rookie of the Year – Hannah McCloud, Fr., Virginia Intermont
P – MacKenzie Creech, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan
P – Micalah Sacre, So., Virginia Intermont
C – Madison Gilman, Fr., Randolph-Macon
1B – Sabrina Hill, So., Chistopher Newport
2B – Kelly Keys, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan
3B – Hannah McCloud, Fr., Virginia Intermont
SS – Sharese Jarvis, So., Randolph-Macon
OF – Tori Higginbotham, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan
OF – Kelley Foate, Jr., Christopher Newport
OF – Leona Rainey, Sr., Roanoke
DP/UT – Courtney Allman, Sr., Eastern Mennonite
P – Kaitlyn Culler, Sr., Ferrum
P – Heather Lewis, Sr., Randolph-Macon
C – Ashley Ebersole, Sr., Emory & Henry
1B – Alea Bier, Sr., Roanoke
2B – Melanie Tenney, Jr., Lynchburg
3B – Hannah Bays, Fr., Emory & Henry
SS – Taylor Dix, Fr., Averett
OF – Kimberly Brady, Fr., Shenandoah
OF – Krystle Brenneman, Sr., Virginia Intermont
OF – Kristina McLaughlin, Jr., Christopher Newport
DP/UT – Lindsey Inzana, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan