FOREST, Va. -- Virginia Wesleyan College senior Tori Higginbotham and juniorKristinia Karagiorgis have added their names to an elite group of Marlin softball standouts, and head coach Brandon Elliott has extended his status as one of the most honored mentors in program history.
All three individuals have earned major Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) honors, topping a list of a record-tying nine Marlins receiving awards determined by league coaches. It is the second year in a row and fifth time overall that nine VWC players have received all-league recognition.
Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker) was named the ODAC Player of the Year for the third time in a row, Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briar Woods) was selected as the ODAC Pitcher of the Year for the second time in three years, and Elliott has earned Coach of the Year honors for the third time in four years.
Higginbotham and Karagiorgis were also named to the All-ODAC first team, along with senior pitcher MacKenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) and sophomores Taylor Galvin (Virginia Beach/Kempsville) and Kayla Dost (Bristow/Nokesville Brentsville). Senior Andrea Shannon (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) was named to the second team and senior Lindsey Inzana (Chesapeake/Grassfield) and sophomores Kayla Malkos (Roanoke/Cave Spring) and Courtney Bogan (Round Hill/Woodgrove) all picked up third team honors.
The ODAC honors were the fourth straight for Higginbotham and Creech, who are VWC's first four-year honoree since Devin Allen (2001-04). Only 10 women in VWC's 32-year softball history have received four consecutive All-ODAC awards. Karagiorgis earned her third straight conference honor, Shannon, Inzana, Galvin, and Bogan each picked up their second in a row, and Dost and Malkos were honored for the first time.
Higginbotham, named the ODAC championship tournament's Most Outstanding Player, is only the second player in conference history to earn three Player of the Year awards. She is the first to earn the honor in three consecutive years. Higginbotham is only the third VWC woman to receive the honor, part of an elite trio that includes Anna Bowers (1990) and Larissa Cash (1992).
Currently ranked third in the ODAC with a .473 batting average, Higginbotham is also ranked second in hits (62) and runs scored (47). She is also ranked second in the league in stolen bases, with 38 in 40 attempts, and fourth in runs-batted-in with 42. Higginbotham will enter NCAA tournament competition riding a 19-game hitting streak.
Karagiorgis will also enter the tournament riding a streak of 11 wins in the pitching circle. She owns a career-best record of 21-4 and is only the fifth VWC pitcher to record 21+ season victories. The Pitcher of the Year honor is the second for Karagiorgis, who is only the second Marlin pitcher to accomplish the feat. Brittaney Brown was the first, earning the honor in 2008 and 2010.
Karagiorgis currently leads the ODAC with a career-high 140 strikeouts in 137 innings. She struck out six or more batters 11 times so far this season, including a season-high nine twice. Her 21 victories lead the league, as does her current 1.02 earned run average. That ERA currently matches the VWC single-season record set by Brown in 2010. Oppenents hit just .190 against her, sharing the top mark in the league with her own teammate, MacKenzie Creech.
Creech, the 2013 ODAC Pitcher of the Year, is currently 14-0 and owns a 1.11 ERA in 88 innings in the pitching circle. She has struck out 77 batters, averaging 6.12 per game, the third highest average in the league. Creech, who struck out a season-high 12 batters, now has 305 career strikeouts, the fourth highest total in VWC history.
VWC's pitching staff, which includes sophomore Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial) and Inzana, currently owns a team ERA of 1.27, the eighth best in the nation. The Marlins also own a .354 team batting average, led by Higginbotham with a .473 batting average. She leads the team with 62 hits, nine doubles, four triples, six home runs, and 42 RBI. Malkos, the ODAC and national leader in stolen bases with 49 in 53 attempts, is hitting at .392 clip. Bogan and Shannon are both hitting .375, Dost adds a .367 mark, and 39 RBI, Galvin owns a .348 average, and Inzana is hitting at a .323 clip.
|2014 ALL-ODAC SOFTBALL AWARDS|
|ODAC Player of the Year: Tori Higginbotham, Sr., OF, Virginia Wesleyan|
|ODAC Pitcher of the Year: Kristina Karagiorgis, Jr., Virginia Wesleyan|
|ODAC Coach of the Year: Brandon Elliott, Virginia Wesleyan|
|ODAC Rookie of the Year: Hunter Glavé, Fr., 1B, Randolph|
|ODAC/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete: Melanie Tenney, Sr., 2B, Lynchburg|
|ALL-ODAC FIRST TEAM|
|Mackenzie Creech||P||Sr.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Kristina Karagiorgis||P||Jr.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Taylor Galvin||C||So.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Kayla Dost||3B||So.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Tori Higginbotham||OF||Sr.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Aislinn Lucas||OF||So.||Eastern Mennonite|
|ALL-ODAC SECOND TEAM|
|Nicolette Cuevas||C||So.||Eastern Mennonite|
|Mariah Foltz||3B||Fr.||Eastern Mennonite|
|Andrea Shannon||SS||Sr.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Roxanne Hillman||DP||Jr.||Emory & Henry|
|ALL-ODAC THIRD TEAM|
|Jordan Chrisley||C||Fr.||Emory & Henry|
|Taylor Doss||1B||So.||Emory & Henry|
|Kayla Malkos||2B||So.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Ragan Halsey||3B||Fr.||Emory & Henry|
|Brooke Hensley||SS||Sr.||Eastern Mennonite|
|Courtney Bogan||OF||So.||Virginia Wesleyan|
|Brooke Sigrist||OF||Jr.||Eastern Mennonite|
|Lindsey Inzana||DP||Sr.||Virginia Wesleyan|