Not only did the Florida Gator softball team finish the regular season as SEC champions, six players were awarded on Tuesday with several SEC honors. Kelsey Stewart, Lauren Haeger, Kirsti Merritt, Aleshia Ocasio, Nicole DeWitt, and Kathlyn Medina have been recognized by the coaches of the conference as some of the best in the SEC.
The most prestigious award given to a conference player, the SEC Player of the Year, was given to second baseman Kelsey Stewart. The junior becomes just the fifth Gator to be honored with this award, the last Gator being Michelle Moultrie in 2012. Stewart finished the year with an incredible .452 batting average, a .502 on-base percentage, eight triples and 22 stolen bases.
The SEC Pitcher of the Year was awarded to senior Lauren Haeger. She becomes the third Gator to win this award, the first since Stacey Nelson in 2009. Haeger finished with a perfect 23-0 record, 1.46 earned run average, an opponents’ batting average of .194 and 164 strikeouts.
Junior Kirsti Merritt joins Stewart and Haeger on the All-SEC Team. The center fielder hit .331 in 2015, led the team with a .513 on-base percentage, and led the conference in hit-by-pitches with 30.
Freshmen Aleshia Ocasio and Nicole DeWitt were voted into the All-SEC Freshman Team. Both Ocasio and DeWitt became integral parts of the team at the start of the season. Ocasio solidified herself as the number two starter behind Lauren Haeger and in front of Delanie Gourley. DeWitt kept her starting job at left field even after rolling her ankle in the middle of the season.
Shortstop Kathlyn Medina, along with Kelsey Stewart, represent the Gators in the All-SEC Defensive Team. Florida ranks as the best fielding team in the country according to NCAA statistics and Medina led the Gators to that mark. Medina is regarded by her teammates as the leader of the defense and one of the best defenders in the country.
The Florida Gators enter the SEC Tournament this week as the number one seed. They await the winner of Wednesday’s match-up between Texas A&M and South Carolina. Florida faces the winner on Thursday at 4 p.m.