FRISCO, Texas (Southland) - Sam Houston State senior first baseman Kim Damian, the 2012 Southland Conference Hitter of the Year, highlights a talented list of returning players on the 2013 preseason all-conference softball teams, the league office announced Wednesday.
Damian, an Angleton, Texas, native, became the first Sam Houston player to earn hitter of the year honors in 19 years after leading the Bearkats to an appearance in the Southland tournament championship game. The Bearkat first baseman led the Southland in slugging (.684), total bases (104) and homeruns (11) and ranked sixth in batting average (.362) in 2012. She totaled 15 multiple hit games and had an eight-game hitting streak last year, which was the longest on the Bearkats' squad. Damian was efficient in the field last season, posting a .989 fielding percentage while only committing three errors.
The other award winner returning to the diamond this season is Nicholls State senior second baseman Ashley Bertot, last season's newcomer of the year. A native of League City, Texas, Bertot was the second consecutive Colonel to be named newcomer of the year, joining former teammate Ashley Ray. Bertot led the conference in batting average (.388) and on-base percentage (.459) while ranking second in stolen bases (15) and eighth in both hits (54) and runs scored (30).
Sam Houston State leads all teams with seven all-conference selections, including four players on the first team. First-team honorees for the Bearkats include Damian, senior third baseman Shelbi Tucker, senior outfielder Tori Benavidez and sophomore catcher Hillary Adams. Sam Houston's second-team members are senior designated player Ashley Isbell, junior shortstop Sarah Allison and junior pitcher Shelby Tucker.
Central Arkansas posts six all-conference selections with three seniors on the first team. Utility player Melissa Bryant, outfielder Staphanie Lasley and pitcher Kelsie Armstrong all receive first-team honors while senior catcher Melanie Bryant, sophomore third baseman Tiffany Roby and sophomore first baseman Ashley Boswell earn a spot on the second team for the Bears.
Joining UCA with three selections on the first-team is McNeese State. Representing the Cowgirls are senior pitcher Meagan Bond, junior outfielder Alanna DiVittorio and sophomore designated player Ashley Modzelewski. McNeese also has one second-team honoree with sophomore outfielder Lauren Langner to give the Cowgirls a total of four all-conference selections.
Nicholls and Northwestern State each place one member on the first team to round out the team. Nicholls is represented by Bertot while junior shortstop Tara McKenney is the lone Lady Demon on the team.
Southeastern Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin both have two second-team all-conference selections while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi completes the preseason all-conference team with one member on the second team.
Returning players who earned first- and second-team all-conference honors following the 2012 season automatically receive preseason honors. Third-team postseason selections move into vacated positions on the first and second preseason teams. The remaining spots are voted on by the league's head coaches.
2013 All-Southland Conference Preseason Softball Teams
Pos. Name University Class Hometown
1B Kim Damian* Sam Houston State Sr. Angleton, Texas
2B Ashley Bertot* Nicholls State Sr. League City, Texas
3B Shelbi Tucker* Sam Houston State Sr. Montgomery, Texas
SS Tara McKenney* Northwestern State Jr. Red Oak, Texas
C Hillary Adams* Sam Houston State So. Elgin, Texas
UT Melissa Bryant* Central Arkansas Sr. Hernando, Miss.
DP Ashley Modzelewski* McNeese State So. Sour Lake, Texas
OF Tori Benavidez* Sam Houston State Sr. Midlothian, Texas
OF Alanna DiVittorio* McNeese State Jr. Harahan, La.
OF Stephanie Lasley* Central Arkansas Sr. Enola, Ark.
P Kelsie Armstrong* Central Arkansas Sr. Hot Springs, Ark.
P Meagan Bond McNeese State Sr. Lumberton, Miss.
Pos. Name University Class Hometown
1B Ashley Boswell* Central Arkansas So. Tahlequah, Okla.
2B Megan McCollum Southeastern La. Jr. Lafayette, La.
3B Tiffany Roby* Central Arkansas So. North Little Rock, Ark.
SS Sarah Allison* Sam Houston State Jr. College Station, Texas
C Melanie Bryant* Central Arkansas Sr. Hernando, Miss.
UT Elizabeth Arana* Stephen F. Austin Jr. The Woodlands, Texas
DP Ashley Isbell* Sam Houston State Sr. Katy, Texas
OF Michelle Duhe Southeastern La. Sr. Lutcher, La.
OF Mickayla Cochran A&M-Corpus Christi So. Peoria, Ariz.
OF Lauren Langner McNeese State So. Pearland, Texas
P Shelby Lancaster Sam Houston State Jr. Tomball, Texas
P Carlie Thomas Stephen F. Austin Jr. Huntington, Texas
*Returning all-conference selection