CARROLLTON, Ga. - For the first time since the 2011 season, a UWG softball player has been named Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year, as Raven Smith was honored with the announcement of the 2017 All-Gulf South Conference honorees on Wednesday afternoon. In the annual release, conference coaches also voted sophomore second baseman Sierra Stella as First Team All-GSC.
Smith joins Nicole Yancey and Candice Brown as the only UWG players in school history to be named Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year. Yancey and Brown both won the award when the GSC was split into East and West Divisions, making Smith the first ever at UWG to win the honor without the division model. Stella becomes the first player since the 2014 season to be named First Team All-GSC, with Yancey claiming that distinction as a senior.
Smith led the Wolves in hitting this season and enters the GSC Tournament this weekend with a .376 batting average. She had 16 extra-base hits on the year, including nine doubles, a triple and six home runs, leading the team also with 40 RBI. She has 15 multi-hit games on the year and 11 games with two or more RBI. Her .376 batting average is 11th-best among Gulf South Conference hitters.
Stella finished the regular season on a tear, hitting .414 over the final 20 games, heading into the 2017 Gulf South Conference tournament with a .358 overall batting average. She has 63 hits on the season, good for ninth in UWG single-season history and was second on the team in runs scored with 47. Stella really picked up her power numbers late in the season as well, as in that 20-game span, she hit eight of her 11 doubles on the year.
West Georgia advanced to the GSC Tourney for the first time since the 2014 season, and the Wolves will take on host and top-seeded Alabama Huntsville on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. The Wolves will then take on the winner/loser from the North Alabama/Valdosta State game later on Friday evening.