South Alabama honored student-athletes Monday at the sixth annual Pete Tolbert Night of Champions at the Mitchell Center. The event recognizes the achievements, both in competition and academically, of the nearly 400 individuals who comprise the University of South Alabama athletics program.
Kaitlyn Griffith (Softball from Centre, AL) and Daniel Leitner (Men’s Tennis from Neiderfischbach, Germany) were named the Jaguar Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year respectively, honoring the most outstanding Jaguars based on scholarship, athletic ability and citizenship.
Griffith, a senior shortstop for the softball team is hitting .296 with a team-high 11 home runs, with 38 RBI, 25 runs scored and helping the team to a 33-9 record thus far and a top-25 national ranking throughout the 2015 season. She is a three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete and is set to receiver her degree in May in exercise science. She has a 3.82 cumulative GPA.
Leitner, a senior, is the reigning two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in men’s tennis. He earned the award this spring after amassing a 28-5 overall record in singles play and a 22-6 record in doubles play. He was named to the first-team All-SBC in both singles and doubles, and as the highest-rated individual in the conference, will earn a berth to the NCAA Singles Championships in May. He will graduate with a 3.89 GPA in exercise science in May.
A pair of Griffith’s teammates on the Softball team also earned awards.
Farish Beard was chosen at the school’s NCAA Woman of the Year Nominee with Blair Johnson earning the Jimmy Taylor Scholarship.
Beard, who currently has a 3.39 GPA, was selected as the nominee for that goes to a varsity letterwinner completing her intercollegiate eligibility by the end of spring sports season, who has excelled in academics, athletics, service and leadership with a minimum of a cumulative 2.5 GPA. She is also a finalist for both the Senior CLASS and 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year awards. This season she is 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Johnson earned the award going to a student-athlete who holds a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, has completed their NCAA eligibility and with the assistance of the fund will graduate from USA within two consecutive semesters. She has earned All-SBC honors twice during her career and this year she is batting .254 with 12 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, and 14 walks to only eight strikeouts.
Sophie Haywood from Hull, England, earned the Auralia Crowell Freshman Scholar Athlete Awards given to the most outstanding freshman based on excellence in academics and athletics. She was named First-Team All-Conference after posting 19 points on seven goals and five assists in helping the Jaguar soccer team tow in the conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. She has a 4.0 GPA as an exercise science major.
Adam Ballew of the baseball team was awarded the Denny-Gottfried Scholarship Award that is presented to the student-athlete who has exhausted their eligibilty, maintained an outstanding GPA and achieved athletic accomplishment. In his final season at USA, he has helped the Jaguar baseball team to a 29-16 record thus far while batting .275 with five extra-base hits, 26 RBI and eight stolen bases. He is an exercise science major with a 3.38 GPA.
Derek Westbrook from Diamondhead, MS, received a pair of awards. He arned the Shirley Holt Scholarship Award as well as the Male Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. The former is given to a student-athlete who exemplifies outstanding “Team Spirit” and who has shown great character and concern for his or her fellow student-athletes. The latter recognizes overall support of Jaguar Athletics. Both awards exemplifies Derek’s contributions to South Alabama Athletics and also marks the second-consecutive year that he has garnered the JAG Award honors.
Caroline Beebe earned the Female Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. Which marks the second consecutive year that both she has earned the JAF Award as well.
Hunter Colemani was awarded the Tom and Barbara Corcoran Scholar-Athlete Endowed Scholarship Award which is given to a USA Junior who most excels in sports while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA. The right handed pitcher has a 4.0 GPA in biomedical sciences in the classroom while on the diamond he has a 1-0 record with a 0.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts and 15.1 innings of work.
Jimmie Gipson III was awarded the Wilson Durgin Memorial Scholarship Award which goes to a minority student-athlete who has excelled in both the classroom and competition. Nikki Gittens was awarded the Female Perseverance Award after she suffered a stress fracture in her tibia that forced her to redshirt in 2013, she then returned and ranked third on the volleyball team with 243 kills and led the team with a .250 attack percentage and 83 total blocks while helping the Jags qualify for the SBC tournament despite tendinitis in her knee and hitting shoulder.
Ucambre Williams earned the Male Perseverance Award after undergoing three separate surgical procedures and requiring over six months of rehabilitation. After surgery on his right knee in September he returned in just 15 days and would go on to start 11 consecutive games while posting a team-best 90 percent overall grade and being named to the second-team All-SBC and helped the Jaguars play in its first-ever postseason bowl game.
Brandon Bridge was awarded the Mayer Mitchell Quarterback Endowment Fund Award as the Jaguars starter last fall. Matt Bolger earned the Clifton Inge Endowed Baseball Award. David Knapp earned the Forrest W. and Beverly B. Crowder Endwoed Scholarship for baseball. Mark Watts earned the McKinney Family Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field. Emily Newton earned the George Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field as well.
Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations Greg Keel was selected for the Matt Smith Award which goes to a member of the athletics staff who consistenly goes the extra mile, has the spirit of commitment, a strong work ethic, and a deep sense of pride in their job. The award is named in memory of former USA Sports Information Director Matt Smith who passed away in December of 2004.
Each sport program also presented awards at the event. The winners of those honors were:
- Eddie Stanky Award (baseball), Bolger
- Goldie Ungar Heart of Gold Award (men’s basketball), Dionte Ferguson
- Jaguar Women’s Basketball NCAA Award (women’s basketball), Breanna Hall
- Female Distance Award (women’s cross country), Nicole Durham
- Male Distance Award (men’s cross country), Christoph Graf
- Jim Yance Heart of a Jaguar Award (football), Jesse Kelley
- Heath Slocum Award (men’s golf), Tyler Klava
- Beth Barry Award (women’s golf), Ingrid Hagen
- Lindsay Rogers Award (soccer), Alyssa Mayer
- Extra Mile Award (softball), Stephanie Pilkington
- Lubel Family Award (men’s tennis), Leitner
- Marilyn Lubel Award (women’s tennis), Laura Matuskova
- Most Outstanding Women’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (women’s track and field), Kaitlyn Beans
- Most Outstanding Men’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (men’s track and field), Jan-Louw Kotze
- Jaguar Volleyball Award (volleyball), Gittens
Prior to the naming of the Jaguar Student-Athletes of the Year, 46 current and former student-athletes who will graduate at the conclusion of the semester received gifts from the department.
Congratulations to all the award winners as well as all of the student-athletes who will earn their degrees. Thank you for representing the University in each of your respective sports with honor and character. Once a Jaguar, always a Jaguar.
Ken Williams was voted to the All-SBC Men’s Basketball Second Team, his first all-conference honor in his career. He ranks seventh in the conference in scoring with 15.9 ppg, second in 3-pointers per game with 2.6, eighth in 3-point percentage with a .371 average, and eighth in free-throw percentage with .794. He averaged 18 points and 2.8 3-pointers per game which ranked second and first in the conference respectively.
His current total of 82 triples is seventh best at USA in a single season and a record for a sophomore. He is four points away from becoming the 21st player in school history to score 500 points in a season.
Williams scored 20 or more points 10 times this season, including a stretch of four consecutive with at least 23 points. He also make multiple three-pointers in 24 of his 31 games this season.
The South Alabama Men’s Team will face Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday with tip-off scheduled for 7:30pm in New Orleans. The game will be aired on ESPN3.
Hall was named to the Third-Team All-SBC on Tuesday for her first postseason honor. She earned preseason All-Conference honors earlier this year.
She ended the regular season ranked fifth in the conference in scoring with 15.4 ppg. She accounted for 416 points this season, the first Jaguar to top the 400-point mark since 2008-09 season. Hall led the conference in 3-point shooting with a 40.8% mark and was among the national leaders in that category. Her 2.4 triples per game were second most in the conference this season.
She ranked third in free throw shooting by converting 82% of her attempts.
The Jaguar men’s basketball team used a fast start to hold on against Texas-Arlington 97-91. USA held a 20-point lead at halftime but the Mavericks outscored the Jags 62-48 in the second half, as the Jags committed 14 of their 20 turnovers in the second half, but were unable to overcome the deficit.
The Jags improve their overall record to 9-17 and their conference record to 7-8. Texas-Arlington fell to 14-10 overall and 8-6 in conference play.
Sophomore Ken Williams led all scorers with a career-high 29 points with a personal best eight rebounds. He connected on six of 10 three-point attempts, five of them made in the first half. He was also 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.
They travel to Georgia State on Thursday to take on the Panthers for a 6pm tip.
The #24 ranked Lady Jaguars completed a four-game sweep of the Mardi Gras Invitational.
The weekend began on Friday with a 5-4 win over Oklahoma State. The game was decided in the bottom of the seventh when Stephanie Pilkington drew a bases-loaded walk to end the game.
On Saturday, the Jags scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first and third innings then were able to cruise to the 4-1 win over Lipscomb. Freshman Kalen McGill earned her second win of the season (2-0) where the recorded three strikeouts an no walks. She only allowed a single earned run on four hits with her ERA holding at 0.51.
South Alabama Women’s Basketball head coach Terry Fowler announced the promotion of Mallory Luckett to assistant head coach and the hiring of Matthew Daniels as the new director of basketball operations on Monday.
Luckett served as the director of operations for the women’s team last season. She served on coach Fowlers staff at the University of North Alabama for the previous three seasons. Her first two seasons she served as a graduate assistant before moving into an assistant coaching position for the 2012-2013 season at UNA after earning her master’s degree in criminal justice.
She arrived at UNA after playing four seasons at Murray State where she was a walk-on. She earned a scholarship her sophomore year and became a starter for her junior and senior seasons. During her senior season she became the only Racer to earn a triple-double when she posted 14 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against Jacksonville State.
During her first season with coach Fowler she helped guide the team to a 21-7 record and a first place finish in the Gulf South Conference East Division. They advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since 1994.
Daniels joins the program after spending one season as Jacksonville University where he was a graduate assistant coach on the men’s basketball staff under Cliff Warren for the 2013-2014 season. As a graduate assistant with the Dolphins, he organized and edited video for scouting and player development and also scheduled team functions and events.
Daniels received his bachelors of science degree from UNA in 2012 and began working on his masters of education degree while at JU. While at UNA, Daniels served as a student manager for four seasons 2008-2012 for UNA’s head coach Bobby Champagne. As a senior he also worked as a student worker in the UNA Compliance Office. He has been a member of the Rising Coaches Elite since June 2011.
Congratulations Coach Luckett and welcome to JagNation Coach Daniels.
Meghan Dunn was selected to the All-Sun Belt Conference Third Team on Tuesday for her first postseason All-Conference honor in her career.
She was selected to the third-team by conference coaches and media on Tuesday and she extended the streak to 12-consecutive seasons at least one lady Jaguar was named to the All-Conference team.
In her final game as a Jaguar she recorded 23 points and four steals as she was key in the Jaguars 60-57 overtime win against UT-Arlington. Her four points in the final seconds of regulation sent the game to overtime, where she sunk four free throws to help seal the win in the extra period. She also blocked the game-tying three-point attempt defensively.
She finished the season tied for 10th in the conference in scoring. Even though she was keyed on by opposing defenses, she still managed to score double-digits 20 times this season and 13 of her final 18 Sun Belt games.
With injuries to Brittany Webb and Colby Davis, Dunn was forced to take over the point guard position and managed to average 13.1 points and 3.2 assists per game through the final nine games at that position.
The Men’s team defeated UT-Arlington behind the leadership of the teams two seniors, Augustine Rubit and Antoine Allen, who combined to score 42 points to end their Jaguar careers on a high note with a 78-73 win.
Rubit earned his 54th career double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, with 14 points and 10 reboudns coming in the second half alone. Allen scored 24 points with 16 of them coming in the first half. Allen nailed five three-pointers and a season-high seven rebounds.
Rubit’s Jaguar historic career ends with him in 2nd place in points, 5th place in field goals made, 3rd place in field goals attempted, 1st in free throws made and attempted, 1st in rebounds, 3rd in rebounding average, 3rd in blocks, 1st in double-doubles, and tied for 2nd in games played. He recoreded a double-double in his first game as a Jaguar and the final game as a Jaguar.
“Well first and foremost, congratulations to our two seniors, Antoine Allen and Augustine Rubit,” head coach Matthew Graves said. “Even though we didn’t play in the conference tournament, they hung tough and we finished the season with two wins. What a way to go out.”
“I think this is arguably Antoine’s best game that he has played all season,” Graves noted. “I was really proud of his effort. I thought he played more within himself tonight than he did the entire season so that’s a really big positive.”
Ken Williams and Mychal Ammons both scored 13 points each with Ammons recorded three blocks. Barrington Stevens III had five assits with only one turnover. The Jags held the Sun Belt’s leading scorer to 11 points on 2-of-17 shooting and 1-of-11 from 3-point range. He entered the game averaging 20.5 points per game.
The South Alabama women’s basketball team finished out the season with a 60-57 win over UT-Arlington as Meghan Dunn scored a career-high 23 points, including four pivotal free throws in overtime to give USA the win.
The team said farewell to seniors: Dunn, Jennifer Johnson, Olivia Mohler and Ronneka Robertson.
The Jaguar softball team won four of their five games over the weekend at the Parents’ Weekend Invitational in Boca Raton, Florida. The Jags opened the weekend with a 1-0 win over Marshall. Then came back in the nightcap and lost 1-0 to Virginia Tech.
Against Marshall Farish Beard was on top of her game and retired 19 consecutive batters to give the Jaguars a chance to win the game.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Amanda Minahan led off the inning with a single, then Gwen Jones replaced her to pinch run. Then Junior shortstop Kaitlyn Griffith delivered a two-out RBI triple to being Jones home and provide the winning margin for USA.
Against Virginia Tech the Jaguars leadoff hitter got on base in five of the seven innings but none of them could get home. The Jags left seven runners on base in the game with Stephanie Pilkington being the only Jaguar to record a hit by going 2-for-3. Emily Messer, Amanda Minahan and Taylor Rodgers all drew walks.
Hannah Campbell retired 18 consecutive batters to start the the game. In the bottom of the seventh Hokie Kylie McGOldrick led off the inning with a double to the left center gap. Katey Smith would single to center field to drive McGoldrick in for the winning run.
USA had an opportunity in the second inning after Griffith and Minahan were hit by pitches in back-to-back at-bats, then Rodgers would draw a walk but back-to-back strikeouts would end the Jaguars’ threat.
Campbell finished with five strikeouts and only one walk.
On Saturday they defeated Illinois 5-3 in an afternoon game then turned around and defeated host Florida Atlantic 7-1 in the nightcap.
The Illini jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, then doubled it with a leadoff solo homerun in the second inning. But the Jags would respond in the bottom of the second when Chloe Rathburn delivered her own solo leadoff homer to cut the lead to 2-1.
Down 3-1 in the top of the third, Amanda Minahan got the first of her three RBI ont he day with a single that scored Rodgers. Pilkington then scored on a fielders choice to tie the game at 3-3.
Illinois threatened in the top of the fifth after back-to-back hits, but Campbell retired consecutive batters to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth with Kaitlyn Griffith on base after being hit by a pitch, Alex Breeden belted her fourth homer of the season for the winning margin, 5-3.
On Sunday they defeated Illinois again 5-2 in eight innings.
The Jaguars sweeped the weekend series from Southern Illinois to improve to 8-7 on the season.
On Friday night, second baseman Matt Bolger delivered a walk-off RBI in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Jags the first game 4-3.
In game two on Saturday, Locke St. John struck out a career-high five batters in eight innings to lead the Jags to a 4-1 win to clinch the series. He only allowed one run and five hits for the game.
St. John threw eight consecutive scoreless innings before surrendering a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning. James Traylor pitched one scoreless inning to earn his first save of the season. He walked two and struck out one in the one inning of relief.
Not content on just clinching the series, the Jags returned on Sunday to finish off SIU, but it would go into an extra inning to do so.
Hayden Jones delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th for the Jaguars to secure the 5-4 win and the sweep.
Jaguar Davis Knapp got on base by being hit by a pitch. He would then move to third on a one-out single to left-center field by Bud Collura. Then Jones would fly a 0-1 pitch to left field allowing Knapp to tag up and score the winning run.
SIU fell to 8-6 on the season while the Jags got above .500 at 8-7.
The Bobcats used a 14-0 run midway through the second half to regain the lead and held onto it the rest of the way. While the Jags held a 30-18 advantage over the Bobcats in points in the paint, they turned the ball over 20 times which led to 20 points for their opponents.
Jennifer Johnson finished the game with 17 points, just one shy of her career high. Breanna Hall added 15 points for her 11th double-digit scoring game in the Jaguars last 13 games.
The Jags how lost their last eight games to fall to 7-20 on the season and 5-12 in Sun Belt play. They will close out the season against Texas-Arlington on Saturday night for Senior night. They will honor four seniors prior to the game: Meghan Dunn, Jennifer Johnson, Olivia Mohler and Ronneka Robertson.
“I’m very disappointed, and our kids are really hurting,” Jaguar head coach Terry Fowler said after the game. “We basically had four opportunities with the two games last week and tonight, and I thought we played well enough for 30-33 minutes to win them. Unfortunately it’s a 40-minute ball game, if we could get the NCAA to somehow give us a 33-minute game our record would be a lot different.”
“We told (the team) in the locker room we know that we’re not going to the conference tournament, but Saturday night is Senior Night, and that’s special night,” Fowler said. “We play for our seniors, so let’s send them out on a high note. I haven’t lost on Senior Night in the last seven years, and the challenge is to play for our seniors. That’s our plan.”
Come out Saturday night to send our Jaguar Seniors out on a high note.
South Alabama’s woes continue as they lost their seventh consecutive game, this time in overtime, to Louisiana-Lafayette in the Cajundome 68-61.
The losing streak began against Troy on February 6, the game in which Brittany Webb was injured and lost for the remainder of the season. The team was already thin, but was extremely thin at point guard.
After dropping their last seven consecutive games, the lady Jaguars stand at 7-19 overall and 5-11 in conference play. They have fallen out of the top eight, who will fill the eight seeds for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in New Orleans which is fast approaching.
With two games remaining, they are two games behind a trio of teams sitting at 7-9 in the conference. The Jags would have to win out and get some help from those teams ahead of them in order to potentially make the conference tournament. The math is pretty simple actually, win two games and ULM lose two games and the Jaguars are in.
Both games are at home for the Jaguars which could be just the help they need to get back into the win column. At least it would give them momentum going into the offseason. ULM will play the final two games of the season on the road at Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock, the first and third place teams in the conference.
As for the game itself, Ronnka Robertson posted a career performance with 28 points and 17 rebounds. But in overtime, the Cajuns outshot the Jags at the free throw line which made the difference. ULL was 9-of-10 from the free throw stripe, while the Jaguars were only 5-of-10.
The Lady Jags will try to do their part on Wednesday when they host Texas State at the Mitchell Center for a 7:05pm tipoff.
The Lady Jaguar basketball team fell to Louisiana-Monroe on the road Wednesday night. Breanna Hall hit five three-pointers en route to a career-high 26 point night, but ULM’s 26-of-33 from the charity stripe, including 6-of-8 in the final minute, was enough to down the Jaguars 76-70.
The Jags fall to 7-18 on the season and 5-10 in Conference play. They have also fallen out of the eighth and final spot in the Conference Tournament by one game.
The Jags will play Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday in a 5:30pm tip-off that will be aired on the Sun Belt Network.
USA Women’s Basketball fell to Arkansas State 71-58 on Wednesday as a result of a limited roster and an overabundance of turnovers.
The Jags were 20-for-42 from the floor, but committed 26 turnovers in the loss. The Jags fall to 7-14 on the season and 5-6 in Conference play. ASU improves to 16-8 overall and 10-2 in the Conference.
They will return to action for a two-game road swing beginning on Saturday against Western Kentucky, which will be the Jaguars and Hilltoppers final regular season game against each other as Sun Belt Conference members.
Tonight the Men’s team hosts Arkansas State.