Su Belt Conference announces preseason softball honors

Published 10:18 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

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Texas State’s Sara Vanderford and Troy’s Leanna Johnson headline the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Preseason Honors and All-Conference Team, announced Thursday. The awards were determined by a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches.

Vanderford was named the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, while Johnson was selected as the Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Both also earned spots on the 15-member Preseason All-Sun Belt Team.

Vanderford, a Pasadena, Texas, native, was a First-Team All-Sun Belt selection and also the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2021. She was a three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year a season ago – the only player in the SBC to accomplish that feat. She garnered NFCA All-Central Region Third Team accolades in 2021. Vanderford was one of just two Texas State players to start all 53 of her team’s games in 2021. She became just the second student-athlete in program history to bat .400 or better for a season. Vanderford led the Bobcats in batting average (.405), at bats (153), runs (38), hits (62), doubles (18), home runs (12), RBI (46), total bases (116), slugging percentage (.758), on-base percentage (.445), sacrifice flies (6), multi-hit games (19) and multi-RBI games (10). She led the Sun Belt in doubles, home runs, slugging percentage and sacrifice flies. Her 18 doubles ranked ninth in the nation, her 116 total bases ranked 47th nationally and her .758 slugging percentage was 54th best in the country.

Johnson, a Brantley, Ala., native, was a First-Team All-Sun Belt selection last season and earned recognition to the NFCA All-South Region Second Team. She also garnered three Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week selections. She led the Sun Belt Conference in ERA (1.66), opposing batting average (.166), strikeouts (260) and starts (29). Johnson ranked second in the league in innings pitched (181.0) and wins (21). She ranked 12th nationally in strikeouts (260), 14th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.1), 20th in shutouts (7), 22nd in hits allowed per seven innings (4.14) and 26th in victories (21). She ranked fifth on Troy’s single-season wins list, fifth in strikeouts and eighth in shutouts. Johnson appeared in 36 games, making 29 starts and posting a 21-8 record. She recorded a 1.66 ERA over 181.0 innings tossed. Johnson pinned opponents to a league-leading .166 opposing batting average. She hurled 11 double-digit strikeout contests. Johnson has topped the 500-career strikeouts mark.

Sun Belt softball teams begin play on Friday, February 11. The 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Tournament will take place May 10-14, 2022 at Jaguar Field in Mobile, Ala.

2022 Sun Belt Softball Preseason Awards

Preseason Player of the Year: Sara Vanderford, Texas State

Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Leanna Johnson, Troy

Preseason All-Sun Belt
Olivia Lackie, South Alabama, P
Leanna Johnson, Troy, P
Kandra Lamb, Louisiana, P
Jessica Mullins, Texas State, P
Kamdyn Kvistad, South Alabama, C
Sophie Piskos, Louisiana, C
Faith Shirley, Georgia Southern, 1B
Kelly Horne, Troy, 2B
Daisy Hess, Georgia State, SS
Sara Vanderford, Texas State, 3B
Iyanla De Jesus, Coastal Carolina, DP
Raina O’Neal, Louisiana, OF
Mackenzie Brasher, South Alabama, OF
Emily Brown, Georgia State, OF
Jade Sinness, Troy, OF

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