Lancer softball earns Big South awards
Published 4:48 pm Friday, May 19, 2023
Following a season that saw Longwood earn a share of the Big South regular season title for the second straight year, the conference announced its yearly awards. The Lancers were well represented with nine total selections.
Reigning Big South Freshman of the Year Jaden Pone took her game to another level this season, earning the Big South Player of the Year in her second year in Farmville. Alongside Pone in the conference’s yearly awards is head coach Dr. Megan Brown, who was named the Big South Coach of the Year after leading her team to the #1 overall seed in the conference.
Overall, eight different Lancer players earned a postseason distinction, the most since 2019. Joining Pone are Second-Team All-Conference selections Lauren Fox, Kelly Park, Lauren Taylor, Korynna Anderson and Maryanna Guy. Pitcher Reggie Kanagawa earned an honorable mention selection, Guy and Maggie Chapin were named to the All-Freshman team, and Anderson is Longwood’s All-Academic team selection.
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Pone was recognized for her outstanding freshman season a year ago and now takes home the highest individual honor for a player in the conference. The Hope Mills, North Carolina product hit atop of the batting order all season long, starting in all 48 games for the Lancers.
On the season, Pone batted .426 and .452 in conference, both of which ranked first in the Big South. She led the conference in hits with 69 and was third in OPS with 1.090.
In addition, Pone’s power numbers increased significantly this season. She sits third nationally in triples with seven, fifth in the conference with a .630 slugging percentage, and connected on three home runs.
A BIG MOMENT
One of Pone’s biggest moments this season came in the series against USC Upstate when the sophomore unlocked her power-hitting potential. She connected on a go-ahead grand slam to win game two of the series, marking the very first collegiate home run of her career.
Pone recorded 2+ hits in 21 games this season, stole a team-best 32 bases, and posted a .462 on base percentage despite going up against one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in the country.
The architect of that schedule is head coach Dr. Megan Brown, who takes home the Big South Coach of the Year in only her third season in Farmville. Under Dr. Brown, the Lancers have won at least 26 games every year and have finished top three in the conference each season.
This season, Longwood embarked on a challenging non-conference schedule aimed at preparing the team for postseason play. On the year, the Lancers played 16 games against teams in the top 75 of the RPI and played the likes of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 9 Alabama, and No. 13 Virginia Tech.
However, no Power 5 matchups were more meaningful than Longwood’s games against No. 4 Florida State and No. 8 Duke, the first and second seeded teams headed into this week’s ACC championship.
In the team’s second game of the season, Longwood shocked the softball world by grabbing a 5-4 win over the fourth-ranked Seminoles. The win was the highest ranked win of any sport in Longwood history.
Two months later, the Lancers did it again, upsetting eighth-ranked Duke to claim their second top-ten win of the season. The win marked the first time that any team across all sports at Longwood has beaten two top-ten teams in one season.
A DANGEROUS TEAM
Not only were they a dangerous team out of conference, Dr. Brown’s Lancers were once again the top team in the Big South regular season standings. Longwood went 15-5 in conference, culminating with a 2-1 series win over Campbell to earn a share of the regular season title. They went to the Big South Championship but fell just short, losing 7-5 to Campbell on Saturday.
While Pone was Longwood’s only First-Team selection, five different Lancers were named to the Second-Team All-Conference.
Lauren Fox earned her first postseason distinction after having the best season of her career. The junior batted a career-best .315, posted a .981 fielding percentage and was third on the team with nine steals.
Fox was huge in Longwood’s first win over Upstate on 4/1, batting 3-4 while scoring a run. She hit .306 in conference and was a reliable option in the outfield and top of the order.
Senior Kelly Park found a home at the first base position this year. The senior finished second in the conference in catches and putouts with 344 and 323 respectively.
She was also one of Longwood’s strongest bats, hitting six home runs (including a Winthrop series where she homered in each game). Park was one of three Lancers to start and play in all 48 games. She hit .200 during the season and .273 in conference.
Alongside Park was shortstop and fellow senior Lauren Taylor, who earned her first All-Big South selection. The Mechanicsville native led the Lancers with 33 RBIs while batting a career-best .301.
Taylor is tied for second in home runs on the team with six, second in hits with 44, and second in stolen bases with ten. She was one of three players to start all 48 games this season and posted a team-high 101 assists on the year.
Joining the two senior infielders on the Second-Team is third baseman Korynna Anderson. The senior from Los Alamitos, California was second on Longwood with 97 assists and fourth on the team with 151 catches.
Anderson was also named to the Big South All-Academic team, posting a 3.86 GPA while majoring in Psychology. The senior is a one-time Dean’s List and President’s list selection since joining Longwood prior to the 2022 season.
Her batting numbers were also impressive, posting a .281 batting average with seven doubles and six home runs. She was fourth on team with 22 RBIs and third on the team with 39 hits. Anderson had 12 multi-hit days on the year, including a 3-4 day this past Sunday against Campbell to help the Lancers clinch the #1 seed in the Big South tournament.
Longwood’s final Second-Team All-Conference selection was freshman Maryanna Guy, who earned the utility spot. A three-time Big South Freshman of the Week selection, Guy was also one of two Lancers on the conference’s All-Freshman team.
Guy batted .329 on the year, second best on the team. She led the Lancers with seven home runs, including two in the regular-season deciding series against Campbell and two against ranked Virginia Tech. She was fifth in the Big South with a 1.009 OPS and leads Longwood with a .634 slugging percentage.
Maggie Chapin joins Guy on the conference’s All-Freshman team. The freshman from Shawnee, Kansas was one of Longwood’s top arms all season, pitching five complete games with four shutouts and a Big South second-lowest .204 batting average against.
In the first start of her career, Chapin threw four scoreless innings against No. 4 Florida State while holding the Seminoles without a hit. She leads Longwood in innings pitched with 109.1 and has allowed the third fewest hits (83) amongst eligible Big South pitchers.
Finally, rounding out Longwood’s postseason awards haul is pitcher Reggie Kanagawa, who earned a spot as a Big South Honorable Mention. The redshirt-senior from Blue Springs, Missouri posted the best season of her career with a team-best 2.38 ERA and 9-2 record. She leads Longwood with nine complete games and has two shutouts on the season.