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Softball player and coaching staff recognized

2018-06-18-Softball-KyleeSmith
UNG rising junior Kylee Smith has been voted the 2018 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaching Association (NFCA) Division II National Player of the Year by the association office. She becomes the second Nighthawk to earn this distinction, joining inaugural winner Courtney Poole from 2015.

After an outstanding 2018 campaign, a University of North Georgia (UNG) softball pitcher and the team's coaching staff have earned top honors.

UNG rising junior Kylee Smith has been voted the 2018 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaching Association (NFCA) Division II National Player of the Year by the association office. She becomes the second Nighthawk to earn this distinction, joining inaugural winner Courtney Poole from 2015.

"I am extremely proud of what Kylee has accomplished on the field, but I am more proud of 'how' she does it and 'how' she represents the university and the North Georgia uniform," said Mike Davenport, head coach of UNG softball team. "This is a tremendous honor and she is very deserving of this award. Kylee represents what is good about college athletics. She is the consummate student-athlete on the field of play and in the classroom and represents our program and the university in the highest of standards. 

2018-06-18-Softball-Mike-Davenport

University of North Georgia's softball coaching staff also earned the NFCA Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year distinction. It is the first time since 2015 that the staff has earned the honor and fifth time overall. The head coach is Mike Davenport.

UNG's softball coaching staff also earned the NFCA Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year distinction. It is the first time since 2015 that the staff has earned the honor and fifth time overall.

"Coach Davenport and his staff have set the standard for not only softball in the southeast region, but in NCAA Division II as well," said Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics at UNG. "Our softball program exemplifies our core values — athletic achievement and academic excellence all while adding value to both the campus and local communities."

Smith, who is majoring in international affairs with a European concentration from Suwanee, Georgia, finished 2018 as the NCAA Division II leader in three categories, topping the charts with 36 victories, 338 strikeouts and a microscopic 0.59 ERA. She played a pivotal role in UNG's run to the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in Salem, Virginia. Smith allowed the second-fewest hits per seven innings (3.17), was third in strikeouts per seven innings (10.0) and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.51).

A two-time NFCA First-Team All-American, Smith held her opponents to a .137 batting average and walked just 45 batters in 236.1 innings of work. She was named Peach Belt Pitcher of the Year and was key to the Nighthawks collecting their fifth-straight PBC regular season and tournament titles, both conference records.

Smith's list of accolades continues to grow. Earlier this season, she was selected the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Ron Lenz Pitcher of the Year and named to the D2CCA First Team as well as the PBC All-Conference First Team and All-Academic Team. Smith was a five-time PBC Pitcher of the Week and National Pitcher of the Week once this year and was named to the NCAA Division II Championship All-Tournament Team.

The NFCA Player of the Year award was created in 2015 to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among softball student-athletes throughout Division II. Smith is only the fourth recipient of the award, joining Poole, Wayne State University's Lyndsay Butler and Minnesota State's Coley Ries.

On the coaching side, the Nighthawks swept through Southeast Regional and Super Regional tournaments and finished 6-2 in NCAA postseason play after making the program's first appearance in the final eight since winning the National Championship in 2015.

UNG finished with a program-record 62 wins and the most victories across all three NCAA divisions and NAIA. The senior class of Sydney Sprague and Brittany Gilliam went 110-17 the past two seasons while winning the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament championships for the fifth consecutive season.

Head coach Mike Davenport was named Peach Belt Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career in 2018. He was assisted by Sage Woodham as well as graduate assistants Molly Child and Meagan May and student assistants Jessica Finch and Hayley Robinson.

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