Hucklebee, Richardson garner top SAC honors as LMU softball hauls in eight accolades

Published 1:39 pm Thursday, April 25, 2019

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Lincoln Memorial University softball team’s historic season hasn’t gone unnoticed. It showed in the All-South Atlantic Conference teams, which were released by the league officials Thursday, as the Lady Railsplitters hauled in eight awards.

Of those, Sierra Hucklebee was tabbed SAC Freshman of the Year while Ritchie Richardson was named Coach of the Year to become the first individuals to receive those honors since LMU joined the SAC in 2007.

On the All-SAC first team for the third consecutive year was Ty-Kella Goins. Emma Webb garnered All-SAC second team accolades and Grace Cochran, Kelsie Hocutt, McKenzie Henry and Hucklebee were all slated as All-SAC honorable mentions.

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This group of Lady Railsplitters have helped pace LMU (34-12) to a long list of firsts for the softball program this season, including appearing in the national poll and regional rankings as Lincoln Memorial currently sits at No. 24 and No. 2, respectively.

LMU’s 34 wins marks its first 30-win season since 2013 when that current team finished 30-22. This year’s team wrapped up 12-8, which was the best conference finish since 2014. The 12 wins this season placed the Lady Railsplitters at No. 1 after they used a regular-season doubleheader finale sweep of Catawba to win their first-ever SAC title outright.

All of these feats have come under the direction of second-year LMU head coach Richardson, who is not new to the growing process as he won his 1,000th victory in LMU’s first-ever sweep of Lenoir-Rhyne April 13 and has completely flipped the credibility for the Lady Railsplitter softball program.

Richardson brought in players like Hucklebee to help change the culture and her SAC Freshman of the Year honor speaks to how she did just that. The shortstop from Gibbs High School in Corryton, Tenn. has been a force in every facet for the Lady Railsplitters.

Hitting in the No. 2 hole, Hucklebee, who was also an All-SAC honorable mention, has busted 15 doubles — 11 coming in conference play — while hitting .345 and having a .599 slugging percentage on the season. She was also named Astroturf SAC Player of the Week once and was a perfect 9-for-9 on the bases, showing off her wheels.

In conference play, Hucklebee had the gas on the pedal at all times, hitting .324 with a .372 on-base percentage and .521 slugging percentage while striking out just 11 times in 142 at-bats. Her .345 batting average is a team-third best as are her 35 RBI, 49 hits and 37 runs scored, while her 15 doubles rank second and her three triples is tied for first and five home runs are tied for third-team best.

Knotted with Hucklebee with five homers and three triples — plus with 17 walks apiece — is the All-SAC first team member Goins. As mentioned above, this high honor isn’t a new one to the now three-time All-SAC first team second baseman from Ramseur, N.C.

The speedy Goins is more than deserving as she leads the conference and Division II players with her 21 doubles, with 12 of those coming in SAC play. Starting in all 46 games, the lead-off hitter paced the team with her .381 batting average, .652 slugging percentage and .453 on-base percentage, while hitting a dazzling .347 in conference paired with a .410 on-base percentage and .639 slugging percentage.

The junior, who had just two errors in 100 putouts and 63 assists for a .988 fielding percentage, also leads the Lady Railsplitters in runs scored (46), hits (59) and total bases (101), while being nearly perfect on the bases (9-for-10).

Webb, a Knoxville, Tenn. native, garners her first All-SAC honors in her second team plaudit. The third baseman has had a standout sophomore campaign as she hit a sizzling .418 in conference play, while sitting second among her team with a .378 batting average.

Webb also used a .582 slugging percentage and .466 on-base percentage against SAC opponents, batting in 12 of her 21 RBI and smacking eight of her third-team best 13 doubles. Appearing in all but two games, Webb was second in hits (54) and fourth in runs scored (32), and also had a key solo home run in conference play while stealing one base (1-for-1) and having just three errors in 51 putouts and 71 assists for a .979 fielding percentage to receive All-SAC honors.

It’s these All-SAC Lady Railsplitters that will now take their historic season into the SAC Softball Championship, attempting to bring home LMU’s first-ever SAC Tournament title. The journey will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the SAC Softball Championships being played at Whitley Softball Field in Salisbury, N.C. as No. 1 LMU faces No. 8 Lenoir-Rhyne.