College Sports

Brown, Null and Smith tabbed as Southland Conference honorable mentions

ABILENE, Texas - Abilene Christian softball players Taylor Brown, Hannah Null and Lyndi Smith Tuesday were named Southland Conference honorable mentions in a vote of the league's head coaches and sports information directors.

The conference honors are firsts for freshmen Brown and Null and the third in as many years for Smith, who was second team all-Lone Star Conference in 2013 and third team all-LSC in 2012.

Smith, a senior from Uvalde, Texas, enjoyed one her finest seasons as a first-year NCAA DI student-athlete, hitting .344 with a career-season high 13 home runs and a Southland Conference best 50 RBI. She also finished the regular season tied for sixth in the league with 36 runs, second with 103 total bases, and fourth with a .656 slugging percentage.

Smith's season totals give her a career batting average of .342, plus 143 RBI and 37 home runs - one shy of tying Katie Bryan's varsity record of 38, which she hit from 2002-05.

One of Smith's best individual performances came during an 18-8 win on April 26 against Houston Baptist, during which she went 4-for-5 with four runs, five RBI and nine total bases as she ripped two doubles and a two-run home run. 

Overall, Smith had 13 multi-hit games to finish third on ACU behind Brown and Madison Buckley, but had twice as many multi-RBI games as any of her teammates, finishing with 14.

A true utility player who spent 28 games as a catcher, 14 at first base and six as the designated player, Smith's numbers in 20 starts against the Southland included a .354 batting average, .692 slugging percentage, 19 runs, nine extra-base hits (six home runs) and 24 RBI.

Brown, a freshman from Richland Hills, Texas, appeared in 48 of 49 games and led the Wildcats with a .383 batting average (sixth in the conference) and .428 on-base percentage after finishing the season on a six-game hitting streak. She also was tops on the team with 36 hits and three triples, and ranked among the Southland Conference leaders with 15 stolen bases on 16 attempts (.938).

Five of her stolen bases came during a March 12 game at Prairie View A&M, which established a new ACU single-game record. The previous record of three was shared by former Wildcats Shawna Barrow, Chantiel McDonnell and Nikki Henderson.

Brown's additional single-game highs include four runs vs. the Panthers, plus three hits (5x) and two RBI (7x). 

Through 20 conference games, Brown hit .365 (23-for-63), scored 21 runs, clubbed seven extra-base hits and drove in 13. 

As the Wildcats' everyday left fielder, Brown only made two errors on 49 attempts and was credited with a team-high five outfield assists, including three putouts at home plate vs. Lamar, Sam Houston State and Incarnate Word.

Null, a freshman from Highland Village, Texas, finished as the Wildcats' leader in most pitching categories and ended up fourth in the Southland Conference with 152 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA, and fifth with 11 victories. She also pitched the sixth-most innings with 150.1, ranked ninth with 30 appearances and 21 starts (13 complete games), third with four shutouts, and seventh with a .248 opponents' batting average.

During a March 25 contest vs. Hardin-Simmons, Null set the program single-game record for strikeouts with 17, and on Feb. 28 vs. Rhode Island she tossed the seventh no-hitter in ACU softball history. 

Null dominated the Rams, striking out seven, while allowing just one walk and hitting one batter on her way to ACU's first no-hitter since Rebecca Eldridge threw one against Cameron on March 28, 2000. Other Wildcats to throw a no-hitter include Shelly Owen (four no-hitters combined in 1997 and 1998) and Amanda Cobb (one in 1999).

Against the Cowgirls, Null fanned at least two batters in five separate innings, struck out the side in the second, and eclipsed Jennifer Leal's eight-year old school record in the seventh with a rare four-strikeout inning as HSU's No. 6 batter Sarah Truelove led off by reaching on a dropped third strike.

Lauren Williams was Null's 15th strikeout victim and Carol Swindell went down swinging as Null tied Leal's mark from a 2006 game vs. New Mexico Highlands. And for the record-breaking 17th strikeout, right fielder Katelyn Joyner swung and missed on all three pitches she saw. 

Null's 17Ks were the most by any Southland Conference pitcher this season. She also had 10 or more strikeouts in games against Prairie View A&M (Feb. 23 and March 11), and Texas A&M Corpus Christi (March 29).

Null beat the Islanders twice in one weekend, and in her follow-up appearance at Stephen F. Austin on April 5, she tossed a career high 10.0 innings in a 4-3 victory over the Ladyjacks. She later tossed a complete-game in a 3-2 win vs. Lamar (April 12) and won a game in relief against Houston Baptist (April 26).

Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics.

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