Light named pitcher of the year, six Tornado earn all-conference honors
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University softball team may have come up just short of their second consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season title, but the Tornado had six players honored by the league when they handed out their all-conference awards at a banquet on Thursday night. Hannah Light headlined this group, being named the league's pitcher of the year for the second consecutive season. Fallon Thomas, Tori McComas and Cassie Ringstaff all joined Light on the all-conference first team while Hannah Smith and Samantha Cole garnered second team honors.
For the second consecutive year, Light has been named Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year after leading the league in strikeouts and victories both seasons. This year, the senior has been nothing short of impressive, leading the Tornado to a second place finish in the Conference Carolinas regular season. In the national rankings, Light was ranked in the top three (all divisions) in strikeouts the majority of the season, and is ranked seventh in NCAA Division II with 245 punch outs before the beginning of the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
The Coeburn, Va., native may have gotten off to a slow start, but she led King on a 10-game winning streak, earning wins in the circle each game. For the season she has an overall record of 25-16 while going 11-4 in league play. Light ranks fourth in the league with an earned run average of 1.89, and her 25 wins rank second in all of NCAA Division II. She has appeared in all but five of King's 50 games, starting 42 games for the Tornado. Light was named Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week five times during the regular season.
Thomas, a fellow senior, earns first team honors after earning second team recognition a season ago. The Bristol, Va., native ranks among the league's leaders in numerous offensive categories. Her 27 runs batted in and five home runs both are third in the conference and she ranks seventh with 26 runs and ninth with 42 hits. She also showed to have a good eye at the plate, drawing 20 walks to rank third in the conference. Thomas's 26 runs also led the Tornado. She has also accumulated 67 total bases which is fourth in Conference Carolinas. Thomas started the season as King's right fielder, but due to injuries, she was moved to catcher down the stretch, and her fielding percentage of .984 is second among Tornado.
Another senior, Ringstaff repeated as a first team all-conference member this season after finishing second in the league in stolen bases. The Richlands, Va., native has been solid on defense all season at both second and third base for the Tornado. Offensively, Ringstaff hit .263 and went 18-for-20 on stolen base attempts. Her nine sacrifice hits ranked fifth in the league, and her 24 runs ranked ninth in the conference and second on the team. Ringstaff was one of four King players that registered at least 40 hits with 41.
During her junior season, McComas earns first team all-conference for the first time. McComas, who hails from Duffield, Va., started the season as King's every day second baseman, but due to injuries she made the seamless transition to shortstop. In conference play she posted a batting average of .327 with three doubles and nine runs scored. Overall, she scored 14 runs for the Tornado while collecting 36 hits.
King's primary catcher, Smith earns second team all-conference for the first time following her sophomore season. A Bristol, Va., native, Smith has been a mainstay in the middle of the Tornado lineup as her 42 hits rank second on the team and ninth in the league. Her 23 runs batted was good enough for ninth in the league and second among Tornado behind Thomas' 27. Smith was second on the team with a .284 batting average and three home runs. Smith also showed great patience at the plate, ranking sixth in the league, and second on the team with 16 walks.
Cole was impressive in her freshman season in the Scarlet and Navy, earning second team all-conference honors. The Coeburn, Va., native was injured for the second half of the league schedule, but she had an impressive first half to the season, hitting .333 in conference play. In 10 conference games, Cole registered 10 hits, including a double and scored six runs while driving in five.
The Tornado open play in the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Friday when they face Barton College at 1:00 p.m., in Burlington, N.C.