Taylor, Sacco named C-USA’s best

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

A couple of first year members of the Louisiana Tech softball program came away with specialty awards as Josh Taylor was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year while outfielder Sierra Sacco was named the Freshman of the Year by a vote of the league coaches.

Sacco joined shortstop Amanda Gonzalez and pitcher Audrey Pickett as first team all-conference selections while outfielder Madie Green, catcher Brooke Diaz and DP Kylie Neel were named second team selections.

The total of six all-conference selections are the second most in program history, trailing only the seven selections in 2019.

Tech’s six selections on the first and second teams were the most of any program while Marshall had five and North Texas, Charlotte and WKU each had four.

Taylor joins Mark Montgomery (2019) as the only two Lady Techster head coaches to earn COY honors after guiding the program to a 38-18 record and a Conference USA regular season title in only his first year in Ruston. Taylor inherited a team that was picked seventh in the preseason coaches poll (with no preseason all-conference selections) and recorded a 28-game turnaround from last year.

Sacco became just the third player in Lady Techster history to earn the Freshman of the Year Award, joining Anna Cross (2013 Western Athletic Conference) and Lindsay Edwards (2019 C-USA). The Marrero, Louisiana, native ranked among the nation’s leaders in hits (77), batting average (.430), on-base percentage (.526) and stolen bases (25) while totaling 50 runs scored and 19 RBI.

Gonzaelez earned first team honors after a season that saw her hit .363 with 57 hits, 9 doubles, 4 triples and 7 home runs while scoring 33 runs, recording 28 RBI and stealing 8 bases. She led Conference USA in assists with 158. She ranked among the team leaders in multi-hit games and multi-RBI contests.

Pickett recorded one of the best pitching performances in the last two-plus decades, posting a 24-5 record in the circle with a 2.33 earned run average. She made 31 starts recording 25 complete games and worked 201.1 innings. She threw five complete-game shutouts this season while totaling 105 strikeouts.

Diaz earned her second team honors after catching in 51 of 56 games for Tech (missing five games with a concussion). The Eagle Pass, Texas, native batted .301 with 46 hits, 9 doubles and 7 home runs while recording 37 RBI and scoring 16 runs. Behind the plate, she ranked among the league leaders in throwing out base runners with 14 caught stealings on the year.

Green was arguably Tech’s top hitter during Conference USA action, belting 9 of her team-high 12 home runs in league play while driving in 25 of her 37 runs. On the season she hit .312 with 39 hits, 9 doubles, 12 home runs, 31 runs scored and tied Diaz with a team-high 37 RBI. She also led the Lady Techsters with a .672 slugging percentage.

Neel earned second team accolades after coming on strong during the final month of the regular season. She batted .298 with six doubles, two triples and one home run while scoring 14 runs and registering 12 RBI. She was named the Conference USA Hitter of the Week following a three-game sweep over Middle Tennessee.

The Lady Techsters will open play at the C-USA Tournament Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

1st Team All-Conference

C         Stacy Payton, Charlotte 

C         Sierra Frazier, UAB 

INF     Kat Ibarra, UTSA 

INF     Riley Grunberg, UTSA 

INF     Alyssa ‘Tata’ Davis, Southern Miss 

INF      Amanda Gonzalez, Louisiana Tech six

INF     Aly Harrell, Marshall 

INF     Kailey Gamble, North Texas 

OF       Destini Brown, Southern Miss 

OF       Sierra Sacco, Louisiana Tech 

OF       Bailey Vannoy, Charlotte 

OF       Sara Berthiaume, Florida Atlantic 

DP/UT Paige Pye, Marshall 

P          Shelby Nunn, WKU 

P          Sydney Nester, Marshall 

P          Audrey Pickett, LA Tech 

2nd Team All-Conference: 

C         Randi Drinnon, WKU 

C         Brooke Diaz, LA Tech 

INF     Ella Chancey, Charlotte 

INF     Autumn Owen, Marshall 

INF     Laura Mealer, Middle Tennessee 

INF     Taylor Sanders, WKU 

INF     MeKayla Frazier, Charlotte 

 OF      Madie Green, LA Tech 

OF       Mya Stevenson, Marshall 

OF       Lexi Cobb, North Texas 

OF       Taylor Davis, WKU 

DP/UT     Kylie Neel, Louisiana Tech 

P          Lynn Gardner, Florida Atlantic 

P          Skylar Savage, North Texas

P          Ashley Peters, North Texas 

All-Freshman Team

Ella Chancey, Charlotte 

Sierra Sacco, Louisiana Tech 

Anyce Harvey, Middle Tennessee 

Laura Mealer, Middle Tennessee 

Cierra Simon, North Texas 

Skylar Savage, North Texas 

Jana Lee, Southern Miss 

Emily Dear, UTSA 

Camryn Robillard, UTSA 

Lindsey Smith, UAB 

Randi Drinnon, WKU 

Player of The Year: Bailey Vannoy, Charlotte 

Pitcher of The Year: Sydney Nester, Marshall 

Freshman of the Year: Sierra Sacco, Louisiana Tech 

Newcomer of the Year: Sydney Nester, Marshall 

Coach of the Year: Josh Taylor, Louisiana Tech 

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