The Valdosta Daily Times
Courtney Albritton terrorized the Gulf South Conference as a freshman in 2012. She did it again in 2013.
The sophomore from Sycamore was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year Wednesday, an honor that was bestowed upon her as a freshman for the Valdosta State softball team last year.
Albritton becomes the first player to win back-to-back Player of the Year honors since 2007-08.
The former center fielder for the Blazers who has played shortstop and second base this season hit .411 with a league-high 57 runs scored, 16 home runs, 126 total bases and a .797 slugging percentage. She is also among the league leaders in several major offensive categories, including runs batted in (44), on-base percentage (.457), hits (65) and doubles (13).
Albritton’s Player of the Year honors came on the same day the All-GSC teams were announced. Albritton was joined on the first team by shortstop Shelby Altman, who started the season in centerfield, and left fielder Morgan Johnson, this week’s Player of the Week.
Senior Ashley Steinhilber was one of three Blazers named to the second team. Pitcher Brianna Hancock and first baseman Kiley Rusen were also named to the second team.
Alabama-Huntsville’s Kimberly Jack was named the Pitcher and Freshman of the Year in the conference, becoming the first UAH pitcher to win the top pitcher award since 2009. UAH head coach Les Stuedeman was named the GSC’s Coach of the Year, her fifth honor in the last six years.
Alabama-Huntsville is the conference’s top seed heading into this weekend’s tournament in Southaven, Miss. Valdosta State is the No. 2.
The Blazers face seven seed Christian Brothers in the first round Friday at noon, and will play either North Alabama or Delta State in the second round.
Valdosta State is in prime position to host the South Region tournament again this year, pending a solid performance in the GSC tournament this weekend.
The Blazers, who are 37-9 against Division II competition and ranked fourth nationally, took over the top spot in the latest South Region rankings, released Wednesday. Alabama-Huntsville (34-13), the No. 1 seed in the GSC tournament, is ranked second and North Alabama (38-16) is third.
Tampa (29-8), Saint Leo (38-14), Rollins (44-8), West Alabama (29-16) and Barry (29-17) round out the top eight. Palm Beach Atlantic (22-20) and Albany State (30-21) are ranked ninth and 10th, respectively.
The top eight teams from the region qualify for the tournament, which is separated into two locations. Automatic bids are handed out to the champions of the Gulf South Conference, Sunshine State Conference and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which currently does not have a team ranked inside the top eight.
The top two seeds in the final rankings will serve as hosts of the region tournament, which is double elimination. The two teams that win the sub-region tournaments advance to the Super Regional, hosted at the higher seeded teams home stadium, for a best two-of-three series.