Hudson, Coltharp earn top SoCon honors
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (UTC Athletics) — Junior Celie Hudson and freshman shortstop Emily Coltharp have been tabbed the Southern Conference’s Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, respectively, leading the Chattanooga Mocs softball team to 10 total all-conference selections, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
Hudson is the first Chattanooga pitcher to earn SoCon Pitcher of the Year since Brook Loudermilk in 2008 and the 10th in program history. Hudson finished the regular season 13-9 with a 1.93 ERA in a team-high 151.2 innings, firing 17 complete games and five shutouts.
“Reflecting on Celie as pitcher of the year, we watched her come in and work through an injury just to try and help us out late in her freshman season,” said head coach Frank Reed. “Just to work through all of that and get to the point where she can be the pitcher of the year in this conference speaks volumes about her and what kind of person she is. The efforts she has put forth has been incredible to watch.”
Coltharp is the seventh Moc to be named the top SoCon freshman since 1994 and is the first since Michelle Fuzzard (LaCourse) in 2008. Coltharp finished third in the SoCon regular season batting race with a .355 average, the top mark among all freshmen. She tied a program record with five hits, including a walk-off winner, during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Samford.
“Emily came in, and like many freshmen across the country, not knowing what her role would be and how she would fit into the system. We challenged her early to step up and be that person for us at shortstop, and she has done that and more,” said Reed. “She’s continuing to grow and work hard as a shortstop. She is becoming something everyone wants at that position and capped off her great regular season with a walk-off hit. That speaks volumes about her as well.”
Senior Emma Sturdivant (1B) joined Hudson and Coltharp on the All-SoCon First Team, her second first team honor of her career. Sturdivant batted a blistering .349 with three homeruns and 35 RBI while finishing with a .985 fielding percentage in 340 total chances.
“Emma is a lot like Celie, coming in as a freshman and dealing with some immediate injuries. It’s very hard on any athlete to sit back and watch everyone else play. She worked through it that year, came back the following year and made a presence at a first base. She secured her spot with great defense and timely hitting, and that’s something that hasn’t left over the last three seasons. We’re really proud of everything Emma has done for us,” added Reed.
The Mocs placed five student-athletes on the second team, most in program history. Mariah Ramirez (P), Amanda Beltran (C), Hayleigh Weissenbach (OF), Aly Walker (DP) and Morgan Kazerooni (UTL) all earned spots after their play this season.
“We’re happy for all the second team selections, I don’t know how you determine who is a first team and who is second when you see this list. They’re all very deserving of their honors,” Reed said.
Walker finished second in the SoCon this season with a .364 average, setting a new single season career-high. In addition to batting average, she led the team in runs (32), doubles (11), walks (23) and on-base percentage (.464).
“Aly Walker has worked so hard and has led this team in hitting the last three years. It just shows you the type of kid she is and the type of work ethic she has to get better.
“She always wants to do what is best for the team and this year, we figured that would be in the DP position, and she has embraced it. The preseason player of the year, she has put up the numbers to be the postseason player of the year too. I can’t say enough about her and how proud we are of her,” added Reed.
Beltran set single season career-highs after batting .333 with 11 homeruns and 39 RBI this year. She moved into a tie for third all-time at UTC with 25 career homeruns and is now second all-time in runners caught stealing with 28 career after registering a career-high 13 in 2019. Ramirez finished the regular season with a 12-2 record and a 2.59 ERA in 97.1 innings this season. She was the last freshman standing among all NCAA DI to hold a 10+ win and 0-loss record before dropping her first contest.
Weissenbach picks up her second All-SoCon honor of her career after being placed on the all-freshman team in 2017. She batted .282 with five doubles and 15 RBI while tripling twice and homering once during the regular season. Kazerooni has produced a stellar season in the utility role, batting .273 with four homeruns and 14 RBI in 58 plate appearances. Three of her four homeruns came during a pinch-hit at-bat with two of them going as three-run blasts.
Coltharp and Ramirez rounded out the team’s 10 total selections after being selected to the all-freshman team. UTC has now had a representative on the all-rookie team for the fifth-straight season.
“One of the things we stressed this year was that it’s a team effort. We always talk about it after a win and how that it was a team win. These awards are no different, in that it was a team effort. We’re really excited and proud of all our award winners,” added Reed.
No. 3 Chattanooga will take on No. 6 Furman on Wednesday, May 8, at 3 p.m. inside Jim Frost Stadium during the opening round of the Southern Conference Championships.