Mizzou's Chelsea Thomas named SEC Softball Pitcher of the Year

From the Southeastern Conference

The Southeastern Conference announced its annual softball awards to cap the 2013 season and kick off the SEC Softball Tournament in Lexington, Ky., May 8-11. The All-SEC Teams consist of 24 total student-athletes, along with a 12-member All-Freshman team and a nine-member All-Defensive Team. No ties were broken. The University of Tennessee's Lauren Gibson was named Player of the Year while the University of Missouri's Chelsea Thomas earned Pitcher of the Year honors. University of Florida's Tim Walton was selected as Coach of the Year while Freshman of the Year honors went to LSU's Bianka Bell and University of Georgia's Geri Ann Glasco. Jenna Marston (Missouri) was voted Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The awards were voted on by the league's head coaches.

Gibson becomes the third Tennessee player to earn Player of the Year honors and the first since Tonya Callahan received the honor in 2008. She had 12 home runs in conference play, tops in the league, and led the SEC in batting average (.448), slugging percentage (1.060), runs scored (26) and runs batted in (36). Gibson is a Top 25 finalist for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, ranks top-10 in the nation in RBI's, slugging percentage and runs per game and was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week on April 23 after setting a school record and tying an SEC record with three home runs in a game vs. Ole Miss.

Thomas led Missouri in the circle with a 13-4 mark and 1.70 earned run average in league play, putting her first and second in the league in those categories, respectively. She started a league-high 19 conference games, held opponents to a .176 batting average in league play and ranks 11th in the NCAA in ERA. The senior was named a Top 25 finalist for the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award earlier this season.

Walton received Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Gators to their fourth league title in school history, the third under Walton, and sixth SEC Eastern Division banner. Florida posted an 18-6 SEC record and a 49-7 overall mark this season and ranks second in the nation in RPI. This is the fourth Coach of the Year honor for Walton. He previously earned the honor in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Bell paced LSU with a team-leading 12 home runs and 47 RBI's. The 12 homers are tied for third-most in program history for a single season, while the 47 RBI's are the third-most by a freshman. She was a a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree, batted .356 with five HRs and 18 RBI's in SEC play and has been involved in 34 percent of LSU's runs scored in SEC play. Glasco had 11 home runs and slugged .776 in conference play and tied an SEC record with three home runs in a game on April 15 vs. South Carolina. She became the first Georgia player to earn National Player of the Week honors twice in the same season after taking the NFCA and USA Softball weekly honors on March 26 and April 16, respectively.

Marston has a 3.99 cumulative GPA as an Industrial Engineering major at Mizzou. She earned Capital One First Team Academic All‐American recognition as a junior last season and received Capital One Academic All-District honors three times in her career. Marston was a First Team Academic All-Big 12 honoree in 2011 and 2012. She batted .371 and had a team-high 18 runs and 26 hits in league play.

2013 SEC Softball Awards

Player of the Year

Lauren Gibson, Tennessee

Pitcher of the Year

Chelsea Thomas, Missouri

Coach of the Year

Tim Walton, Florida

Freshman of the Year

Bianka Bell, LSU; Geri Ann Glasco, Georgia

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Jenna Marston, Missouri

First Team All-SEC

P - Chelsea Thomas, Missouri

P - Hannah Rogers, Florida

IF - Lauren Gibson, Tennessee

IF - Raven Chavanne, Tennessee

IF - Madison Shipman, Tennessee

IF - Paige Wilson, Georgia

OF - Kayla Braud, Alabama

OF - Kat Dotson, Tennessee

OF - Kaylee Puailoa, Georgia

OF - A.J. Andrews, LSU

C - Jenna Marston, Missouri

DP/U - Lauren Haeger, Florida

Second Team All-SEC

P - Rachele Fico, LSU

P - Kimmy Beasley, Arkansas

IF - Samie Garcia, South Carolina

IF - Kelsey Stewart, Florida

IF - Bianka Bell, LSU

IF - Kaila Hunt, Alabama

OF - Haylie McCleney, Alabama

OF - Kelsey Horton, Florida

OF - Branndi Melero, Auburn

OF - Jacee Blades, LSU

C - Griffin Joiner, Kentucky

DP/U - Mel Dumezich, Texas A&M

Freshman All-SEC

P - Kelsey Nunley, Kentucky

P - Chelsea Wilkinson, Georgia

IF - Kelsey Stewart, Florida

IF - Bianka Bell, LSU

IF - Geri Ann Glasco, Georgia

IF - Emily Carosone, Auburn

OF - Haylie McCleney, Alabama

OF - Kaylee Puailoa, Georgia

OF - Kristi Merritt, Florida

OF - Andrea Hawkins, Alabama; Tiffany Howard, Auburn

C - Kellsi Kloss, LSU

DP/U - Cali Lanphear, Texas A&M

SEC All-Defensive

P - Chelsea Thomas, Missouri

C - Griffin Joiner, Kentucky

1B - Morgan Estell, Auburn

2B - Lauren Gibson, Tennessee

SS - Madison Shipman, Tennessee

3B - Raven Chavanne, Tennessee

LF - Kayla Braud, Alabama

CF - Haylie McCleney, Alabama

RF - Kat Dotson, Tennessee