After helping UCF to the program’s first regular season championship, junior third baseman Farrah Sullivan was honored as the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday night at the league’s awards banquet at the North Sheraton Hotel in Houston. The Knights were also acknowledged with the conference’s coaching staff of the year.
“I give this award to my teammates, because I would not be in this position without their support,” Sullivan said. “Playing well in conference play was my goal because those games are the important ones. I feel like it was great to be on base all the time and doing what I have to do to help us put runs on the board.”
Sullivan was also named to The American first team along with sophomore pitcher Shelby Turnier, while junior pitcher Mackenzie Audas, sophomore designated player Jessica Ujvari and freshman outfielder Linnea Goodman earned second team honors.
Sullivan’s player of the year honor was the first for the Knights’ program since Stephanie Best won three-straight Atlantic Sun awards from 2003-05. The Waynesboro, Miss., native compiled a .522 avg. during league play with 24 hits, 19 RBI, seven doubles and two homers.
“It just shows that when Farrah [Sullivan] puts her mind to something and is really focused, she is just unstoppable,” head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. “She has been improving all season long. The coaches of the conference recognized that and saw what she has given, not only to our program, but the American Athletic Conference. It just says a lot about the type of person and player she is.”
One of UCF’s EVERDAY CHAMPIONS overcame a 2-for-42 stretch early in the season to finish with a .321 avg. with three homers and paced the team in RBI (31) and doubles (13). The Knights three-hole hitter has compiled a .418 on-base and .482 slugging pct.
Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie along with assistant coaches Ruben Felix and Hillary Barrow used the long season to help the Knights young team progress into the regular season champion.
“Once the team bought into that we have to play as a team and fight for each other, we really saw a difference in the focus of our student-athletes,” Gillispie said. “We went from playing one-run games to posting seven runs on the board. That progress is what I am proud of. Our coaching staff did a great job of putting our players in a position to be successful.”
UCF, who was picked to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll, has an upper class that contains just four juniors and not a single senior. The Knights registered a 39-15 overall record and 15-3 conference mark, which included series victories over each conference foe they played (Temple series was cancelled due to rain).
This was the first time that Coach Gillispie received an individual postseason accolade since being named the 1992 N4C Conference Coach of the Year guiding Joliet (Ill.) Junior College.
Coach Felix took an offense that was batting .208 following the first 10 games and steadily raised the team’s average during the campaign by mentoring the hitters to a current .275. Coach Barrow, who won the 2008 C-USA Tournament as a player for the Knights, adds another pair of accomplishments with the program with a regular season title and coaching honor.
Joining Sullivan on the first team was Turnier, who paced the league with a 1.16 ERA and tallied 53 strikeouts in 48.1 innings of work. The Palm Beach Gardens native had a 6-2 league mark, while going 18-5 overall, fanning 193 in 144.0 frames and compiled a 1.26 ERA, ranking 13th nationally.
Turnier along with Audas, who was named to the league’s second team, were a big reason for the Knights posting the eighth-best ERA in the nation at 1.59. The pair combined for 380 of the team 434 strikeouts, which is second in the nation behind conference-rival USF.
Audas went 7-1 in league action with 49 strikeouts in 58 frames. The Plant City native picked up series-clinching wins over USF and Louisville. She tallied a 17-10 overall mark with 187 punchouts in 174.0 innings.
One of the Knights most consistent players was Goodman, who compiled a .313 avg. with 51 hits. The Long Beach, Calif., native drove in 14 runs. She increased her batting avg. in conference games to .362 and came around to score nine times.
Solidifying the middle of the UCF lineup was Je. Ujvari. The Pensacola native blasted five home runs on the season including grand slams in the Knights wins over Boston College and Louisville. She recorded a .333 avg. and finished second on the team with 23 RBI.
2014 American Athletic Conference Softball Awards
Player of the Year
Pitcher of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coaching Staff of the Year
All-Conference First Team
All-Conference Second Team