Photos Courtesy of Matt Jones
BURLINGTON, N.C. – Three members of the Lees-McRae College softball team received All-Conference Carolinas recognition Thursday evening at the league banquet. Senior Kara Cunningham was named the Conference Carolinas Player of the Year and to the All-Conference Carolinas Second Team as a pitcher. Fellow senior Emily Merriam was the All-Conference Carolinas First Team honoree at Designated Player, while freshman Faith Cooke received All-Conference Carolinas Second Team honors at third base.
Cunningham, who was also an All-Conference Carolinas Second Team selection last season, is the first ever Lees-McRae softball player to take home the Conference Carolinas Player of the Year award. It is a well-deserved honor for the senior from Indian Trail, North Carolina as she led the team in hitting (.420 batting average) and paced the Bobcat pitching staff in every statistical category. This honor is the latest for Cunningham as she holds several records in the program's record book both as a pitcher and offensively to go along with four conference pitcher of the week awards and Lees-McRae's first no-hitter since 2006.
Merriam definitely saved her best for her final season in a Bobcat uniform. The senior from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina becomes the program's first All-Conference Carolinas First Team representative since 2014 after setting new career-bests hitting .340 with three home runs and 14 RBI this spring. In 19 games played, Merriam has seven multi-hit performances. Merriam has been especially good down the stretch hitting an impressive .526 (10-for-19) in the month of April.
Cooke made an immediate impact in her first season with the program. Cooke is the first freshman from Lees-McRae to receive All-Conference honors since Karli Robb received first team honors back in 2011. The freshman third baseman hit .383 while leading the team with eight home runs and 28 RBI during the regular season.
The Bobcats will open the Conference Carolinas Tournament Friday morning when they take on Mount Olive in the opening round. First pitch for that game is set for 11 a.m. from Burlington's Springwood Park Complex.