BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference has announced Georgia head softball coach Lu Harris-Champer the 2018 SEC Coach of the Year. Four Bulldog student-athletes earned All-SEC honors including three First Team selections, the league announced Tuesday.
Pitcher Brittany Gray, infielder Alyssa DiCarlo, and outfielder Cortni Emanuel earned First Team All-SEC accolades while infielder Justice Milz earned Second Team honors.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the coaches in the SEC – I have so much respect for each of them for the way their teams compete and the excellence they bring to the sport we love,” Harris-Champer said. “Crew 22’s determination, hard work, and mindset is a joy to work with every day. It has been a blessing to coach alongside the great minds of Tony Baldwin, Rachele Fico, and Brock Van Faussien. Together, they embody the goal of our program to grow strong, confident young women. Simply put, I love Crew 22.”
Harris-Champer, who wins her third SEC Coach of the Year honor (2003, 2005) guided the Bulldogs to a 43-10 regular-season record, finishing second in the SEC with a 16-8 clip. Georgia’s second-place exceeded expectations as the Bulldogs were picked to finish ninth in the Preseason Poll, finishing in last place a season ago. Georgia won seven of eight conference series including wins over then #2 Florida, #7 Tennessee, and #17 Alabama. The Bulldogs opened the season 26-1, the best start in school history, including a 25-game winning streak to tie the program record. 2018 is the 16th 40-win season under Harris-Champer. Georgia’s 16 SEC wins are the most since 2012 (17). The Bulldogs are expected to make their 17th-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance this month.
For the fourth time in her career, Emanuel earns All-SEC honors. She was honored on the All-Freshman Team in 2015, Second Team in 2016, then First Team a season ago. Emanuel leads the conference this season batting .443 while also leading in hits (82) and ranking third in runs scored (58). In her senior season, she has swiped an SEC-best 47 bags. It’s the third time in her career she has cracked Georgia’s single-season top-10 list in the category. In her career, Emanuel is one of only three Georgia Bulldogs to record 300 hits in her career, ranking second all-time with 322. She also ranks third with 216 runs scored. She ranks second in career stolen bases with 166 behind Nicole Barber’s 257.
DiCarlo picks up All-SEC honors for the third time in a Bulldog uniform (First Team, All-Freshman in 2016; Second Team in 2017). is batting .369 while slugging .769. She has driven in 58 runs including knocking 14 doubles and 16 home runs. She has recorded 123 total bases during her junior campaign. In the league, DiCarlo ranks third in slugging and eighth in RBI. She comes in at second in home runs. Her run production ranks fifth in the country while her 16 home runs rank eighth.
Despite suffering a season-ending injury, Gray’s spectacular senior season landed her a spot on the First Team All-SEC roster, the first All-SEC honor of her career. She went 16-1 in the circle with a 0.48 ERA with 134 strikeouts. Her 2018 ERA qualified for the best single-season ERA at Georgia. She earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors to begin the 2018 season. In her career, she ranks fifth in wins (60), ERA (2.06), and appearances (126) while coming in sixth in strikeouts (495), games started (84), shutouts (22.5), and innings pitched (518.2).
Milz, a sophomore, lands a spot on the Second Team, her first All-SEC honor. She has started all 53 games at second base this season. At the plate, she’s batting .364, scattering 60 hits including 11 doubles and 12 home runs with 52 runs batted in. She’s slugging .648 with a .434 on-base clip.
Georgia will open SEC Tournament play Thursday at 2:30 p.m., EDT, against the winner between Arkansas and Kentucky. The Bulldogs will carry the #2 seed in the tournament.