Darton State dominates Region XVII softball awards

Darton State coach Eric Neel, catcher Emily Church take highest awards

Eric Neel

Eric Neel


Emily Church

The Darton State College softball team struck gold Monday with the announcement of the All-Region XVII team and postseason awards.

Darton catcher Emily Church was named the Region MVP, coach Eric Neel was named the Coach of the Year and six Lady Cavs made up almost half of the All-Region First Team.

The Lady Cavs won the region tournament on Saturday, clinching both their 19th straight victory and a trip to next month’s NJCAA national tournament. Darton, which is ranked 13th in the nation, will enter nationals with a 45-10 record in Neel’s first year with the program.

Church is tied for fifth in the nation with 18 home runs and ranks 13th with 73 RBIs. The freshman from Ragland (Ala.) High School also has a .367 batting average, .767 slugging percentage and 18 stolen bases.

Earning First-Team honors along with Church were infielder Jordan Allen, outfielder Sierra Newman, outfielder Nicole McInerney, pitcher Sommar Wright and utility player Melissa Dearth. Darton’s Bree Wells and Jostlyn Higgerson were named Second Team All-Region.

Four Lady Cavs were also named to the All-Tournament team after finishing the region tourney 3-0. Higgerson was named the tournament MVP, while Allen, Wright and Newman gave Darton four representatives on the 11-player All-Tournament team.