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COLLEGE SOFTBALL: Berry sweeps major postseason awards, begins conference tournament

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Berry Vikings

In exclusive voting by head coaches of the Southern Athletic Association, the Berry College softball team swept the major all-conference awards and had six Vikings named to the All-SAA first team.

Berry head coach Cori Thiermann was named the SAA Coach of the Year for the second time in a row, while Kassie Howard earned the second SAA Pitcher of the Year honor of her career.

The duo was accompanied by both Bayleigh Masterson, who was named SAA Newcomer of the Year, and Kylie Aiken, who was named SAA Player of the Year. It’s the first time in program history the Vikings have swept all four major conference awards.

Elisabeth Federici, Brittany Tuttle and Shelby Daniel joined Howard, Aiken and Masterson on the All-SAA first team for Berry. Brooke Whittemore earned the sole SAA second team nod, and Makenzie Flynt rounded out accolades as an honorable mention.

It’s Thiermann’s fifth career SAA Coach of the Year honor after leading the Vikings to a 33-4 overall record in the regular season, as well as a 16-1 conference record.

Under Thiermann’s leadership, Berry scored 318 runs, hitting .375 as a team. The Vikings also earned their sixth straight regular season SAA conference title, as Berry’s overall program record improved to 269-93.

The Vikings began the SAA tournament Friday in Chattanooga.

Howard, a senior from Alpharetta, tossed 111 1/3 innings for the Vikings, allowing just 57 hits and 17 runs in her 22 appearances. She also led the conference in nearly every pitching category, including ERA (0.75), wins (20) and strikeouts (158), posting an 84-8 career record in the circle.

Bayleigh Masterson, a freshman shortstop, hit .397 on the season, accumulating 46 hits and a conference-best 46 RBIs. She was also named SAA Player of the Week twice, hitting nine home runs for Berry on the year.

Aiken, a senior from Johns Creek, led the Vikings with a .426 average at the plate this season. She played in 34 games, finishing regular season with 46 hits, 13 of which were doubles, and 40 RBIs.

Aiken currently ranks second in the SAA in batting average and RBIs on the year, as well as fourth in stolen bases, with 17. She also added 47 put outs, 40 assists and four double plays at second base.