UNG players and coaches earn postseason honors

Three University of North Georgia (UNG) head coaches — baseball's Tom Cantrell, softball's Mike Davenport and track and field's Tom Williams — earned Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Coach of the Year honors to cap a "banner year" for UNG athletics.
Clark Leonard | Mon May 13, 2019

Three University of North Georgia (UNG) head coaches — baseball's Tom Cantrell, softball's Mike Davenport and track and field's Tom Williams — earned Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Coach of the Year honors to cap a "banner year" for UNG athletics.

This is the fourth time Cantrell has earned the PBC honor. Cantrell's team finished 33-20, a two-game improvement from 2018, and compiled a 19-11 PBC regular-season record. The PBC Coach of the Year honor is the eighth for Davenport, which is more than any other softball coach in league history; his team finished the season with a 45-13 record.

"The 2018-19 athletic year was another banner year for Nighthawk athletics on and off the field of competition, and it was punctuated by the overall successes of our spring sports," UNG Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves said. "Just this spring, our student-athletes captured three conference championships and UNG was represented in NCAA postseason play in three sports."

On May 13, the UNG women's tennis team, seeded fourth in the Southeast Regional, defeated fifth-seeded Queens University of Charlotte 4-2 in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament in Wingate, North Carolina. The Nighthawks women's tennis team, ranked 12th nationally, improved to 20-5 and faces top-seeded Wingate at 1 p.m. May 14 in the NCAA second round.

UNG's Adrienne Bofinger (No. 1), Cibeles Zuddy (No. 4) and Claudelle Labonte-Frey (No. 5) scored singles wins versus Queens, and the doubles pairs of Holly Bennett and Vaishali Jorge (No. 1) and Loden and Bofinger (No. 3) prevailed to give the Nighthawks the doubles point.

UNG's Bofinger earned singles MVP honors at the PBC tournament in late April, while the Nighthawks doubles tandem of Bennett and Jorge took PBC doubles MVP honors.

UNG's softball team ended its season in the NCAA Division II regionals, and came within one win of reaching a Super Regional. The Nighthawks fell 5-0 to PBC rival Young Harris College on May 11 in the final game of NCAA Division II Southeast Regional 1. The top seed in the Southeast Region, the Nighthawks defeated Lees-McRae 2-0 in its May 9 regional opener before a 1-0 loss to Young Harris on May 10.

Mike Davenport's team then earned a spot in a pair of May 11 matchups with Young Harris by earning a 3-2 victory against Lees-McRae in 12 innings May 10. UNG defeated Young Harris 2-1 in their first May 11 matchup to force the decisive seventh game. Young Harris advanced to the Super Regional.

The Nighthawks won their sixth straight PBC tournament title and hosted a regional for the sixth year in a row. Senior infielder Marley Stowers was PBC Player of the Year and junior Kylee Smith earned PBC Pitcher of the Year honors. Smith has also been named one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player and Pitcher of the Year awards. Smith earned the National Player of the Year award in 2018. 

The UNG baseball team lost two of three games at the PBC tournament in Palatka, Florida, from May 10-12. In a doubleheader that began May 11 and extended long into the night due to weather delays, UNG defeated Georgia College 11-5 before falling 17-5 to Young Harris in seven innings in a contest that wrapped up at 2:30 a.m. May 12. Young Harris went on to win the PBC title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament. Cantrell's team, which was the tournament's No. 1 seed, lost 4-2 to Georgia Southwestern in its pool play tournament opener May 10.

The UNG men's tennis team, seeded No. 7 in the Southeast Regional, fell 4-1 to second-seeded University of South Carolina Aiken in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament in Aiken, South Carolina. Niklas Zielen earned a 6-1, 6-2 victory at No. 1 singles for UNG. The Nighthawks men's tennis team, ranked 14th nationally, finished the season 15-8.

In addition to softball's regular-season and tournament PBC titles and the baseball team's PBC regular-season championship, UNG track and field athlete Abigail Kirkland won the PBC title in the 400-meter hurdles this spring. UNG's track and field team finished fifth in the PBC.