Moon Township, PA – Senior Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) was selected the 2011 Northeast Conference player of the year at the annual awards banquet Thursday night, the eve of the NEC Tournament. Sophomore Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC) also earned a major award, claiming "Most Improved Player" honors as well as a spot on the All-NEC first team. Joining Froelich and Sidor on the first team is senior pitcher Jen Russell (Seymour, CT,), who finished her four year run as an all-conference performer. Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA) and Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) rounded out the SHU trophy case, both earning a spot on the All-NEC second team.
Froelich finished the regular season with a .352 batting average to go along with team highs of 57 hits and 39 runs scored. Her 203 career hits rank first in the division I era at Sacred Heart and second all-time. Froelich has become one of the most feared hitters in the Northeast Conference, hitting at least .325 in each of the last three seasons. She has a chance to make more history as the Pioneers begin postseason play, needing just five more doubles to break the all-time Sacred Heart record. Froelich also posted six homers and 22 RBIs en route to becoming the first Pioneer to ever be named the Northeast Conference player of the year.
Sidor made the All-NEC first team at the utility position, shining both at the plate and in the pitching circle in 2011. The sophomore picked up nine victories on the rubber, throwing two complete game shutouts, and posted a 2.54 ERA. Sidor's biggest improvement from last season came at the plate as she compiled a .330 average with three homers and 18 RBIs. The league's head coaches acknowledged the huge strides Sidor has made in becoming a force in the NEC as an underclassman by voting her the conference's most improved player.
Russell has been a dominant force in the Northeast Conference for four seasons and 2011 was no different. The hard throwing senior went 10-3 in league games and hurled four complete game shutouts. Russell racked up 16 total wins in the circle this season and posted a 1.98 ERA and 147 strikeouts. The only other time Russell received a nod to the NEC first team was in 2009, when she went on to earn tournament MVP honors and lead the Pioneers to their NEC first championship.
Lee, the Pioneers senior first baseman, earned a spot on the second team for the second time in her career. Lee finished the 2011 regular season with career highs of a .359 batting average and 37 RBIs, the highest marks of any NEC first baseman. She also played a more than solid first base this season, making just four errors and posting a .988 fielding percentage. Lee tied a team high by cranking seven homeruns this season and compiling a .569 slugging percentage.
Tsipouras' second team honor marks the first all-conference award for the junior slugger and SHU cleanup hitter. Tsipouras led the NEC with 39 RBIs and ranked second in the circuit with a .403 batting average. Her .619 slugging percentage and .476 on base percentage led all Pioneers in 2011. Tsipouras crushed NEC opposition all year, recording four homers and 16 RBIs in league contests. Tsipouras made the All-NEC second team as the designated player but also earned a pair of victories in the pitching circle this season.
Sacred Heart's all-conference honorees will look to win the program's second NEC title in three years, opening tournament play tomorrow afternoon at 12:15 pm against #3 Quinnipiac. The first round meeting with the Bobcats will feature four NEC major award winners: Froelich, SHU (Player of the Year), Sidor, SHU (Most Improved Player), Heather Schwartzburg, QU (Pitcher of the Year), and Jordan Paolucci, QU (Rookie of the Year).
Fans can watch the action from the 2011 NEC tournament live at www.NortheastConference.TV