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Blue Hose from Laurens is league's top reliever

Baseball & Softball - Big South Conference honors are announced


Tanner Smith Named Big South Relief Pitcher of the Week; Johnson Achieves Big South Player of the Week Badge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Following his 3.2 shutout innings in the Blue Hose conference opening win against High Point, Presbyterian College baseball senior Tanner Smith (Laurens, S.C.) has been named the Big South Relief Pitcher of the Week for games played March 13-19, as announced by the league office on Monday.

Campbell's Jarrod Belbin has been named the Big South Player of the Week, while Bobby Alcock of Gardner-Webb is the Starting Pitcher of the Week for the games played last week, as announced by the Big South today. In addition, Chandler Tuupo of Charleston Southern earned Freshman of the Week honors.

Smith began the week making quick work of #16 South Carolina as he needed just four pitches to record two outs including a strikeout against the Gamecocks.

He was strong in his 2023 Big South debut on Friday as he totaled 3.2 scoreless innings scattering two hits, one walk and totaling three strikeouts en route to his third save of the season.

Smith entered on Friday with one out in the sixth and induced a sacrifice fly followed by a groundout to make it a 7-6 game headed to the seventh.

He worked around a pair of singles in the seventh without harm to preserve the advantage for the Blue Hose. He was able to sit the Panthers down 1-2-3 in eighth and following a leadoff walk, Smith recorded a fielder's choice, strikeout and fly out to secure his third save of the season and give PC the 7-6 league opening win.

Smith leads the Blue Hose staff with a 1.42 ERA over 12.2 innings pitched as he's tallied a team-high three saves on the season. He's also tied for second amongst relief pitchers at PC with 13 strikeouts.

He's the second PC pitcher to earn a weekly award from the conference as freshman Mason McDaniel was named Co-Freshman of the Week following his first career victory against Western Carolina earlier this season.

Smith is also the first Blue Hose reliever to receive the honor since Clark Dearman and Logan Ymker earned two awards each last season for the PC bullpen.

 PC returns to the diamond at home on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. first pitch against Davidson on ESPN+. The Blue Hose continue a home stretch with their first Big South series in Clinton beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. against Charleston Southern. 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rewarded for an offensive explosion of epic proportions over a five-game window from Wednesday-Sunday, senior shortstop Layna Johnson of the Presbyterian College softball team was named by the Big South as the conference’s Player of the Week. Unveiled on Monday afternoon, league officials determined Johnson as the rightful recipient following a .667 batting average and seven runs scored all away from home.

A key ingredient to the Blue Hose’s batting resurgence over the weekend at the Jolly Roger Invite in Greenville, North Carolina, Johnson returned to the top spot in the PC batting order and delivered mightily by cracking five extra-base hits within four consecutive outings, leading to a trio of RBI as the lead-off player and an on-base percentage of .722 collectively versus South Carolina, Cleveland State, Ohio State, and East Carolina.

Notching a double in the books over four straight contests – a streak that was capped off with a solo home run in Sunday’s victory against CSU, her second longball of 2023 – Johnson proved to be a near-impossible out over the full week by connecting on 10-of-15 at-bats alongside three walks for good measure.

Lining up a vicious 1.133 slugging percentage over PC’s last five dates, the fourth-year devotee mirrored a career-best with four runs scored by herself in Saturday’s run-rule decision over the Vikings, pivoting to a 6-of-8 showing at the plate over the next afternoon’s two-parter with three hits in either bout (another mark that tied a career-high, reaching three hits in the same game on six different occasions since 2020).

With Monday’s announcement, Johnson becomes the sixth Presbyterian performer over the past year and a half to receive the Big South’s Player of the Week nod, penciled in as a starter in 126 games and counting since joining the program. The Aynor native needs only one more connection to give her 100 on the nose for her career, going yard for the 12th time overall in the first at-bat against Cleveland State yesterday.

Now the team-leader in doubles (five) as the fifth roster member to bring in her 20th hit of the semester, Johnson remains perfect on the base pads with nine steals in as many attempts, contributing to her status as second on the squad in total runs (15) next to 31 total bases.

On the defensive side of the field, wherein the Blue Hose have mostly been excellent as a unit, the senior has composed 29 assists and 56 putouts, going for 16 of the latter this past week including a season-high-tying five versus the Buckeyes.

The nonconference portion of Presbyterian’s schedule has seen its end near the close of March, turning their attention to the crucial Big South slate that starts on Saturday back in Clinton. Head coach David Williams’ team gets set for a three-game layout against Longwood in doubleheader form on the 25th to start at 12:00 on ESPN+, battling again in the ensuing afternoon for the Lancers’ finale.


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