FORT MYERS, Fla. – After having its 2013 season come to a close, head coach David Deiros announced four team awards after a year in which the FGCU softball team went 36-18 overall, with a 16-7 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference play. The four awards include Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and the Eagle Pride award.
FGCU had its season end with a, 2-1, walk-off loss to 2013 A-Sun regular season champion North Florida (May 10) in an elimination game during the 2013 A-Sun Championships as the Ospreys won on a base hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We had a very good season. It was difficult to choose one individual for each award because our players do a great job of playing the game the right way”, said Deiros. “However, these four young women really exemplified what we are trying to accomplish on and off the field.”
Junior Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) was named the team MVP after a year in which she was named A-Sun Co-Player of the Year after batting .329 in 45 games with 15 home runs and 56 RBI, both of which were team highs. Despite suffering a season-ending injury against 2013 A-Sun tournament champion USC Upstate (Apr. 21), Zgrabik received A-Sun second team honors after slugging .713 in addition to her other solid offensive numbers. The Eagles’ primary catcher recorded three two-home run games, seven three-RBI games, three four-RBI games and one six-RBI game over the course of her 45-game junior season.
“I thought Chelsea had a fantastic year in all aspects. She was our best power hitter and run producer. She did a fantastic job of controlling our opponents’ running game and managing our pitching staff from behind the plate,” Deiros explained. “She had an outstanding season.”
Sophomore Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) was named the Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Green and Blue batting order in numerous offensive categories this season. The Eagle left fielder was named to the A-Sun All-Conference second team in the outfield, along with being named to the A-Sun All-Academic Team. Carpenter finished the year leading the FGCU offense in batting average (.380), runs scored (49), hits (60), total bases (107), walks (36) and on-base percentage (.490). Her five triples during her second year as an Eagle tied her for first in the A-Sun and 15th in the nation in the category.
“I thought Kelsey had the greatest improvement from last year to this year in all aspects of her offensive game. She was more patient at the plate and that manifested itself in drastic improvements in all of her hitting statistics. She was a big time difference-maker for us at the plate,” Deiros said.
Junior third baseman Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) was a key piece to the FGCU infield that recorded 26 fielding double plays on the year, a statistic that ranks first in the A-Sun and ninth in the country among 289 Division I softball programs. Selected to the 2013 A-Sun Preseason team, Bembnowski proved her worth by recording 136 assists and 72 putouts to compile a .981 fielding percentage in 53 games, all of which she started. During A-Sun play, Bembnowski took her defense to another level as she posted a .990 fielding percentage which led all FGCU infielders, en route to being named the Defensive Player of the Year for the Eagles.
“Kirsten is the best defensive third baseman in the conference, if not one of the best in the country. She has an incredible arm, she has very good range and a firm grasp of what we want to do with our defensive game plan,” Deiros stated.
Senior Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) was the recipient of the Eagle Pride award for her impressive career achievements in her time at FGCU. Fernandez was named to the A-Sun All-Academic Team, along with being named to the A-Sun All –Tournament team after her strong performance during the 2013 A-Sun Championship. During her final year as an FGCU student-athlete, Fernandez asserted herself among the all-time Eagle greats by placing herself among the top 10 in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and stolen bases. The southwest Florida native finished first on the team in doubles (11) and tied for first in triples (5). Fernandez received the 2013 Carl McAloose Spirit Award earlier in the spring semester.
“The Eagle Pride Award is a celebration of career achievement and I believe that Mariah has had one of the best careers in FGCU softball history. She has been a stalwart in our lineup for her four years. Most importantly, she has never rested on her laurels and saved her best for last. She had a fantastic season with tremendous improvement in just about every aspect of her game. Not only has she had a great career, but she had a career year this season,” Deiros concluded.
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2013 FGCU Team Awards
MVP: Chelsea Zgrabik
Offensive Player of the Year: Kelsey Carpenter
Defensive Player of the Year: Kirsten Bembnowski
Eagle Pride: Mariah Fernandez