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Sumiton Christian and Arkansas Razorbacks KB Sides named SEC Player of the Year

Courtesy of arkansasrazorbacks.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Following the program’s second-consecutive SEC regular season crown, senior KB Sides became the first Razorback to be named SEC Player of the Year, the conference announced Friday. Head coach Courtney Deifel and junior RHP Chenise Delce were selected as SEC Coach and Pitcher of the Year.

Arkansas tabbed a conference-best 12 accolades and led with six first-team selections.

Deifel earned Coach of the Year for the second-straight season and Delce solidified the Hogs’ second-consecutive Pitcher of the Year honor after Mary Haff captured it in 2021.

Sides and Delce join Hannah Gammill, Danielle Gibson, Mary Haff and Linnie Malkin on the All-SEC First Team. Hannah McEwen was named to the All-SEC Second Team while Gammill and Gibson filed SEC All-Defensive Team accolades.

Deifel collected her 200th career win this season and became only the second coach to reach 200 career wins at Arkansas. In her seventh season, Deifel has turned around a program that recorded just one conference win in 2016 to back-to-back SEC regular season titles. The Razorbacks tied the program record in conference wins (19) for the second-straight year. She led Arkansas to 12 wins over ranked opponents and back-to-back, 40-win seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.

Sides became the first Razorback in program history to earn SEC Player of the Year after a stellar conference season. In conference play, Sides led the SEC in hits (34) and runs scored (27) while slashing .453/.853/.543. The Dora, Ala., native ranks second in league play in total bases (64), fifth in slugging percentage, fifth in walks (17), fifth in doubles (7) and 12th in RBIs with 20. Sides was chosen to the All-SEC All-Defensive Team in 2021 at Alabama.

Delce becomes the second Hog to be selected as SEC Pitcher of the Year. In her first year as a Razorback, Delce dominated SEC play, posting the second-lowest ERA (1.87) and leading the conference in saves (3), while ranking second wins (9) and opposing batting average (.207), third in strikeouts (84) and fourth in walks allowed (18).

Gibson has played an integral role for No. 5 Arkansas all season while being named a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year. Gibson ranks in the nation’s top 10 in several categories, including eighth in batting average (.443) and eighth in total bases (136). Gibson paces the conference in total bases, is tied for first in RBIs, second in batting average, second in hits and third in home runs. Gibson has compiled four all-conference honors as a Razorback.

Haff grabbed her second All-SEC First-Team honor and the fifth conference award of her career. Haff is part of an Arkansas pitching staff that led the conference with a 2.90 ERA. The Winter Haven, Fla., product ranked second in the league in batters struck out looking (22) and wins (9). The senior sits atop the program’s career record book tallying 95 wins and 15 saves. Haff has 16 double-digit strikeout performances – the most in program history and tied the program’s record in shutouts (26) after blanking Ole Miss Thursday night.

Malkin has proven to be a serious threat at the dish during league play. Malkin recorded two home runs in the Auburn series opener. The Broomfield, Colo., product sits at second in the country in RBI per game (1.48) and sixth in RBIs with 62. She also ranks fifth in home runs per contest (0.45) and seventh in slugging percentage (.944). Malkin penciled her way into the program’s record book Thursday after soaring her 48th career home run – the most in program history.

Gammill punctured her first all-conference honor after a dominating conference play at third. The Beebe, Ark., native ranks third in the conference in slugging percentage, second in hit by pitch (19) third in home runs (18) and seventh in on base percentage. Gammill sports a .958 fielding percentage with 56 putouts and 59 assists.

McEwen racked up the fourth all-league accolade after posting a perfect fielding percentage in left with 85 putouts and one assist. The San Diego, Calif., product has been an anchor in left while moving her way into the program’s record book. During the spring, McEwen became the program’s all-time hits leader and all-time runs scored leader. McEwen grabbed SEC Player of the Week honors last week after propelling Arkansas to a sweep of South Carolina.

Arkansas becomes the first team to have two pitchers notch first-team honors since Alabama did in 2019.

Arkansas is the first team since 2010 to win SEC Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year.

The Razorbacks look to make the program’s second appearance and first since 1999 in the SEC Tournament Championship as they face No. 13 Florida in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.