GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – The Atlantic Coast Conference has announced its softball season award winners for 2021. ACC regular-season champion Clemson earned three of the five awards: Valerie Cagle (Player and Freshman of the Year) and John Rittman (Coach of the Year). Virginia Tech’s Keely Rochard was named Pitcher of the Year and Florida State’s Sydney Sherrill was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year.
The awards were selected following a vote of the league’s head coaches.
Cagle is the first ACC student-athlete to be named Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season. The freshman from Yorktown, Virginia, leads the league with 113 total bases and ranks in the top five in slugging percentage (second, .819), home runs (tied for second, 14), on base percentage (third, .503), batting average (third, .420), hits (tied for fourth, 58) and RBI (tied for fourth, 40). Cagle has also been stellar in the circle, tying for the league lead in wins with 24 and leading the league in saves with five. She ranks among the top five in the conference in strikeouts (second, 213), earned run average (1.15) innings pitched (second, 176.2), shutouts (second, nine), complete games (second, 23) and opponents’ batting average (fourth, .185). Cagle earned ACC Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week honors two times each this season and is the only player to be named both the NFCA Division I Player and Pitcher of the Week this season.
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A junior from Williamsburg, Virginia, Rochard leads the ACC in multiple pitching categories. The Hokie pitcher ranks No. 1 in strikeouts (288), ERA (1.12), innings pitched (194), complete games (25), shutouts (13) and opponents’ batting average (.144). Rochard is also tied for the league lead in wins with 24 and has been named ACC Pitcher of the Week three times and the NFCA National Pitcher of the Week twice this season.
Sherrill leads a stout Florida State defense from her third base position. The junior from Moore, Oklahoma, is part of a Seminole defense that leads the league in fielding percentage (.975) and double plays (25), has the fewest errors (33) and ranks second in ERA (1.70). Sherrill also had a strong season at the plate, as she currently leads the ACC in walks (39) and ranks among the top 10 in doubles (tied for fourth, 11), runs scored (tied for sixth, 39) and on base percentage (eighth, .462).
Rittman guided the Tigers (37-4) to the No. 1 seed in the 2021 ACC Softball Championship in his first full season at the helm. Ranked No. 13 nationally in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, Clemson leads the league in multiple categories, including hits (363), RBI (246), ERA (1.56), on base percentage (.391), slugging percentage (.521) and total bases (619). The Tigers also rank second in the ACC in batting average (.306), runs scored (264) and home runs (59).
The first round of the 2021 ACC Softball Championship begins Wednesday at Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium. No. 9 seed Georgia Tech and No. 8 Syracuse will kick off the tournament with a 1 p.m. game, followed by No. 10 North Carolina vs. No. 7 at 3:30 p.m. ACC Network will carry the first three rounds, with the championship game set for Saturday at noon on ESPN2.