FAYETTEVILLE – Seeded along with SEC regular-season co-champion Florida with a SEC Tournament bye, Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel and her SEC co-champion Razorbacks bring a hardware’s store worth of accolades to Tuscaloosa, Ala. for Thursday’s game against Wednesday’s winner between Tennessee and Texas A&M.
The single-elimination tournament runs through Saturday in Tuscaloosa.
For piloting the first SEC softball championship in University of Arkansas history and achieving SEC co-champion Razorbacks 40-8 overall record and 19-5 SEC record, Deifel was voted SEC Coach of the Year.
Individually, Arkansas pitcher Mary Haff, named SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year along with Alabama’s Montana Fouts, and Razorbacks slugging shortstop Braxton Burnside of Paragould were named First-Team All-SEC.
Arkansas pitcher Autumn Storms, left fielder Hannah McEwen and first baseman Danielle Gibson were voted Second-Team All-SEC with Gibson additionally honored as first baseman on the All-SEC Defensive team.
Arkansas freshman pitcher Jenna Bloom was named to the SEC All-Newcomers team.
“It was pretty exciting to share the news this morning at practice,” Deifel said during a Tuesday afternoon Zoom press conference. “Anytime somebody in the circle is recognized it means the rest of the circle have been doing their job. It’s really exciting to celebrate a record number of girls on first and second team and obviously (Co-Pitcher of the Year) is huge for Mary.”
What about your award as Coach of the Year?
“I took it upon myself to change that award to Coaching Staff of the Year,” Deifel said, noting assistants Matt Meuchel, Yolanda McRae and Annie Smith. “I don’t talk about them enough but I am fortunate to have a staff that has really bought in and knows the game really well and that makes us all better. And it’s a reflection of our team performing at a really high level in a really tough conference. I’m really lucky to be their coach.”
The team is lucky to have Deifel as their coach, Haff implied.
“I’m so excited for Coach Deifel,” Haff said. “She 100 percent deserves it. An amazing coach and human being and for everybody else on the team that got awards we’re so excited today.”