Honors roll in for Texas track and field, softball

20 May By
Team Shop
Texas head coach Edrick Floréal is the first coach ever to sweep the men's and women's Big 12 Coach of the Year awards for both the indoor and outdoor seasons in the same year (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

AUSTIN, Texas — With the regular season over, honors have poured in for both the Texas track and field and softball teams.

Track and field dominates conference accolades
The track and field team took four of the six Big 12 outdoor honors. Head coach Edrick Floréal earned both the Men's Coach of the Year and Women's Coach of the Year awards, becoming the first coach to sweep both the men's and women's awards for the indoor and outdoor seasons in the same year.

Sprinter Kynnedy Flannel was named the Women's Performer of the Year, on the heels of a Big 12 Championship performance in which she won both the 100-meter and 200-meter titles. Flannel registered personal bests of 11.22 seconds in the 100 and 22.47 seconds in the 200. Flannel broke Teahna Daniels' school record in the 200 Sunday, and finished as the meet's high point scorer.

Distance runner Yusuf Bizimana claimed the Men's Outstanding Freshman of the Year award. He tallied 20 points at the Big 12 Championships, taking first in the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters despite jostling at the front of the pack in both races. Bizimana became the first Longhorn since 2009 to win the 800-meter crown, winning with a time of 1:46.84, the fourth-fastest time in program history. He also won the 1,500 at the Michael Johnson Invitational in Waco, the 5,000 at the Texas Relays and the 800 in the dual meet at Texas A&M during the outdoor season.

The Longhorns will run in College Station for the second time this spring next week, when the NCAA West Prelims begin May 26.

Softball prepares for NCAA Tournament
The Texas softball team, which posted a 1-2 showing at the Big 12 Tournament, secured the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is begins Friday. The Longhorns will host the Austin Regional, which also features Oregon, Saint Francis (Penn.) and Texas State.

The Longhorns put seven players on the All-Big 12 team, including second baseman Janae Jefferson and catcher/utility player Mary Iakopo on the first team and pitcher Shea O'Leary and outfielder Shannon Rhodes on the second team; catcher/first baseman JJ Smith, infielder Alyssa Washington and outfielder/designated player Jordyn Whitaker were named to the All-Freshman team.

Thursday brought about a new set of honors for the Longhorns, as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) announced its All-Region teams. Jefferson claimed her third NFCA all-region honor. She currently leads Texas in batting average (.435) and hits (64), is tied for the team lead in steals (13), and is one of 25 finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award.

Iakopo earned her second all-region honor after swatting a career-high 15 home runs this year. Of her 44 hits this season, 19 have gone for extra bases.

O'Leary and Rhodes each earned all-region honors for the second time as well. O'Leary, the anchor of UT's pitching staff, has a 13-4 record in the circle with a 1.86 earned run average and 11 complete games. Rhodes, who was drafted May 10 by Athletes Unlimited, has a .364 batting average with 51 runs scored, 55 hits and is tied with Iakopo for the team lead in homers at 15.

Jefferson, Iakopo, O'Leary and Rhodes each were selected to the second team; redshirt junior catcher/utility Taylor Ellsworth, sophomore catcher/first baseman Colleen Sullivan and sophomore shortstop McKenzie Parker picked up third-team selections.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley