Finish Strong: Armstrong Athletes Dominate Spring Sports
The Armstrong athletic department had yet another successful year on the field, garnering the institution's third straight Peach Belt Conference Commissioner's Cup, which is presented annually to the best overall athletic department in the conference, as determined by regular-season league standings.
From left, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Jennifer Rushton, University President Dr. Linda Bleicken, Athletic Director Lisa Sweany, Vice President for Student Affairs Georj Lewis.
For the second consecutive year, the university earned the prestigious Presidents' Award, which recognizes excellence in academics concerning all of an institution's student-athletes. Armstrong also sent eight teams to the NCAA Championships for a second straight year, with six teams advancing to the "Sweet Sixteen" or farther in NCAA competition.
Four talented Armstrong spring sports student-athletes were recognized by the Peach Belt Conference as tops in their sport as junior shortstop Alexis Mercer was named the PBC Softball Player of the Year; senior Ethan Bader was named the PBC Baseball Pitcher of the Year and seniors Aleksandra Filipovski and Pedro Scocuglia were named the PBC Women's and Men's Tennis Players of the Year, respectively.
The Rincon, Ga., native earned her second straight PBC Player of the Year honor for a truly outstanding season that saw the shortstop win the league's "Triple Crown," leading the Peach Belt in batting average (.434), home runs (26) and runs batted in (55). Not only did her 26 home runs set a new Armstrong and Peach Belt single-season record, but her home runs per game number led all of NCAA Division II. A consensus first-team All-American, Mercer is already the all-time leader in home runs in just three seasons for the Pirates and her efforts helped Armstrong softball advance to the NCAA Division II Softball World Series for a second consecutive season.
Bader finished his Armstrong baseball career by being named the PBC's Pitcher of the Year, going 11-1 with a 3.45 ERA and leading the league in strikeouts (121). During the season, the Jacksonville, Fla., native became the career leader in both wins (31) and strikeouts (293) for Armstrong and he finishes his career ranked fifth in Peach Belt Conference history in wins and seventh in total strikeouts. Bader will graduate this summer with his bachelor's degree in health science.
Filipovski completed an outstanding four-year career for the Pirates by earning PBC Player of the Year honors as she ended the 2014 season ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division II in singles and No. 1 in the nation in doubles. The Szeged, Hungary, native went 24-1 in singles play this spring and 26-2 in doubles play and in her four years, the Pirates won three NCAA Division II National Championships while finishing runner-up this season. Filipovski received her bachelor's degree in economics this May as well.
Pedro Scocuglia began his career as Armstrong's No. 6 singles player as a true freshman in 2011, earning PBC Freshman of the Year honors. As the team's lone senior this year, the Bauru, Brazil, native took over the No. 1 singles spot and went unbeaten in Peach Belt Conference play in singles, earning PBC Player of the Year honors. A member of Armstrong's 2012 NCAA DII National Championship squad, Scocuglia led the Pirates to a national semifinalist finish this season, compiling a 17-4 singles and 15-11 doubles record this Spring. Scocuglia received his bachelor's degree in economics this May from Armstrong.