A trio of Truett McConnell University athletes received some national honors this week from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Karley Hobbs (softball), Matt Smith (golf) and Josh Johnston (baseball) all received All-American recognition for their stellar performances this spring.
Hobbs, Johnston and Smith joined TMU track standout Keishon Franklin in earning the NAIA's top individual accolades. Franklin was named as an All-American two weeks ago during the NAIA national meet. A story about Franklin was included in the May 30 edition of the White County News. The four athletes are the first from TMU to receive All-American recognition during the NAIA-era.
Hobbs was named the second team in softball, while Smith was a third team pick in men's golf, and Johnston was an honorable mention selection.
Karley Hobbs, sophomore from Loganville, is a two-time Appalachian Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, and has added All-American status to her resume after a spectacular season this spring in the circle. Hobbs is the first TMU Lady Bear to receive the NAIA honor.
"I am so proud of Hobby," TMU head coach Jenni Shepard said. "She is truly deserving of this recognition as she had another stellar campaign this season, highlighted by setting a new TMU single season record for lowest earned run average (1.21), and not losing a single game during the regular season. The stats speak for themselves.”
Hobbs has led the Lady Bears to back-to-back AAC regular season championships.
This spring she posted a 29-4 record, including a perfect regular season slate at 28-0, and had two saves out of the bullpen. In AAC play, she posted a 0.80 ERA and finished the season with a 1.21 mark, while holding opponents to a .194 batting average.
Hobbs recorded an AAC ERA of .80 and overall ERA of 1.21, while holding her opponents to an overall batting average of .194.
Hobbs finished the 2019 season ranked fifth in the country in wins (29), sixth in total innings pitched (231.1) and 10th in ERA (1.21). Hobbs recorded a season high of nine strikeouts in against Bluefield College in April, and tallied a total of 58 assists and eight putouts in the field. Hobbs also allowed only one home run in all 231.1 innings pitched.Hobbs has compiled a 60-11 record in two seasons with the Lady Bears, along with a 1.54 ERA.
“What impresses me most is that while she is happy for this recognition, I know that she plays for the love of the game, not the recognition,” Shepard said. “She is fierce competitor who knows what it takes to win, and is willing to put the work in on a daily basis to make it happen. This recognition is not something that was achieved over the course of one or two months or seasons, but over 10-plus years of hard work.
I am so proud of Hobby as she is the first All-American for TMU softball. I can't wait to see what she and the TMU Bears are able to achieve in the years to come. This is one of those proud coach moments where I am reminded how lucky I am that she calls me coach."
Matt Smith, a junior from Seneca, S.C., became the Bears' first golfer named to the NAIA team, earning a spot on the third team.
Smith recently advanced to the final rounds of the NAIA national championships, finishing 16th of 156 golfers in the field. In the regular season finale, Smith was in a three-way tie for AAA Player of the Year honors heading in AAC Direct Qualifier. Smith finished as the runner-up, and clinched a spot on the All-AAC first team.
"I am extremely proud of Matt and his work ethic," TMU head coach Steve Patton said. "What people do see is what a phenomenal golfer he is, but what a lot of people don't get to see is what an amazing young man he is off the course. This is a great day for our program and this university."
Smith led his team to AAC Spring Championship title in April, winning low-medalist honors. Smith ran to the lead in the opening round with a 65 and followed up with a 72 in the second round to clinch the title.
During the season, Smith was named AAC Golfer of the Week twice, and finished ranked 30th our of 150 golfers in the Golfstat NAIA player rankings with a scoring average of 73.08.
Josh Johnston became the Bears' first NAIA All-American, an honorable mention accolades thanks to an outstanding season this spring.
Johnston, a junior shortstop from Atlanta, led the Bears offensive attack with a .422 batting average during the regular season, and hit at a .435 clip during Appalachian Athletic Conference games.
Johnston had 81 hits and scored 59 runs. He had 10 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 46 RBI, which helped him earn him a spot on the All-AAC first team. Johnston also led TMU with 23 stolen bases to move his career stolen bases number to 41.
On the national level, Johnston finished the season ranked seventh in the country in hits per game (1.653), 11th in runs scored per game (1.204), 15th in batting average (.422) and 17th in total bases per game (2.751). Johnston recorded season game highs of six RBI (vs. Reinhardt University) and four runs scored twice (vs. Reinhardt and Point University).
Johnston's career batting average sits at .342, while his on base percentage is .426.