Leesburg, Fla. – It was a banner year for the Lake-Sumter State College Athletics Department in 2018. It's time for a little recap.
It seemed like milestone after milestone in the last calendar year for the Lakehawks. It has certainly been an incredible 12 months and with so much happening, let's take a look back and remember the top 10 moments for LSSC athletics in 2018.
10. Rachel Phelps/Renata Gomes Martins win Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards
Both athletes were incredible competitors in their respective arenas, but excelled in the classroom as well. Renata Gomes Martins was selected as the 2018 Roberta Stokes Scholar-Athlete Award recipient for Region 8 in the sport of volleyball. She became the first Lakehawk to ever earn a Scholar-Athlete Award in any sport. Shortly after, Rachel Phelps became the second winner in LSSC athletics history, being selected as the Jean Williams Scholar-Athlete Award winner in softball.
9. Gabby Hernandez sets a school record with 62 assists in one match
Gabriela Hernandez certainly ate her Wheaties that morning as she put an exclamation point on her career with 62 assists in four sets. A career high and new school record for the setter. Hernandez became the third player in the country to reach the 60+ assist mark in DII. Her 62 total assists are the most in any division in the state of Florida and second nationally in NJCAA Division II. The setter also added 12 digs for her eighth double-double of the season.
8. Baseball & Softball make it to the postseason
The Lakehawk baseball team had not made a postseason appearance since 2011 while the softball program got back in for the first time since 2014. It was the first time in school history that both programs made it to the playoffs in the same season.
7. Baseball upsets St. Johns in the first round of the playoffs
After securing the fourth seed in the Mid-Florida Conference Tournament, the Lake-Sumter State College baseball team knocked off three seeded St. Johns River State by mercy rule. It was a big fifth inning for the Lakehawks that put them ahead. The bats came alive to the tune of a six hit, five run inning to put LSSC on top, 6-2. The final tally on the scoreboard was 13-2 with the game ending in shortened fashion.
6. Softball sets single season win record and secures first winning season since 1999
That is correct, it had been almost 20 years since the softball program produced a winning record. "I'm so proud of these girls," said Miller. "They put in the work, they overcame adversity and now they are the winningest team in program history." In the process of the memorable season, Jasmine McQuaig became the all-time wins leader for the program.
5. Volleyball earns first win at Nationals
We'll get to the trip to Nationals momentarily, but the win in Charleston, WV was an amazing moment on its own. In three straight sets over Oakland CC, the Lakehawk volleyball team confirmed what we already knew going into Nationals, that Lake-Sumter is a top team in the country and they do belong at this elite tournament. The Lakehawks would finish 11th in the nation.
4. Renata Gomes Martins selected as the President's Award Winner
After an extremely accomplished two-year career on the court, Gomes Martins left her final mark on the college becoming just the fifth student-athlete to win the prestigious President's Award at graduation. "I am incredibly proud of Renata and all that she has done for this program," said Head Volleyball Coach, Amanda Phelps. "This award shows that our college is just as impressed with the hard work that she has put in as we are. We are thankful to have her represent our school and conference and cannot wait to see what the future holds for this bright young lady."
3. Emma Gray becomes first All-America selection to come from Lake-Sumter
The local product from First Academy Leesburg has wrapped up a decorated two years as a Lakehawk. Emma Gray finished top five all-time in kills (529) and total attacks (1729). After elevating her game to the next level, Gray received national recognition in the wake of the Regional/District Tournament being named National Player of the Week by the NJCAA. She will forever be known as "The first Lake-Sumter All-American athlete."
2. Baseball upsets No. 1 team in the nation
It's a dream young athletes have growing up and playing sports in their backyard with their friends, to be the underdog and upset the best team in the land. The dream became reality for Head Coach Rich Billings and his team on April 21 when they took down Santa Fe College, 4-3. "The heart these guys played with this past week, knowing what they needed to do, speaks volumes about the toughness and character of our program," said Billings. "With the teams we had to go through to accomplish what we set out to do and beating Santa Fe to top it off shows a ton of toughness from our guys and I could not me more proud of them."
1. Volleyball defeats Pasco-Hernando to earn first ever trip to Nationals
It was possibly the most hyped up volleyball match in school history. Lake-Sumter/Pasco-Hernando III, with the Bobcats taking the first two conference meetings. Pasco entered the regional/district tournament as the No. 10 team in the nation and No. 1 overall seed. The Lakehawks, a two seed, had not received a vote in the national poll all season long. After taking the first two sets from PHSC, the Lakehawks looked unstoppable, but then the clock seemed to strike midnight for Cinderella. The Bobcats battled back to take the next two sets. With LSSC leading 14-13 in the decisive fifth set, the glass slipper seemed to slide back on with the Lakehawks claiming the 15th point and a trip to Nationals.
After the hugs and tears of joy, Regional/District Coach of the Year, Amanda Phelps was able to express her emotions. "I am so proud of this team! The amount of heart I saw this weekend was immeasurable!" Coach Phelps continued, "This group has worked so hard to get to this point and deserve every accolade they received."
Oh yes, 2018 has certainly been good for Lake-Sumter Athletics! It's going to be very exciting to see where these programs go in 2019.