GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman outfielder Grace Loftin of the UNC Greensboro (UNCG) softball team was recently named to the Extra Inning Softball All-Freshman team after her outstanding first year as a Spartan.
Loftin was named one of the 16 brightest rookie standouts in Division I softball. The list includes representatives from 16 different schools and 12 conferences. Loftin was the only representative from the Southern Conference (SoCon).
Fourteen of the 16 players were also listed as Top 25 finalists for the NFCA’s National Freshman of the Year award. On the list are six pitchers and 10 position players, as well as seven Power 5 players and nine from mid-major programs.
Loftin was one of two Spartans named to the NFCA All-Mideast Region team, taking second team honors. She was voted to the All-SoCon first team as an outfielder and All-Freshman team.
The Conover, North Carolina native was also the first Spartan to be named a Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Top 25 Finalist.
During the season, Loftin was named D1 Softball National Freshman of the Week, SoCon Player of the Week, and SoCon Player of the Month during March. At UNCG’s Athletic Award Ceremony, Spiros, Loftin was named the Female Rookie of the Year.
Starting and playing in 56 of the Spartans’ 57 games this season, Loftin was fourth on the team with a .296 batting average swinging 45-for-152 at the plate. She scored 24 runs and was second on the team with 46 RBI.
She was third on the team with 11 home runs and was tied for first with Makenna Matthijs with a team-best 14 doubles. Loftin was one of three Spartans with a slugging percentage over .600, averaging .605.
On the field, Loftin made 101 putouts and made just two errors for a .981 fielding percentage.
Among the SoCon, Loftin concluded the season ranked third in RBI (46), tied for third in doubles (14), fifth in slugging percentage (.609) and home runs (11), and seventh in total bases (92).
She had 10 multi-hit games this season, including a season-high three, three times against North Carolina, Elon, and Mercer. In the game against the Bears at UNCG Softball Stadium on March 27 where the Spartans won 19-1 in five innings, Loftin hit three home runs making her the fourth Spartan in program history to do so.
She also had 11 games with multiple RBI, with a season-high six against Mercer in the same game as her three homers. Three was a magic number for Loftin, as she hit three doubles in a 10-9 eight-inning win against Elon on March 20. This broke UNCG’s single-game doubles record.
Loftin hit her first-collegiate grand slam in an 8-1 win over Rider on February 19 and crushed her second in a 6-2 victory against Michigan State on March 10.
The Spartans reached the century mark in home runs this season, the first SoCon team to reach triple digits in homers in a season. UNCG hit 102, bypassing its record of 90 from last season. UNCG concluded the season with a 39-18 overall mark and a 16-2 SoCon record. This was the 19th time in program history with at least 30 wins in a season, and seventh time under 10th-year head coach Janelle Breneman.
UNCG was voted the preseason favorite and earned the first round bye in the SoCon Tournament after winning two of three games against Samford during the final series. Defeating Samford, the Spartans made it 10-straight SoCon series wins, dating back to the 2021 season. The regular season title was the fifth straight for UNCG.
2022 Extra Inning Softball All-Freshman Team
Bri Ellis, IF, Auburn
Cori McMillan, IF, Radford
Cydney Sanders, IF, Arizona State
Ella Chancey, IF, Charlotte
Emily Winstead, P, UNC Wilmington
Emma Lemley, P, Virginia Tech
Grace Loftin, OF, UNC Greensboro
Jada Cecil, P, UC San Diego
Jordy Bahl, P, Oklahoma
Kendra Falby, OF, Florida
Kya Matter, P, UMBC
Michaela Edenfield, C, Florida State
Sarah Haendiges, P, Oregon State
Sierra Sacco, OF, Louisiana Tech
Tatum Kresley, OF, Maryland-Eastern Shore
Taylor Hill, UT, Seton Hall