Saturday, June 22, 2013

FOV Cavalier of the Year #11/#12

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as the Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide; that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been the most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight. The full list of nominees is here.

Over the next few weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University this year. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; the point is to emphasize that UVA is about excellence across the
entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. The previous winners are Danny Hultzen (2009, 2011), Diego Restrepo (2010), and Mike Scott and Morgan Brian (2012); today's athlete's are Melanie Mitchell and Paige Selenski.
Melanie Mitchell - Softball - Pitcher

Team accomplishments:

-- none

Personal accomplishments:

-- NFCA all-region first team
-- VaSID all-state first team
-- One-time ACC Pitcher of the Week
-- UVA career leader in wins, strikeouts, innings, complete games, starts, and appearances

Couldn't really call it a great season for UVA softball.  Not when it results in the resignation of the head coach.  In Melanie Mitchell's senior season, though, she capped off an outstanding career by breaking every record she could find.  Most of those you see above actually fell in the middle of the season, leaving the rest of the year to just pad her lead.  The strikeouts record is perhaps the most impressive; Mitchell was definitely a strikeout pitcher, and became only the fourth pitcher in ACC history to top 1,100 career K's.

Plus, she was 16th in the country with 270 strikeouts and 3rd in the ACC as well - and 2nd place had 271.  And both pitchers ahead of her needed a lot more innings; Mitchell, in fact, led the conference in strikeouts per inning.  Definitely another case where a terrific player is graduating - the best pitcher in UVA history, really - and leaving behind major questions about replacing her.

Paige Selenski - Field hockey - Forward

Team accomplishments:

-- NCAA second round

Personal accomplishments:

-- NFHCA first-team all-American
-- NFHCA South Region POY
-- ACC Offensive POY
-- One-time ACC Player of the Week
-- Set UVA career points record
-- Finished 8th on national all-time points list
-- Virginia Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year for 2012

I haven't double-checked but I basically don't need to: Paige Selenski is the first UVA athlete that I've nominated four times for this award.  It's gotten automatic; Selenski is an absolute titan of her sport.  Not just at UVA - nationally and all-time.  She is only the 9th player to be named to four all-ACC teams and the 11th ACC player to be named an all-American four times as well.

Then there's the Portsmouth Sports Club.  Their Jamboree in February was the 67th such event, at which they customarily name a male and female collegiate athlete of the year in the state of Virginia.  Paige Selenski is the first - male or female - to win it twice.  And it happens as well that she's only the second UVA player to be named ACC POY.  In previous FOV COY voting, Selenski has only ever received one vote each year.  That number belies her status as one of UVA's all-time greats in any sport; the plain truth, no exaggeration, is that she's Ralph Sampson with a hockey stick and a skirt.

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