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Four Jackets Earn CSC Academic All-District Honors

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech softball’s Sara Beth Allen, Grace Connelly, Emma Kauf and Kinsey Norton have each been selected to the 2023 College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team, the organization announced on Tuesday.

The quartet of Yellow Jackets represent the most honorees for the White and Gold in a single season in program history, each being recognized for the first time in their careers. The announcement marks the first time any Jacket has achieved the accomplishment based on performance on the court and in the classroom since 2012.

To be named Academic All-District, a student-athlete must have maintained a career GPA of 3.5 or higher as well as on-field status as a starter or important reserve.

Allen has brought an explosive bat all season, adding pop to the lineup with a team-leading 13 home runs to finish eighth in the league along with 35 RBI on the year. Launching dingers for three straight days in the ACC/B1G Challenge early in the season, the slugger continued to make her presence felt with a walk-off home run for a 7-6 victory over Penn State and more round trippers against Tech’s toughest competition including previous No. 5 Clemson, then No. 7 Florida State and former No. 10 Duke. Her bombs against the latter two foes gave the White and Gold a late lead against the top-10 opponents, while her blast against the former secured the most runs the Tigers had surrendered on the season at the time. As a result, challengers pitched around Allen as she ranked third in the ACC in walks per game (0.65). Allen concluded her junior season with 31 hits and five doubles as she slugged .564 with a .389 on-base percentage.

During Connelly’s first season as Tech’s mainstay at second, the sophomore came through in the biggest moments as she led the squad with a pair of grand slams. The Suwanee, Ga., native was instrumental for the Yellow Jackets in the I-75 Tournament, going yard twice to propel the White and Gold to a 3-0 weekend. Connelly came up big once more against recent No. 10 Duke, hammering a go-ahead solo shot in the top of the seventh. Prone to diving stops in the field, the second baseman also went on a tear with eight RBI over a week’s span, finishing with 31 for the year, the third most on the team. On the season, Connelly tied for second on the squad with 39 hits along with six doubles, a triple and six home runs. Connelly batted .242 with a .404 slugging percentage in 2023.

Kauf tallies yet another award for her decorated season as she’s already been named All-ACC Second Team and to the ACC All-Tournament Team this year. Most recently, the lauded Jacket batted .500 in the ACC tournament as she went 4-for-8 with a pair of RBI, leading Georgia Tech to the quarterfinals and an upset of host Notre Dame. Living up to her lofty expectations as a preseason top-10 catcher and top-100 player by D1Softball (No. 8/85) and Extra Inning Softball (No. 10/81), Kauf finished top 10 in the conference in triples per game (third), doubles per game (sixth) and runs per game (seventh). The steady presence led the Jacket bats in nearly every category through the year, fronting the squad by batting .354 with 56 hits, 14 doubles and four triples while slugging .627 with a .446 on-base percentage. Kauf also went yard seven times this season to rack up 33 RBI. Kauf’s team-best tears this season included a seven-game hitting streak and a 13-game stretch of reaching base.

Adding vital depth to Tech’s pitching staff, Norton finished the season as a top closer, tying second on the squad with a pair of saves. The Woodstock, Ga., native made two starts through 18 appearances on the year, totaling 21 strikeouts in 26 innings of work. Opponents batted .278 overall against her.

The 2023 Academic All-District Teams, selected by College Sports Communicators, recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field or court and in the classroom. Academic All-District honorees advance to the CSC Academic All-America ballot. First, second and third-team Academic All-America honorees will be announced June 6.

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