Four UNCW Softball players receive All-CAA honors

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WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW Sports)–UNCW junior catcher Jada Santiago has been named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association Softball First Team in voting by the league’s eight head coaches.

Santiago, from Pine Level, N.C., headlines a group of four Seahawks recognized on the All-CAA Teams, revealed on Tuesday ahead of the 2021 CAA Softball Championship. Junior pitcher/infielder Logan Bjorson and junior first baseman Janel Gamache earned spots on the All-CAA Second Team, while freshman infielder Tayler Vitola received All-Rookie Team distinction.

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The Seahawks’ second-leading hitter with a .390 average, Santiago started all 38 games and paced the team with 36 runs batted in, while her 41 hits ranked second. She also laced a team-high 11 doubles and posted 12 multi-hit games, including a three-hit effort at Charleston on Apr. 17.

A three-year starter for Coach Kristy Norton, Santiago has tallied 96 hits in 108 games, including 10 home runs, while driving in 68 runs.

“As the season continued, Jada continued to get better at the plate,” said Norton. “She often played a huge role late in the game when we needed a big inning – whether that was drawing intentional walks or getting a big base hit.”

Bjorson was one of the Seahawks’ top pitchers this season, compiling a 5-0 record in appearances and matching the school record with three saves. The Indian Trail, N.C., product posted a 3.74 earned run average and held opposing batters to a .246 batting average.

The junior righthander earned CAA Pitcher of the Week honors on May 4 after guiding the Seahawks to a series win over Elon. She recorded a win in the series opener and secured the series-clinching victory with 5.1 innings of scoreless relief in the finale. Bjorson also hit .214 with one home run and 12 runs batted in, while collecting 21 hits in 37 games.

“Logan had an exceptional year in the circle and came up with some big at-bats in the second half of the season,” according to the Seahawks’ skipper. “She is so mentally tough and has a lot of tools in her box. With that combination, she is just going to continue getting better as an athlete.”

Gamache, the Seahawks’ leader with a .391 average, paced the squad with 45 hits, including five home runs. The Exeter, R.I., native also registered 13 multi-hit games, including a pair of three-hit performances at Charleston on Apr. 17-18.

In addition to her efforts at the plate, Gamache compiled a 3.40 earned run average in 21 appearances in the circle and ranked second on the team with 36 strikeouts in 55.2 innings.

Norton said, “Janel was a team-first performer. She found a way to help wherever the team needed her. She pitched, played at first base and second base, and saw time as our designated player. Being named All-CAA is a well-deserved honor for her.”

Vitola started all 38 games in her freshman campaign and ranked third on the team with a .368 batting average. The Middletown, Del., product paced the Seahawks with 28 runs, while her 43 hits were second on the team. In addition, she registered a team-high 14 multi-hit games and carved out a 10-game hitting streak from Feb. 28-Mar. 20.

“Tayler really came on strong early in the year and led our team in batting average for the first half of the season,” Norton said. “She had a great freshman year and I am glad our conference recognized how good of an athlete she is.”

The Seahawks finished the 2021 campaign with a 15-23 record, including a 9-9 mark in CAA play.