• Kylee Smith tosses a strike towards the plate during the 2019 season. The North Georgia ace led all NCAA Division II pitchers with an ERA of 0.73 and was an integral part of the Nighthawks’ success during the 2019 season.

UNG's Kylee Smith earns second-straight national Pitcher of the Year honor

For the second straight season, Kylee Smith had proven herself to be one of the most dominant forces on the mound in NCAA Division II softball.

The Nighthawks’ ace obliterated the competition and baffled opposing batters with devastating speed changes, solid command and pin point location throughout the 2019 season.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when the North Georgia junior earned her second straight Ron Lenz National Pitcher of the Year award on Wednesday, May 22, for her sensational efforts on the bump during the 2019 season.

The award, given out by the NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA), marked the fifth time in program history that a North Georgia pitcher has been selected for the honor.

Smith joined former North Georgia pitcher Courtney Poole, who received the honor in 2015 and 2016, in winning the award in back-to-back seasons; a feat that has only been accomplished by three pitchers in the award’s 13-year history.

A native of Suwannee, Smith completed the season with a 30-4 record and helped lead the Nighthawks to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals. Smith complied a host of stellar statistics in her junior season for North Georgia. The crafty pitcher led all NCAA Division II softball pitchers with an ERA of 0.73, finished second nationally in strikeouts with 318, finished second nationally in hits allowed per game, third nationally in wins, fourth nationally in shutouts with 12 and fifth nationally in strikeouts per seven innings. Smith also tossed four no-hitters during the 2019 season for North Georgia and recorded the fifth perfect game in the program’s history when she shutdown USC Aiken on April 19.

Smith’s dominance over her first three seasons with the Nighthawks has allowed the junior to move her way up the Peach Belt Conference’s all-time leader board rankings. With one season remaining, Smith is tied for third on the PBC’s all-time wins list, is sixth on the PBC’s all-time strikeout list and eighth on the PBC’s career innings pitched list.

During the course of the 2019 season, Smith earned PBC Pitcher of the Week honors a record seven times. In her three seasons, Smith has earned the PBC Pitcher of the Week honor 14 times. The junior has been named the PBC Pitcher of the Year in all three of her seasons with the Nighthawks. Smith also earned NFCA National Pitcher of the Week honors at the beginning of April.

A testament to the strength of the North Georgia softball pitching staff’s arms, Smith’s selection as the Ron Lenz National Pitcher of the Year marks the sixth time in the last 10 years that a North Georgia pitcher has received the honor.

Smith was also named a D2CCA first team All-American for the third straight season for her role in North Georgia’s sixth straight PBC title, becoming the fifth player in program history to be a consensus All-American. Smith joined Poole in becoming one of only two players to be a consensus first teamer twice in program history and is the only player in program history to be named an All-American three times in her career.

The awards may keep coming for the Nighthawks’ ace, as Smith was named to the NFCA Top 10 Player of the Year Finalist list for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player and Pitcher of the Year awards earlier this month. The selection as a finalist marks the third time Smith has received the honor in her career and also marks the fifth straight season that a North Georgia student athlete has been named to the list.

Smith will find out if she needs to make more room in her trophy case when the winner is announced tomorrow, May 30.

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