This is a news release from Jones County Junior College
Tori Dew made the adjustment from high school to junior college softball look easy.
"I only hit one home run my senior year," the Jones County Junior College first baseman said. "I honestly never thought about getting all of this recognition."
Dew, a freshman from Quitman, enjoyed a phenomenal first-year junior college campaign.
For her efforts, she was named the Dudley NJCAA Division II Softball Player of the Year on Wednesday. It is the first time for the NJCAA to have the awards in softball.
Dew earned the MACJC "Triple Crown" and barely missed out on the national version.
She led the nation with a .602 batting average and 104 RBIs. She finished tied for second with 20 home runs. She was second nationally with a 1.111 slugging percentage, a .665 on-base percentage and was third with 27 doubles.
Dew was named a first-team NJCAA Division II All-American, to the All-NJCAA Division II All-Tournament Team and All-Region 23.
"I cannot think of a more deserving person to get this award than Tori," said JCJC head coach Chris Robinson. "She worked her tail off and it has really paid off with all of the accolades she has received. She is such a humble, Christian kid and comes from a very good family.
"She is the kind of kid we want to surround our program with at Jones."
Dew credits her teammates, along with Robinson and assistant coaches Bob Herrington and Carlos Castro, for keeping her focused this year.
"The awards were never really a goal," she said. "The coaches and girls are such good motivators. If the day is going bad for you, they can always say or do something that will put a smile on your face.
"When I started, I thought it would be a big change from high school fast-pitch. I thought I would be challenged more, but our coaches did a great job working with me. They have transformed me into a totally different player than I was in high school."
Castro is the JCJC hitting coach. Dew and Robinson said Castro's instruction was important for her success.
"Coach Castro helped me anytime I asked him, whether it was one-on-one work or whatever I needed," she said. "But all three coaches helped me out and were so great to play for this year."
"I can't say enough about Coach Castro and the things he did with her," Robinson added. "But you also have to credit her teammates because she had good players hitting in front of her and behind her. You had (Lauren) Holifield, (Brittany) Seale and (Makenzie) Hawkins behind her, so who are you going to pitch to in certain situations?
"But Tori's success just speaks volumes to what kind of hard work she put in this year."
The Lady Bobcats enjoyed a banner year as a team.
They posted a 52-6 record (a single season school record for wins in a season), finished as runner ups in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament and were ranked No. 2 in the final poll of the season behind national champion LSU-Eunice.
Dew said it was the chemistry away from the diamond that made the season memorable.
"We all got along so well, both on the field and off the field," she said. "That first night here back in the fall we were playing cards and became friends. We became best friends off the field and that was really special."
The Lady Bobcats only lose four sophomores off of this year's team. Dew said the number of players returning next year should help the team be solid again, but she knows they must continue to work hard.
"We had a great year, but you can never be satisfied," she said. "We are going to come out and try to do better next year. We have a lot of experience returning, so we will be expecting more out of ourselves.
"Everybody plays such a big role on the team. Whether you are on the field or in the dugout, you know what your role is."
Academically, Dew also shined as a freshman. She had a GPA of over 3.0 and is majoring in Special Education and Coaching.
"Between going to school and playing ball and getting back late after games, I did OK," she said of her work in the classroom.
Robinson said the recognition of Dew by Dudley and the NJCAA is a major accomplishment for JCJC.
"This is a great thing for Tori and our program," he said. "Hopefully, it will catapult her into having another great year next year."
Robinson also noted that the NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year was Raven Cole of LSU-Eunice, another Region 23 school.
"What does that say about our region to have both the Player of the Year and the Pitcher of the Year?" he said.