Best Named A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year; UCF Picked Second in Conference

Jan. 19, 2005

MACON, Ga. - For the third straight season, UCF shortstop Stephanie Best was chosen as the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year by the league's coaches. Joining her on the squad are outfielders Jania Shinhoster and Cici Alvarez.

Best is looking to become only the second A-Sun softball player to win both the preseason and regular season player of the year three consecutive seasons matching FAU's Nicole Myers, who accomplished the feat from 2000-02.

Best topped the A-Sun last season in virtually every offense category, including home runs (16), runs scored (55), total bases (137), and on-base percentage (.562). She was also in the top seven nationally with a .442 batting average and a .850 slugging percentage.

Centerfielder Jania Shinhoster was also selected to the preseason team for the third consecutive season. Shinhoster has started all 195 games for the Golden Knights in centerfield since the program's inception in 2002. The Miami native hit .339 with 10 homers and 41 RBI last season. Shinhoster only committed one error defensively, and accumulated 69 put-outs, tops on the team.

After a strong freshman season, leftfielder Cici Alvarez was not only named to the all-freshman team, but to the all-conference first team a season ago. Alvarez batted .308, and led the team swiping 17 stolen bases. She also added a team-high 24 sacrifice hits.

UCF was picked to finish in second place by both the A-Sun coaches, and the media. The Knights received a first-place vote in both polls. FAU is favored to win their ninth consecutive league championship. The Lady Owls also totaled eight votes to win the conference tournament in the coaches poll, while UCF took the other three votes. The Knights also got three votes by the media to win the A-Sun Tournament.

UCF was 42-21 a season ago, and tallied their best regular season finish in A-Sun conference play going 16-4 in conference action. UCF nearly won its first A-Sun Championship in only its third season in the program's history, but was unable to defeat top seed and host school Florida Atlantic in the tournament final.

The Knights open the regular season with a doubleheader at Bethune-Cookman on January 29th.