NEWARK, Del. -- High-scoring women’s basketball All-American Elena Delle Donne and slugging first baseman Jimmy Yezzo of the baseball team were named the UD Alumni Association Outstanding Female and Male Athlete of the Year and basketball player Chelsea Craig and football player Paul Worrilow earned the prestigious Mary Ann Hitchens and Edgar Johnson awards to highlight the annual University of Delaware Athletics Awards Banquet Tuesday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.
The event drew over 500 student-athletes, coaches, and staff as Delaware celebrated a successful 2012-13 athletics season. UD Alumni Association Vice President Ken Jones presented the Athlete of the Year Awards while Johnson and Hitchens were on-hand to present awards named in their honor. UD Director of Athletics Multimedia Jimmy Smith served as the master of ceremonies.
Most Valuable Players for each of the 21 UD athletics teams were recognized as were the Sportsmanship Award winners for each program. In addition, 26 student-athletes were recognized as the newest members of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society. In order to be qualified for the honor, student-athletes must be a junior or senior and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or higher.
The Outstanding Athlete Award winners were selected by a vote of the UD head coaches while the Hitchens and Johnson Awards were selected by a vote of UD athletics administrators.
The Johnson and Hitchens Awards are presented to a senior letterwinner who has exhibited the qualities of hard work, dedication, leadership, fairness, and striving for excellence that were the hallmarks of Johnson’s and Hitchens’ career. Johnson served as UD Director of Athletics for 25 years while Hitchens was a pioneer in women’s athletics and served as UD’s Associate Director of Athletics as part of a 41-year career at Delaware.
Worrilow and Delle Donne were not present to accept their awards as each was in training camp with their respective professional teams. Delle Donne is playing with the Chicago Sky of the WNBA while Worrilow has earned a free agent tryout with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Delle Donne becomes the first women’s basketball player to win the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year Award since Tyresa Smith in 2007 while Yezzo becomes the first UD baseball player to earn the top athlete award since Courtney Batts in 1998. In addition, Yezzo becomes the first underclassmen to earn the award as previously the award was open only to seniors.
Delle Donne made a lasting mark at the University of Delaware not only as one of the most outstanding athletes in NCAA women’s basketball history, but also for her work as an exceptional student. Nearly every record and honor imaginable came Delle Donne’s way during her four-year career as she led the Delaware basketball squad to new heights, including this past season when the veteran-laden Blue Hens posted a record of 32-4, won the CAA title, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
A three-time CAA Player of the Year and a two-time consensus All-American, Delle Donne was a finalist for nearly every national Player of the Year Award the last two seasons and earned the prestigious Honda Award as the top women’s basketball player in the nation this past April. In addition, she was the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky last month and will begin her professional career in June.
Delle Donne’s statistics were staggering. She led the nation in scoring in 2011-12 and finished second two other times while finishing her career as the No. 5 leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points. She also set CAA career records for points, field goals, free throws, and blocked shots, and established an incredible 45 UD game, season, and career standards.
In the classroom, the Wilmington, Del. native (Ursuline Academy) was a human services major who became just the fourth person in history to twice be named the Capital One National Academic All-American of the Year for women’s basketball. She also was a two-time CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women’s basketball and is a strong candidate to win her second consecutive CAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year this summer.
The University of Delaware baseball squad has played itself into the thick of the Colonial Athletic Association championship race each of the last two seasons, and Yezzo, a junior first baseman, has played a huge role in that resurgence.
A native of Cherry Hill, N.J. (Bishop Eustace HS), Yezzo has steadily improved his game to the point where he now stands as one of the most feared hitters not only in the CAA but in the entire nation.
A health behavior sciences major, Yezzo has led the Blue Hens to an impressive record of 31-19 and a fourth place spot in the CAA standings. Delaware will host James Madison in the CAA regular season finale this weekend and then head to Harrisonburg, Va. for the CAA Tournament next week.
Yezzo’s rise to the top of the NCAA statistics has been an impressive one and his sizzling offensive statistics have made him a strong candidate for the CAA Player of the Year Award as well as the Golden Spikes National Player of the Year Award.
The 2013 CAA Pre-Season Player of the Year, Yezzo has lived up to that lofty billing as he entered this week batting .419 with 88 hits in 210 at bats to go with 25 doubles, 12 home runs, 58 runs batted in, and 20 walks. He has started all 50 games this season and has committed just one error in 476 chances.
He leads the CAA in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in and his vying to become the first player to win the CAA Triple Crown since James Madison’s Kellen Kulbacki in 2006. Yezzo also ranks among the NCAA Division I leaders in hits (No. 1), doubles (No. 1), total bases (No. 2), doubles per game (No. 3), batting average (No. 4), slugging percentage (No. 5), and runs batted in (No. 13). He has 30 multiple-hit games and 15 multiple-RBI games this season and at one point had reached base safely in 44 straight games, a mark that led the nation at the time.
The 2012 CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Yezzo batted a team-best .358 a year ago when he blasted eight home runs and knocked in 46 runs in leading the Blue Hens to a runner-up finish at the CAA Tournament.
Worrilow, a native of Wilmington, Del. (Concord High School), excelled on the playing field and in the community throughout his career. A history major, Worrilow was a four-year starter who earned All-CAA honors three times and was a Sports Network All-American this past fall when he led the CAA in tackles with 107 stops. He also played in the Texas vs. the USA All-Star game back in January and finished his career ranked No. 5 all-time in Delaware history with 377 tackles.
A two-year team captain, Worrilow led the way in numerous community initiatives by the Blue Hen football team throughout his career and was a nominee for both the Chuck Boone Leadership Award and the Allstate Good Works team sponsored by the AFCA. Among his most notable contributions came in May, 2011 when he selflessly took part in a life-saving bone marrow and T Cell donation as part of the Be the Match Program.
Craig, a native of Rockville, Md. (Wootton HS), combined hard work and dedication throughout her Delaware career to excel in the classroom and the community while leading her team to unprecedented success on the court.
A three-year letterwinner, she played a backup role but her leadership and commitment to her teammates helped Delaware enjoy unprecedented success over the last two seasons as the Blue Hens won 63 games, captured consecutive undefeated CAA titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice, including a first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 in 2013.
She carries a 3.5 grade point average as an exercise science and business administration major with minors in chemistry and Spanish. She served as Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) President and Vice-President, led Delaware’s participation in the 2013 CAA Food Drive Challenge, served as chair of the 2012 Pigskin Pass program that raised over $14,000 for Special Olympics, helped coordinate two Student-Athlete Talent Shows, took part in the Relay for Life, and was a Hens Peer Mentor.
The 21 individual sport UD Team Sportsmanship Award winners were: Worrilow (football), Craig (women’s basketball), Ben Raymond (men’s soccer), Jillian Meyers (volleyball), Morgan Hudson (field hockey), Melissa Pennington (women’s soccer), Kayla Koonz (cross country and outdoor track & field), Kyle Anderson (men’s basketball), Matt McCarthy (men’s swimming & diving), Mark Kay Harris (women’s swimming & diving), Spencer Nendza (indoor track & field), Bruce “Beau” Jones (men’s lacrosse), Abby Wheble (women’s lacrosse), Nick Ferdinand (baseball), Shelby Jones (softball), Alex Sweet (men’s tennis), Amanda Halstrom (women’s tennis), Niño Rosal (men’s golf), Andrea Slane (women’s golf), and Ally Crossman (rowing). Both Craig and Halstrom earned the award for the third time in their careers.
A total of 26 student-athletes who were honored as members of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society. To be eligible, student-athletes must have at least junior eligibility and carry a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade point average. The were: Connor Hibbs (baseball), Jake Clark (baseball), Kasey Prettyman (field hockey), Chris Herbert (men’s lacrosse), Zachary Lowe (men’s swimming & diving), Michael Moore (men’s swimming & diving), Hannah Rust (softball), Alissa Alker (volleyball), Craig (women’s basketball), Delle Donne (women’s basketball), Katie Deinert (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Alex Finocchio (cross country), Emily Gispert (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Lauren Huston (cross country), Alyssa Kennedy (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Lindsay Prettyman (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Nicole Rittman (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Alana Pantale (indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Emma Sidoriak (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Courtney Sniscak (indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Rachel Wasserman (cross country/indoor track & field/outdoor track & field), Polly Reinicker (women’s soccer), Megan Northshield (women’s swimming & diving), Alexandra Brown (women’s swimming & diving), Halstrom (women’s tennis), and Dorothy Safron (women’s tennis).
The 21 individual sport Most Valuable Players were also honored. Below are biographies on each of the winners:
BASKETBALL: Senior guard/forward Elena Delle Donne (see information above)
CROSS COUNTRY: Junior Lindsay Prettyman (Newark, Del./St. Mark’s HS) was named Most Valuable Player for the second straight year following a season that saw her lead the team in all seven meets in which she competed. An honor student and a candidate for Academic All-American honors, she posted three top 10 finishes during the fall and was the overall champion at both the Lehigh Invitational and the Delaware Invitational. She also led the team with a 17th place finish at the CAA Championships held at William & Mary.
GOLF: Only a sophomore, Amanda Terzian (Haverford, Pa./Episcopal Academy) led the team with an 80.76 stroke average and recorded three top 20 finishes on the season. She enjoyed her best finish with an eighth place showing at the William & Mary Invitational this spring and she also placed 21st at the CAA Championships in leading the Blue Hens to a fifth place team finish in only their second season as a varsity sport.
FIELD HOCKEY: Senior midfielder Nikki Onorato (Hummelstown, Pa./Hershey HS) was one of just three seniors on the squad and her leadership played a big part in the Blue Hens winning eight games and advancing to the CAA Tournament semifinals. Onorato played in 20 games with 17 starts in 2012 and was among the team scoring leaders with four goals. She finished her outstanding career with 10 goals scored.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD: Sophomore Latoya James (Kingston, Jamaica/Alpha Academy) was selected as the Most Valuable Player following another outstanding year in which she excelled in hurdles, sprints, and jumps. James captured four individual meet titles during the winter season and culminated the year with a second place finish at the ECAC Championships when she earned All-East honors with a second place finish in the 60 meter hurdles She also tied her own school record in that event with a time of 8.47 seconds. Also a standout during the outdoor track & field season, she won the CAA Outdoor 100 meter hurdles title and earned All-East honors with a fifth place showing at the ECAC Championships.
LACROSSE: Sophomore midfielder Caitlin McCartney (Doylestown, Pa./Archbishop Wood HS) was honored at MVP for the second straight season. The 2012 CAA Rookie of the Year, McCartney earned first team All-CAA honors for the second straight season this spring after leading the team with 41 goals and 46 points. She scored three or more goals in a game nine times this past spring and upped her two-year career goals scored total to 76. The Blue Hens posted 10 wins this season, including three over NCAA Tournament teams.
OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD: Senior Vicky Caruso (Stockholm, N.J./Walkill Valley HS) captured the team Most Valuable Player Award in women’s outdoor track & field for the fourth straight season following another record-setting campaign. The standout sprinter was the team’s top performer at the Colonial Athletic Association meet last week as she was named the Meet Outstanding Performer in leading the Blue Hens to an all-time CAA best second place team finish. Caruso defended her title in the 200 meters, helped win the 4 x 400 meter relay, placed second in the 4 x 100 meter relay, and was third in the 400 meter dash. She also earned All-East honors with a sixth place showing in the 200 meters at the ECAC Championships. She will compete at the NCAA Regionals in North Carolina later this month.
ROWING: The Most Valuable Player award went to senior Bethany Callaway (Seaford, Del./Sussex Tech HS). A four-year letterwinner, Callaway was a key member of the team’s Varsity Eights crew all season long in the No. 2 spot. She led her Varsity Eights crew to the team’s best finish at the Dad Vail Regatta last week as she led the crew to the semifinals and an overall 17th place finish. She will lead the Blue Hens into the Colonial Athletic Association Championships this weekend in Virginia. Among her top performances this season were a fourth place finish at the Murphy Cup and a sixth place showing in the petite final at the Occoquan Sprints.
SOFTBALL: Senior third baseman Lara Andrews (Wellington, New Zealand/Sacred Heart College HS/Itawamba [Miss.] CC) is the winner of the Most Valuable Player Award for softball. Andrews led the Blue Hens to one of their finest seasons in school history this spring with a record of 35-22 and a third place finish in the CAA regular season standings. The Blue Hens advanced to the CAA Tournament for the third straight year before falling to Towson in the second round. An honor student, Andrews earned CAA All-Tournament honors after starting all 57 games and batting .313 with 11 doubles, and a team-high four home runs, 28 runs batted in, and 16 sacrifice hits.
SOCCER: Senior forward Ali Miller (Sinking Spring, Pa./Wilson HS) earned MVP honors for women’s soccer after completing an outstanding season and career for the Blue Hens. A four-year standout at forward, Miller was a two-time first team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and a third team All-Region pick a year ago. An honor student as a Spanish education major, she was the team’s leading scorer each of the last three seasons and finished her career among Delaware’s all-time leading goal-scorers with 29.
SWIMMING & DIVING: Senior Courtney Raw (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery HS) earned the team Most Valuable Player honors for the second straight year after leading the Blue Hens to an 8-3 dual meet mark and a sixth place finish at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships. The team captain earned two top five finishes at the CAA meet this past winter when she was fourth in the 200 freestyle relay and fifth in the 200 medley relay while also placing 16th individually in the 200 backstroke. She also competed at the US Winter Nationals.
TENNIS: The women’s tennis Most Valuable Player Award goes to junior Dorothy Safron(New York, N.Y./Professional Children's School). An honor student, Safron led the Blue Hen netters to a 12-6 dual record and the team’s first-ever berth in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semifinals. She posted a record of 17-10 at the No. 1 singles spot and a 16-13 mark in doubles on the way to earning second team All-CAA honors in singles and third team All-CAA laurels in doubles. She ranks No. 12 all-time in Delaware history with 58 career singles victories.
VOLLEYBALL: Senior outside hitter Alissa Alker (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS) earned the MVP award for the volleyball squad. A four-year starter and an honor student, Alker led the Hens to a four-year record of 84-41, three CAA titles, and two NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2012 co-captain was a three-time All-CAA selection and a 2011 all-region pick. She led the team with 329 kills and 395 points last fall and finished her career as one of Delaware’s all-time leaders in both kills (No. 6 with 1,319) and digs (No. 15 with 1,078).
BASEBALL: Junior first baseman Jimmy Yezzo earned the Papp Lukk MVP Award (see information above)
BASKETBALL: Junior guard Devon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./Aberdeen HS/Winchendon Prep, Mass.) earned the Colonel C.B. Shaffer Most Valuable Player Award for the second straight season following another stellar campaign in the Blue Hen backcourt. He served as co-captain for the second straight season as he earned first team All-District II and first team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors. He led the team to a 19-14 record, a second place finish in the CAA regular season standings, and a berth in the CAA Tournament semifinals this season as he ranked No. 18 in the nation in scoring with 19.9 points per game. He scored 20 or more points in a game 16 times last season and upped his career total to 1,607 points heading into his senior year.
FOOTBALL: Senior linebacker Paul Worrilow earned the UD Alumni Association MVP Award (see information above)
GOLF: Freshman Braden Shattuck (Aston, Pa./Sun Valley HS) was the winner of this year’s John J. DeLuca/Scotty Duncan Memorial Team Most Valuable Player Award and was the lone UD freshman to earn an MVP award this season. He recorded a memorable rookie campaign as he paced the Blue Hens with a 74.45 stroke average and was the squad’s top finisher in six tournaments, including taking medalist honors at the Villanova Invitational. He recorded 15 top 20 finishes during the year, including a 14th place finish at the CAA Championships in April.
LACROSSE: High-scoring midfielder Nick Diachenko (Courtice, Ontario/Holy Trinity HS) earned the Most Valuable Player Award for the men’s lacrosse team following an outstanding senior year. Diachenko earned second team All-CAA honors after leading the Blue Hens in scoring all season and finishing the year with 39 goals, the fifth best total in the league. He also dished out four assists and finished with 39 points while scooping up 12 groundballs and causing five turnovers. He scored multiple goals in a game 13 times, recorded four hat tricks, and finished his career with 67 goals and nine hat tricks.
SOCCER: Sophomore defender Ignacio Martin (La Laguna, Spain/The British School of Tenerife HS) was the winner of the team Most Valuable Player Award for men’s soccer. A two-year standout on defense, Martin started all 19 games in 2012 as he spearheaded a defense that allowed just 1.6 goals per game and recorded three shutouts while allowing a single goal in six other contests. As a freshman in 2012, Martin started 15 games and played a key role on defense for a team that won 13 games, captured the CAA Tournament title, and won a first round game in the NCAA Tournament.
SWIMMING & DIVING: Senior Ryan Roberts (Emmaus, Pa./Emmaus HS) earned the Jack & Hugh Dougherty Team Most Valuable Player Award for swimming and diving for the third straight year. A four-year standout and this year’s team co-captain, Roberts recorded 20 top five finishes in eight different events at the CAA Championships during his career, including six this past season. A four-time CAA champion, including capturing a pair of 200 backstroke individual titles, he also recorded five other runner-up finishes at the conference meet. He ranks in the top 10 all-time at Delaware in 10 events and holds UD records in the 200 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 500 freestyle, and 800 freestyle relay.
TENNIS: Junior tennis player Adam Lawton (Estepona, Spain/Sek-El Castillo HS) received the Alexander J. Taylor MVP Award for the second consecutive season. A second-year transfer from Virginia Tech, Lawton enjoyed a record-setting season in 2012-13 as he posted a mark of 27-6 in singles play and teamed with Troy Beneck for a 23-8 record in doubles action. Both win totals established school records at Delaware. In addition, Lawton earned second team All-CAA honors in singles play and was a third team All-CAA choice in doubles play. His 44 career singles wins ranks No. 18 all-time at UD.