Pennington named Southern Conference Player of the Year

Pennington named Southern Conference Player of the Year

Back in November Nikki Pennington wasn't even sure if she was going to be able to play this season after injuring her right knee.

Five months later the Eastern Florida State College shortstop has been named the Southern Conference Player of the Year.

"I definitely didn't think I would be playing this season. With the help of athletic trainer Patti (Denny), I was able to get back out here, and my teammates definitely pushed me hard to get back and playing again," Pennington said Tuesday as the Titans prepare to open the NJCAA District/FCSAA State Tournament on May 2.

The sophomore missed the first 13 games of the season, coming back on Feb. 15 against the State College of Manatee. And she came back in grand fashion, crushing a home run.

"When I hit that home run in my first at-bat, I felt like everything would be OK and this year won't be too bad," Pennington said. "I was just excited to be back on the field."

The Palm Bay native went on to play in 40 games, hitting .482 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and scored 38 runs for the 31-23 Titans.

"I definitely wasn't expecting to be Player of the Year after seeing the season Indian River's Juliana Speranza had, definitely thought she was going to win," Pennington said. "So when coach Jim (Beitia) told me Tuesday morning, it was definitely a surprise."

Nothing surprises coach Beitia when it comes to Pennington who is the leader both on and off the field for the Titans. 

"She is one of those once-in-a-decade type players," Beitia said. "She makes everybody around her better and demands a lot from her teammates and has all the talent in the world."