Maryville College's Essence Strambler earned Player of the Week honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association on Wednesday, as the sophomore led the Scots to a 6-0 mark last week.
Strambler joins a trio of other Scots earning accolades from last week's strong effort. MC's Nicole Blackburn and Katlyn Smith swept the USA South pitching awards, while Taylor Campbell was named the USA South Rookie of the Week.
Strambler recorded hits in each of her last three games, as the sophomore power hitter has a hit in five of her last six contests. She hit .471 on the week, while recording a staggering 14 RBI.
"She's having an outstanding sophomore year," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "Coming into it her freshman year, she had a lot of potential. She knew it, and I knew it. This fall, she really focused more on her hitting. Last year, we let her defense affect her. This year, her focus was more on her hitting. I think moving her to the outfield has really helped her with that. Her focus is now mostly in the box. She's seeing the ball very, very well right now, and she does an outstanding job in practice. That is carrying over into games."
Strambler helped the Scots to the perfect record on the week, as they outscored opponents 64-0. In USA South play this year, Maryville has posted a 92-2 score while rolling off 90 unanswered runs in their last eight league games.
Strambler was a key part to that success. Along with her 14 RBI – more than half her season total – the left fielder added two doubles, two home runs and six runs on eight hits. She had five stolen bases, while tallying a .941 slugging percentage.
Her two homers give her five on the season, as she leads Maryville and ranks second among USA South schools in the category.
"She's always had probably one of the most beautiful swings that I have ever seen," Kelley said. "When she makes contact, you know the ball is going to go. She swings hard, and she hits the ball hard. It just shows how hard she's worked in practice. She never gave up. She struggled a little bit last year, and I think that speaks volumes about her that she never gave up. She knew how good she is and that she was going to get through it. It's exciting to see the success that she has. That's just her and her character working through it for the success that she's having."
In an 11-0 rout of LaGrange College on March 13, Strambler went 2-for-3 with a home run. She had a run scored and four RBI in the game, before going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI in the 6-0 second game.
Against Covenant College on March 16, Strambler had two RBI in a hitless effort in game one with a pair of stolen bases. She came back for a 1-for-2 mark in game two, while adding two more RBI and a run scored.
Finally, against Berea College on March 18, the sophomore went 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs in a 15-0 win. She had a double, two walks and two stolen bases. In the 16-0 win, she was 1-for-3 with two RBI, as the left fielder had at least two RBI in each of the six games.
On the season, Strambler leads the squad with a .449 batting average and 28 RBI. She also leads Maryville with her five dingers, while scoring 17 runs in 22 games.
"That speaks volumes about her," Kelley said. "To be so young and lead us in all those categories, I don't think we've had anybody do that since I've been here. She's going to be here the next couple of years. I'm excited to see how she finishes out her sophomore year, but I'm also excited to see her junior and senior year. There's still stuff that a player can work on, so it's exciting knowing how successful she is now and how successful she's going to be later."
Maryville is in Clermont, Fla. this week for spring break. The Scots defeated Manchester University 9-1 today, after falling in their first game, 7-3, to Plymouth State.
The Orange and Garnet open play tomorrow at 9 a.m. against New York's Union College.