LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For her impressive offensive efforts in helping lead second-ranked Florida (52-7) to the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament title, freshman outfielder Kirsti Merritt has been selected as the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week for May 14.
“I’m thankful to the NFCA for being honored, this is very exciting, but our success last weekend was a team effort,” Merritt said. “Everyone really stepped up in the SEC Tournament, and we had a lot of fun in Lexington (Ky.) playing the game we love. We’re excited to get the NCAA Tournament started and see what this team can do in postseason play.”
The Lake Panasoffkee, Fla., product was tabbed as the SEC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after batting .455 (5-for-11) with five runs scored, two steals, two HR’s and seven RBIs while helping UF to victories over No. 9 Alabama, Georgia and No. 8 Missouri. Against the defending national champion Crimson Tide in the quarterfinal round, Merritt tied career highs in hits and RBIs by going 3-for-4 at the dish, hitting what eventually turned out to be the game-winning three-run HR (broke a 4-4 dead-lock in the bottom of the sixth) and recording five RBIs. She singled and scored during the 9-5 semifinal triumph over Georgia and then broke a 2-2 tie against No. 8 Missouri via a two-run blast in the bottom of the third frame of Florida’s 10-4, title-securing victory.
Merritt is currently hitting .305 for the year with 47 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples, six HR’s and 29 RBIs while also boasting 17 steals in 20 total attempts.
“We’re very excited about this recognition for Kirsti after her great week of play, which helped propel the Gators to the SEC Tournament Championship,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “Kirsti played a huge role; she had a lot of clutch RBIs and hits – several with two outs and two strikes. This honor is an exclamation point to how fun she was to watch play last week.”