Georgia State's 2012-2013 campaign has been highlighted by two sun belt titles this spring, but another characteristic of this academic year has been spectacular play by Freshmen athletes. There are a number of first year players that performed well and the future certainly looks bright. In this edition of Chris' Corner I have decided to feature those athletes.
Probably the most publicized of the freshmen standouts was RJ Hunter, son of head basketball coach Ron Hunter. The list of accolades RJ received this year is long and distinguished: Six time CAA Rookie of the Week, Unanimous CAA Rookie of the Year, First Team All-CAA (the first freshmen to do so in over a decade), Lou Henson National Player of the Week, and Kyle Macy Award Finalist, given to the top freshman in division 1 basketball.
RJ's 38 point performance against Old Dominion was the best scoring output in all of college basketball that day. That day will live on in the memory of Panther basketball fans for a long time. RJ has the talent for many more memorable performances and could leave school as one of the most decorated players in Georgia State history.
The freshman golfer from England had one of the best individual seasons in Georgia State history. He finished first in three tournaments, had another two top 10 finishes, and finished outside the top 20 once in eleven events.
Grey had his rookie moments, such as an 80 in a tournament at Furman and a 79 in the first round of the conference tournament, but overall was by far the best golfer on the team. If he can improve his consistency just a touch, he will likely go down as one of the best golfers in GSU history.
The Panther's center fielder has appeared in more games than any other player while performing at an extremely high level. To this point he has batted .347 while ranking third on the team in RBIs and going a perfect 11 for 11 stealing bases, the second highest total on the team. He has been tremendous in the field also with the second best fielding percentage on the team.
Merrigan should be a staple of this team for the next three years as Coach Frady and the Panthers transition into the much more competitive Sun Belt schedule.
Peterson arrived to campus late in the summer due to an issue with a grade and admission requirements. But once that issue was resolved, he was an immediate starter at inside linebacker. He is a tackling machine and led the team with 65 tackles on the year.
The talented Peterson will start every game in his career as long as he is healthy.
Mellors-Blair was an instant sensation and was named CAA Rookie of the Week after his first week of college soccer. The Nottingham, England native ended the year leading the team with six assists and scoring three goals, good for second on the team with 12 points.
The accolades included CAA All-Rookie team, Third Team All-CAA, and No. 49 on topdrawersoccer.com's top 100 freshmen list. Mellors-Blair is one of the most talented players to ever suit up for GSU and could have his name next to a lot of records before its all said and done.
It is easy to be overshadowed when you have one of the top 50 women tennis players in division 1 on your team, but Timmerman had a tremendous freshman campaign. She was the only player outside of Georgia State's number one Abigail Tere-Apisah to have a winning record throughout the season. The Panthers had a very difficult schedule this season and she held her own. She will be crucial to the team moving forward as they lose a couple key contributors this year.
Taylor Anderson and Katie Worley
The two freshmen softball players have had tremendous seasons. Anderson has started all but two games at shortstop while batting .305, third highest average on the team. She also leads the team with 11 doubles and 3 triples on the year.
Worley, meanwhile, wasn't expected to be one of the main starting pitchers for the Panthers. However, a highly touted recruit did not qualify academically and senior pitcher McCall Langford left the team. Suddenly Worley was penciled in as one of the top two starters. She responded with a 15-9 record to this point while leading the team in strikeouts.
Both girls have performed at a high level and will look to continue the tradition that head coach Roger Kincaid has built over the past few seasons.
The GSU volleyball team had one of its toughest seasons in 2012, but the bright spot of the poor campaign was the stellar play of freshman middle blocker Eliza Zachary. She led the team with 91 blocks, good for third in the CAA. She was named to the CAA All-Rookie team and will be the centerpiece of a young team that is looking to bounce back.
Who to Watch
There are a few more freshmen that had solid seasons and look like they could have great careers in their time at Georgia State. Here are the "honorable mentions" for some of the best rookies in Georgia State athletics this year.
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