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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Pair of Bobcats earn All-Sun Belt honors

Texas+State+senior+infielder+Sara+Vanderford+%2826%29+talks+to+junior+pitcher+Jessica+Mullins+%284%29%2C+Friday%2C+April+22%2C+2023%2C+at+Bobcat+Softball+Stadium.%26%23160%3B

Texas State senior infielder Sara Vanderford (26) talks to junior pitcher Jessica Mullins (4), Friday, April 22, 2023, at Bobcat Softball Stadium. 

The 2023 Texas State softball roster features two key players receiving awards following the end of the season, as junior right-handed pitcher Jessica Mullins and senior infielder Sara Vanderford received All-Conference selections for their performances this season. 
Vanderford is named to the 2023 Sun Belt All-Conference second team, with Mullins receiving a first-team All-Conference selection for the third consecutive season. 
Texas State Head Coach Ricci Woodard reflects on the hard work displayed by both players and recognizes the standard they have created for themselves over the past few years.
“The last three years have kind of circulated around those two names, so it’s no surprise,” Woodard said. “They both compete their tail-ends off every day, and there’s never a surprise when those two names come up at the end of the season.”
Both Mullins and Vanderford helped lead the Bobcats to an overall record of 35-25-1 this season, with appearances in both the Sun Belt Conference tournament and 2023 NCAA Regionals.
Mullins expressed her gratitude for being awarded first team All-Conference, and said the standards she holds for herself leads her to becoming more accustomed to the recognition she’s received.
“Gaining that kind of recognition is really special because I’m not only representing myself, but I’m representing my team and I’m representing Texas State,” Mullins said. “I feel like Texas State needs that recognition too, and it just makes me proud to be a part of this university.”
Mullins completed the 2023 season with 22-12 record, holding a 1.88 ERA and a total of 176 strikeouts on the year. 
Vanderford finished with seven home runs and 39 RBI while starting in all 61 games this season.
Vanderford has proven herself as a leader both on and off the field and credits her teammates during her freshman year for showing what it means to lead and make her team better.
“I truly believe that’s why I am the way I am today because without them I wouldn’t have known anything,” Vanderford said. “They showed me around the ropes, and they took me under their wing and without them I would not be the Sara that I am today.”
Mullins said the leadership displayed from Vanderford highlights her ability to make others better along with putting in extra work every single chance she gets.
“Sara does a really good job of being a leader, I’m very proud of her from the way that she’s grown since I’ve been here,” Mullins said. “It’s just amazing to see her blossom as a leader, a person and a player.”
Vanderford expressed gratitude for her All-Conference selection, and said her true aspirations are centered around winning ballgames rather than for her own image or awards.
“I’m here because I want to win, not for personal recognition,” Vanderford said. “I couldn’t do it without the team because they push me every day and so now it’s just my job to push them.”
Vanderford feels honored with the All-Conference selection and credits her hard work throughout the season for being able to get recognized in a growing conference with an abundance of talent. 
“The Sun Belt is only getting better, so anytime that you can be selected for something like that is something to be thankful for,” Vanderford said. “But that’s not without the hard work that goes into it.”
Mullins describes the amount of work it takes to be an All-Conference player and states that the summer off-season is the most important time to put in the work because that’s what prepares you for next year.
“All of the hard work starts over the summer in practice, it’s always the things you do when no one is watching,” Mullins said.

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