Senior soccer player Clair Lanter from Soddy-Daisy and baseball pitcher David Eskew received the 2013 Charles Paul Conn Athlete of the Year awards at Lee University. The school's top athletic honors, the Conn awards go to the female and male who "best exemplify the athletic, academic and spiritual leadership of Lee University student-athletes," according to the announcement release. Lanter won the similar-sounding A.O. Duer Award as the top junior female athlete in the entire NAIA last year, when she and her teammates won the Lady Flames' fourth soccer national championship in a row. She was a three-year captain and twice was a Model U.N. participant, and her grade point average as a political science major is 3.97. Citing her unbending faith and her "uncanny ability to reach everyone that she interacts with," soccer coach Matt Yelton said in a school release that she is "the most competitive individual" he has coached and he always will hold her "up to future teams as the example that I would like for our players to strive toward." Eskew had a 3.53 GPA as an accounting major and was a two-time NAIA Scholar Athlete who like Lanter participated in many community service projects. And he's been part of Flames baseball teams that have gone 250-62-1 with four trips to the NAIA World Series and another one possible this season. The injuries he has dealt with include being hit in the face with a line drive. "David's career has been one of overcoming one obstacle after another," coach Mark Brew said. "I pay him the ultimate compliment when I say he is the most resilient player we have ever had in our program. ... On the field he is a great competitor, and in the classroom he epitomizes what a student-athlete should be."
• The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's golf team opened play Thursday in the NCAA East Regional at Auburn, Ala., with a 309, putting the Mocs in 19th place in the 24-team field. Nationally second-ranked Alabama shot a 277 for a six-shot lead over No. 5 Arkansas and No. 20 Tulane. Freshman Emily McLennan led UTC with a 76, while Agathe Sauzon and Jordan Britt had 77s and Isabella Loza shot 79.
• The host and nationally third-ranked Lee University baseball team beat Avila 12-3 in the NAIA Opening Series at Cleveland, Tenn., Thursday night. Avila downed Grand View 7-0 in the afternoon, and second-seeded Madonna blanked LSU Shreveport 8-0. For Lee (47-10), Derrick Pitts was 3-for-6 and scored twice and Danny Canela homered, singled and drove in three runs while Cameron Brewster and Mark Silva had two RBIs apiece. Josh Silver, Karsten Strieby, Silva, Corey Davis and Brandon Rader had three hits apiece; Davis scored three runs.
• Defending NAIA champion Tennessee Wesleyan College won 12-4 over Taylor University to cap the first day of the Opening Series at Kingsport, Tenn. Wesleyan (44-16) was ranked eighth in the final regular-season poll. Taylor earlier beat Benedictine-Springfield 10-2 and Missouri Baptist defeated Point Park 13-6.
• Fifth-seeded Covenant College gave top-seeded Campbellsville a battle behind all-region pitcher Micah Mabe but lost 3-2 Thursday in the National Christian College Athletic Association Mid-East Region tournament in Nashville. The game ended on a wild pitch by reliever Alec Mitchell after Mabe (7-2) allowed 10 hits and one earned run in his six-plus innings. Campbellsville is 33-19. David Lockwood doubled in Will Cleland and scored on a passed ball in the first inning for Covenant (26-14), but Campbellsville (33-19) also scored two in the first. Cleland was 2-for-3. Covenant is scheduled to play at 2 p.m. EDT today against Tennessee Temple, which stayed alive in the tournament by edging Hiwassee 6-5 as Brett Bartley went 2-for-3 and matched Josh Thomas with an RBI double. Hunter Giles pitched a complete-game six-hitter for Temple (27-19), while Chris Large threw a six-hitter and Dalton Harrelson had a two-run triple for Hiwassee. Bryan Woodlief and B.J. Kennedy each was 1-for-2 with an RBI in defeat. Mabe was 7-1 with a 2.32 earned run average and 61 strikeouts with only 12 walks in the regular season. He was joined on the all-region team by Scots outfielder Scott Gillespie, who batted .369 with 34 RBIs and had six in one game, and Temple pitcher Dylan Massengill. Covenant's Cleland, David Lockwood and Alhanon Miller and Hiwassee's Large received honorable mention.