The America East announced this evening that Sydney Harbaugh garnered the conference’s Player of the Year award for softball.

Harbaugh, a sophomore right fielder, became the second member of the Binghamton softball program to secure the accolade. Jessica Phillips shared the honor in 2011.

“Personally, [the award] means a lot,” Harbaugh said. “I honestly had no idea I was even in the running for it. I just didn’t think that it was a possibility. My teammates when they announced my name lit right up and clapped before they even said my name so apparently they had an idea and I didn’t. It symbolizes all the hard work that went in and makes me feel really good that it paid off.”

Harbaugh had a stellar year at the plate. She led the Bearcats with a .375 batting average and 39 runs scored, while finishing third in the league with 27 stolen bases. A dramatic increase in power aided the right fielder’s case. Last year Harbaugh did not homer while driving in nine runs. This year she finished with 32 RBIs, and cleared the fence four times.

“Last year I was just a slap hitter,” she said. “A lot of it was getting on base and stealing bases. This year I added a different component… it definitely has helped a lot.”

Seven other Bearcats were honored for their play this season. Senior second basemen Jessica Bump and sophomore first basemen Lisa Cadogan joined Harbaugh on the all-conference first team. Sophomore catcher Taylor Chaffee and senior pitcher Demi Laney earned second team honors.

Outfielders Gabby Bracchi and Bridget Hunt as well as third basemen Crysti Eichner each were selected to the America East all-rookie team, while senior outfielder Colleen Dougherty and Bump made the all-academic squad.

“It kind of shows all the hard work and time all the girls put in day in and day out,” BU head coach Michelle Burrell said. “We have a good mix of people receiving awards. We have freshmen and sophomores. That is definitely positive moving forward. For the players who didn’t necessarily get an award it is something to look forward to in the future.”