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Accomplished quartet named to 2019 SLU Hall of Fame class

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | Views: 565

Accomplished quartet named to 2019 SLU Hall of Fame class
HAMMOND, La. – Four former Southeastern Louisiana student-athletes who hold significant school records make up the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019, which was announced on Wednesday.

This year’s class includes a pair of former football standouts in quarterback Bryan Bennett, the program’s career and single-season leader in rushing touchdowns, as well as wide receiver Simmie Yarborough, who holds the school’s career marks for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Joining the gridiron duo is pitcher Stefan Lopez, who holds the Lion baseball program and Southland Conference’s single-season and career record for saves. Rounding out the class is softball catcher Karin Smith Gadberry, who holds the SLU record for single-season and career home runs.

The group will be inducted on the afternoon of Sept. 21 in a private ceremony at the Hall of Honor in the University Center. That night, the quartet will be recognized at halftime of Southeastern’s 7 p.m. Southland Conference football opener versus Lamar at Strawberry Stadium.

The four newest members will bring the SLU Athletics Hall of Fame membership total to 147. Bennett and Yarborough’s inductions will mark the fourth straight season a former member of the Lion football program has been inducted and will bring the total of former Southeastern football players in the Hall of Fame to 64.

Lopez is the 20th former baseball student-athlete to be selected to the SLU Athletics Hall of Fame. Smith Gadberry runs the total of softball Hall of Famers to five, as she joins a pair of former teammates in Rachel Ray Fitzgerald (2015) and Sarah Gascon (2010), as well as Voncia Bookman (2005) and Tara Maus (2003).

Bennett quarterbacked the Lions to the first two Southland Conference championships and NCAA Division I FCS playoff appearances in program history in 2013 and 2014 after transferring from Oregon. As a junior, Bennett threw for 3,165 yards and 21 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,046 yards and a single-season school record 16 scores.

Bennett helped Southeastern to an 11-3 record and a 7-0 finish in league play, earning Southland Conference Player of the Year, as well as Louisiana Newcomer and Offensive Player of the Year accolades. After leading SLU to a No. 4 national seed, Bennett was a first team All-America selection by the College Sports Journal and finished eighth in the Walter Payton Award voting.

In the second round of the 2013 FCS playoffs, the Granada Hills, California native was a perfect 6-for-6 on a game-winning six-play, 85-yard scoring drive that gave SLU a 30-29 comeback win over Sam Houston State. Bennett was selected the Southland Offensive Player of the Year as a senior after leading the Lions to a 9-4 record and back-to-back conference championships and playoff appearances.

In his two years in Hammond, he rushed for a school-record 31 touchdowns, while passing for 39 scores and 5,522 yards. Bennett was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts following his collegiate career and is currently a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

Yarborough was a four-time All-Southland Conference and three-time All-Louisiana selection during his SLU career, which spanned from 2008-11. The Brookhaven, Mississippi native sits atop the program’s all-time leaderboard with 229 receptions, 2,780 receiving yards and 30 receiving touchdowns. At the conclusion of his time in Hammond, Yarborough held the Southland record for receptions – a mark he held until the 2018 season.

After earning conference and state Freshman of the Year recognition in 2008, Yarborough was the team’s leading receiver in each of his final three seasons. He hauled in 57 catches for 803 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, following that with a 60-catch season that yielded 709 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.

He was named first team All-Southland Conference as a senior, grabbing a career-high 61 passes for 778 yards and three touchdowns. Yarborough is only player in school history with multiple seasons ranked in the program’s top five in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Lopez established himself as the most prolific reliever in the history of the Southland Conference from 2010-12 under former head baseball coach and current Director of Athletics Jay Artigues. The New Iberia, Louisiana native and two-time All-Southland selection set the program and conference career records with 30 saves in his three years on the diamond for the Lions.

Lopez’s Hall of Fame status was cemented in his final season at SLU, when he was named 2012 National Stopper of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, was a consensus All-American and earned Southland Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year honors. In his junior campaign, Lopez received those numerous accolades after recording a school and conference record 20 saves to go with a 2-1 record and an 0.61 earned run average.

Following his success with the Lions, Lopez was drafted in the 16th round by the New York Yankees in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Smith Gadberry was a two-time All-Southland Conference and three-time All-Louisiana catcher for the Lady Lions during her playing career, which spanned from 2002-05. In her four years with the SLU softball program, Smith Gadberry hit a career record 37 home runs – a standard that still stands.

After winning a starting role and hitting six home runs as a sophomore, Smith Gadberry broke out in her junior season. The Puyallup, Washington native was named first team All-Southland Conference after hitting a single-season record 15 home runs to go with a program-best .757 slugging percentage, as well as a .368 batting average and 46 runs batted in.

Smith Gadberry followed with 14 home runs in her senior campaign, Her single-season home run totals in her final two seasons still rank as the two best in program history and she is the only player in program history with multiple seasons of double-digit home runs.

Following her playing career, Smith Gadberry went into coaching, first as an assistant on former SLU head coach Pete Langlois’ staff from 2006-10. She is currently the head coach of the brand new Park University Gilbert softball program in Gilbert, Arizona.

The Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame inductees are elected each April by an eight-member selection committee. Nominations are accepted year-round and can be submitted to Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information Kemmler Chapple by mail (SLU 10309, Hammond, LA 70402) or by e-mail (kemmler.chapple@selu.edu).
 
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