Titans student-athletes recognized with 2020-21 awards

June 23, 2021

Multiple Titans student-athletes were recognized as University of Detroit Mercy’s Department of Athletics recently announced its 2020-21 Athletic & Academic award winners.

Men's lacrosse defenseman Alex Akins and women's softball pitcher Liz Murphy took home the President's Award for the 2020-21 academic year.

The President's Award goes to a male and female graduating senior who have shown academic and athletic excellence. These individuals are leaders on and off the field and represent the true essence of being a Titan student-athlete.

"I would like to congratulate all the award winners, nominees and all the student-athletes for their dedication and service, both to athletics and to academics," said Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels, Jr. "This has been a challenging year dealing with the pandemic, but all our student-athletes have done a tremendous job with everything that has gone on. When you see the resumes and character of all these student-athletes you understand completely what the University stands for and what our mission here is at Detroit Mercy."

Akins was one of the main leaders on the Titan team in his fifth year, earning captain status for a third time. He finished his decorated career by ranking in the top 10 of several Titan career statistics: Fifth in games started (54), sixth in caused turnovers (52) and tied for seventh in games played (59). Akins was selected All-MAAC four times, including two first-team honors, and was also a two-time MAAC All-Tournament Team member.

Akins was a finalist for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award and was named a Senior CLASS Second Team All-American. Excelling in the classroom, Akins also earned USILA Scholar All-American honors in 2020, was a five-time member of the Detroit Mercy Athletic Director's Honor Roll and the MAAC Academic Honor Roll and was named to the MAAC All-Academic Team three times.

Murphy helped elevate Detroit Mercy’s softball team to new heights, leading the Titans to the 2019 Horizon League Championship. Murphy’s back-to-back shutouts against first-place UIC in the semifinals and championship game earned her First Team All-Horizon League and the HL's Most Outstanding Player honors.

Murphy appeared in 123 games with 81 starts during her standout career, posting 32 wins, a 3.57 ERA, 42 complete games, nine saves and one no-hitter. She is second in school history with 344 strikeouts, sixth in wins and complete games, fourth in innings pitched (527.2) and first in saves. She is also a two-time member of the Horizon League All-Academic Team, a five-time member of the Detroit Mercy Athletic Director's Honor Roll and a four-time member of the Horizon League Fall & Spring Academic Honor Roll. 

The Titan Club Award, given to a male and female upper-class student-athlete on the merits of athletic performance and academic excellence, was received by men's basketball junior Antoine Davis and women's track and field and cross country senior Rebecca Measel. 

Davis - who holds a 3.3 GPA in Communications - helped guide the Titans to their first winning season since 2015-16 as he led the Horizon League and ranked third in the country in scoring at 24.0 points per game. It was the third-straight season he finished in the top four nationally in scoring and he became just the second student-athlete in HL history to lead the conference three times. Davis was the league leader and ranked second in the nation in 3-point field goals per game (3.77) and minutes per game (38:34), and earned multiple honors: Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, Lou Henson Award All-American and finalist, First Team All-Horizon League and NABC First Team All-District 12.

Measel, a Nursing student-athlete with a 3.64 GPA, has been a main contributor in both cross country and track and field. She started out her career competing in just track and field, but became one of the team's main cross country harriers during the last two seasons, finishing 24th at the Horizon League Championship this past year in 23:39. In track and field, she made her debut in the steeplechase as a senior and claimed third place at the outdoor HL meet, while scoring on the seventh-place 4x400-meter relay. Measel was also part of the scoring distance medley relay during the indoor season in 2020 and 2021. 

Senior softball student-athlete Alyssa Lang and men's golf senior Scott Sparks each earned the Reverend Norbert Huetter Award, given to a male and female student-athlete who sets an example for others by their display of attitude, dedication and leadership. Lang is a four-year letter winner and three-year starter who was part of the 2019 Horizon League Championship team and one of the main leaders of the squad through the COVID-19 shortened season of 2021. Sparks, a team captain in each of the past two seasons, was the Horizon League Freshman of the Year and also earned Second Team All-League during his career. He ended his Titan career tied for 10th all-time in school history with a 75.72 average, while his 110 rounds played is tied for the most in school history. 

The Dad Butler Award, awarded to a male and female student–athlete who have shown determination in the rehabilitation of an athletic injury, went to a pair of lacrosse players in senior Ollie Nigh and junior Jess Turner. Both players were able to not only overcome injuries, but make an impact on the team.

Two graduate seniors in Akins and women's track and field's Kyri Jackson were honored with the Larry Bleach Award, given to a male and female student-athlete who sets the strength and conditioning standards for other student-athletes to follow. Both upperclassmen were leaders on and off the field and always showed dedication in becoming the best student-athlete they could be, which ultimately led to a number of decorated honors in their career. 

Davis, along with women's track and field and cross country runner Allison Sherman, were honored with the Top Performance of the Year. Sherman earned All-Horizon League Second Team honors in cross country after finishing 13th at the Horizon League Championship with a 6k personal best of 23:13. Meanwhile, Davis broke a Horizon League Championship scoring record with his 46 points against Robert Morris in the first round, hitting a conference tournament record 10 3-pointers. It was also a Titan tournament record and just three points shy of the Detroit Mercy school record for points in a game.

This year's Spirit Award, awarded to a person who is the truest of all fans and dedicated at home and on the road, went to Assistant Director of Operations Tim Fair. One of the many dedicated workers in the athletic department, Fair is always up to the challenge of making sure the student-athletes have the best experience at all of our athletic facilities, going above and beyond his effort and always putting in the extra hours.

The Horizon League Raise Your Sights Award winners went to women's golf and men's golf as the two Titan teams had the top GPA within the Athletic Department during the 2020-21 school year. Women's golf sported a GPA of 3.84, while the Titan men's golf squad led all men's athletic programs with a 3.65 GPA.

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