ATLANTA – Carmen Paez, who starred as an All-American for the FGCU softball program from 2007-08, has been selected as a member of the fifth-annual ASUN Conference Hall of Fame class.
Paez, who will be officially inducted during an Oct. 7 ceremony on FGCU's campus, becomes the first Eagle softball product and only the third FGCU student-athlete overall to join the conference's hall of fame – joining current Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who was a member of the inaugural class in 2015, and Team USA beach volleyball Olympian Brooke Youngquist Sweat, who was inducted last year. She will enter with a class that also includes Lipscomb's Ann Mullins (volleyball, 2005-07) and College of Charleston's John Kresse (men's basketball head coach, 1991-98).
"This award is not just mine to accept, but it's for the people supporting me through the process of becoming a softball player," Paez said. "I would absolutely be nowhere without the help of my parents and sister. They are the ones who kept me going and kept me grounded."
In her two years at FGCU, Paez became one of the school's most decorated student-athletes at the Division I and Division II levels. She is FGCU's career record holder for batting average (.430), slugging percentage (.934) and OPS (1.521), while she racked up a plethora of accolades during her Eagle tenure, including the 2007 D-II National Player of the Year, 2007 South Region Player of the Year, 2008 ASUN Player of the Year, 2008 NFCA National Player of the Year Semifinalist, 2008 Southeast All-Region First Team and 2008 Academic All-District Second Team.
"Over her two seasons in Fort Myers, Carmen was arguably the best power hitter in the country and, quite possibly, in the history of the ASUN," FGCU head coach David Deiros said. "Most importantly, her personal journey to FGCU and beyond is a remarkable story of resilience, perseverance and opportunity. She was raised by her parents to be the fiercest competitor on the field and the best teammate in the clubhouse - I can honestly tell you that she delivered every day on both counts. She is most deserving of this honor for the student-athlete that she was and the woman she has become."
In her initial season in 2007, Paez set D-II records with 28 home runs and 80 RBIs en route to being named the South Region and D-II National Player of the Year as the Eagles went 62-8. In her one year at the D-I level and in the ASUN, Paez was named the 2008 ASUN Player of the Year after hitting 22 home runs and leading FGCU to a share of the league's regular season title. Despite only spending two seasons in Fort Myers, Paez sits second with 50 home runs, third with 126 walks, fourth with 148 RBIs and ninth with 134 runs.
A three-time ASUN Player of the Week in her senior season, she led the nation with an on-base percentage of .638 as she racked up a league record 84 walks - seventh-most in NCAA history. Her .928 slugging percentage that season ranked second in the NCAA as she also earned recognition as the FGCU Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She was even featured in the March 31, 2008 issue of Sports Illustrated as part of the "Faces in the Crowd" section, and she started every game in her FGCU career as the Eagles posted a 110-24 (.821) record. Paez graduated from FGCU with a criminal justice degree and played briefly in the National Pro Fastpitch league for the New England Riptide.
She recently moved back to Southwest Florida and now resides with her family in Charlotte County.
"Carmen is a more than well-earned fit for the ASUN Hall of Fame. Certainly one of the finest to ever don the Green and Blue, it is heartwarming to not only see her rightfully join Chris and Brooke, but in this honor being bestowed upon her back home on our campus," said FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh, who also serves as the Chair of the ASUN Hall of Fame Committee, comprised of one member from each of the nine institutions which makes the selections.
The hall of fame's fifth annual induction ceremony will take place on Monday, Oct. 7 in FGCU's Cohen Center Ballroom. Information about prior hall of fame inductees and the ASUN can be found at www.asunhalloffame.org. Additional bios, videos, photo galleries and news for the class of 2019 will also be launched on the day of the ceremony.
Inductees into the ASUN Hall of Fame can be selected in one of four categories: student-athlete, coaches, and administrators and as special inductees. The Hall of Fame Committee annually inducts up to five members in each class, with no more than one honoree representing an institution or no more than one honoree representing the collective group of former institutions each year without unanimous committee approval.