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06/06/2018

Softball Player Janiva Willis Honored With Big South Hall of Fame Induction

Quick Facts

 Willis was honored posthumously as her mother Kathy Silva accepted the induction in her honor.
 Willis was inducted along with High Point's Taylor Milne (track & field), Campbell's Juha Miettinen (men's soccer) and UNC Asheville's Mike Gore (sports information director).

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Janiva Willis
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA - The Big South Conference inducted Winthrop University alumna Janiva Willis ’05 into its Hall of Fame during the league's May 31 Spring Meetings and Hall of Fame Banquet in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Willis was honored posthumously as her mother Kathy Silva accepted the induction in her honor. Willis was inducted along with High Point's Taylor Milne (track & field), Campbell's Juha Miettinen (men's soccer) and UNC Asheville's Mike Gore (sports information director).

Willis became the 10th Winthrop student-athlete, and the second member of the softball program, inducted into the Big South Hall of Fame. The four-time All-Big South First Team selection is already a member of Winthrop's Hall of Fame and had the softball program's hitting facility named after her in March.

The Big South Hall of Fame, created in 2003 as part of the league's 20th anniversary celebration, now totals 69 former Big South Conference student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors with the addition of this year's class.

Willis played softball for Winthrop from 2002-05 and was a four-time First-Team All-Big South selection as an outfielder, the ninth player at the time to achieve this feat in league history. She was the second student-athlete in Winthrop history to be named All-Conference four times, and was voted to the Big South Softball 2000-09 All-Decade Team.

A two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region Second-Team honoree in 2004 and 2005, Willis played 234 career games and batted .345 with 30 home runs, 103 runs batted in and a .574 slugging percentage. Willis remains Winthrop's all-time leader in doubles, total bases (408) and walks (90), and her program career rankings also include 3rd in hits, 3rd in triples, 2nd in home runs, 2nd in runs, 3rd in games played, 4th in at-bats, 5th in batting average, 6th in on-base percentage, and 5th in stolen bases.

In 2004, she led the Big South in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases and walks, and helped the 2005 squad win the Big South regular-season championship. Following her graduation from Winthrop, she was drafted by the Harlem Diamonds in June 2005, was a member of the Canadian National Team in 2005 and 2007, played in the 2004 World Games for Canada and was an alternate for the 2004 Canadian Olympic Team.

Willis' performance off the field was just as impressive. A three-time CoSIDA-Academic All-District and Big South Softball All-Academic Team pick in 2003, 2004 and 2005, she was voted a CoSIDA Third-Team Academic All-American in 2004, was an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar recipient and the Big South Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2005.

Willis was the state of South Carolina's NCAA Woman of the Year in 2005 and was named a finalist for the NCAA's Woman of the Year national award -- still the Big South Conference's only finalist to date. Inducted into Winthrop's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, Willis began a non-profit youth mentoring program in Charlotte, North Carolina, called I Dream in Color. She was tragically killed in April 2016 while on a cross-country fundraising bicycle trip to raise $1 million.

For more information, contact Brittany Lane, Winthrop assistant athletic director for marketing and communications, at laneb@winthrop.edu.

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