Softball catcher to enter FMU Athletic Hall of Fame
Francis Marion University athletic officials recently announced that former softball catcher Laurie Niego Mancari (’03) is the newest inductee into the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will take place during homecoming activities on Saturday, Feb. 23, in the Smith University Center gymnasium at approximately 3:15 p.m. between the women’s and men’s games of the FMU and Flagler College basketball doubleheader.
Niego lettered four years on the softball diamond between 2000 and 2003, earning All-Conference and All-Region honors three times and All-America accolades in 2002. She was also named to the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll each of her four years. She earned a B.B.A. degree in business economics in 2003.
She currently resides in Chicago, Ill, with her husband and two children Haven and Leo. She earned her law degree from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School in 2007 and is currently an associate with the Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz law firm, which specializes in medical malpractice and personal injury cases. She started with the firm as a legal assistant in 2003.
She holds membership in the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.
At Francis Marion, Niego appeared in 210 games and finished her career batting .364 with 26 home runs and a school-record 157 runs batted in. At the time of her graduation, she also held the program records for hits (233) and doubles (47). She scored 115 career runs and registered a .566 slugging percentage, and a .986 fielding percentage. Overall, she amassed 71 career multi-hit games.
She helped lead the Patriots to a combined 140-73 record over her four seasons, the fourth-highest win total in program history.
As a freshman, she hit .324 with 13 doubles, five home runs, and 37 RBIs, and garnered NFCA/Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex All-Academic Team recognition.
During her sophomore year, she batted .382 with 15 doubles, six homers, and 35 RBIs, while allowing only 28 stolen bases by opponents in 44 games behind the plate.
Niego earned team MVP honors as a junior after hitting .381 with 12 doubles, eight homers, and 40 RBIs. She recorded a .459 on-base percentage and committed only one error in 238 fielding chances, while helping the Patriots to a 35-20 record.
As a senior, FMU went 36-9, including a program-best 15-1 home mark, and appeared in two national Top-25 polls during the season. Niego hit .377 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs – ranking 25th nationally in RBIs per game. She allowed only 22 stolen bases in 38 contests behind the plate.
Niego joins 51 current members in the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame. Past inductees include Chiffonia “Precious” Adderson (women’s basketball), Cindy Alford Vestal (women’s softball), Jeannette Alston (women’s basketball, volleyball), Kristi Anderson (women’s softball), Mark Bedenbaugh (cross country, track and field), Gary Bennett (golf), Kirk Bevington (men’s soccer), Daryl Blume (men’s basketball), Jennifer Brabson Cleek (women’s basketball), Michael Colaiacovo (cross country, track and field), Maria Costas (women’s basketball, tennis, volleyball), Tom C. Davidson (coach and administrator), Daphne Donnelly (women’s basketball, softball), Matt Dura (golf), Carlton Farr (men’s basketball), LaRue Fields (women’s basketball, volleyball), Alvaro Figuerola (men’s soccer), Allen Floyd (men’s basketball), Jennifer Grande Parker (volleyball, women’s basketball), Gerald Griffin (baseball coach and athletic director), Dr. Rufus R. Hackney Jr. (administrator and golf coach), Jeremy Halpin (baseball), Sylvia Rhyne Hatchell (women’s basketball coach), Lewis Hill (men’s basketball coach), Mary Hirst (women’s tennis), Wayne Huggins (baseball), Mary Jackson (women’s basketball, volleyball), Erin Jones (baseball), Scotty Keefe (baseball), Anthony “Chico” Lombardo (baseball), Sam Lundkvist (men’s tennis), Annamaria Karai Meadows (women’s tennis), Pearl Moore (women’s basketball), Robert Moore (men’s basketball), Krissy Burt O’Kelley (women’s volleyball), Crystal Poskey Ashley (women’s volleyball), Mitch Powell (track and field, cross country), Tommy Randall (golf), Katie Roberts Chapman (women’s soccer), Josef Schroeder (men’s soccer), Kim Slawson Hawkins (women’s basketball player and coach), David Stafford (track and field, cross country), Garth Thomson (men’s tennis player and coach), Randy White (track and field, cross country), Dr. Thomas M. Whiteley (track and field/ cross country coach), Lee Whitwell (women’s tennis), Kerri Williams (women’s soccer), Bob Wilson (men’s basketball player and coach), Mike Wilson (baseball), Rendy Yates (women’s softball player and coach), and Tracey Tillman Young (women’s basketball).