This Week in WAC Softball - March 14
Hawai‘i’s Leisha Li‘ili‘i and San Jose State’s Amanda Pridmore have been named the Verizon Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for March 5-11. This is the first-ever honor for both.
Li‘ili‘i, a freshman designated player from Kane‘ohe, O‘ahu (Castle HS), hit .556 (5-for-9) with a double and three home runs for the Rainbow Wahine at the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament last weekend. Li‘ili‘i recorded 15 total bases as she had an on-base percentage of .600 and a slugging percentage of 1.667. She drove in five runs and scored three and four of her five hits were extra base hits. Li‘ili‘i helped Hawai‘i remain unbeaten on the season and to a program-record 19 straight wins.
Pridmore, a junior from Modesto, Calif. (Modesto HS), posted a 0.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts and three saves in four appearances last week. She became San Jose State’s career saves leader, tying the record last Friday against UC Santa Barbara, then breaking it against James Madison and adding to the record with a save against Cal Poly. Pridmore now has 10 saves in her three-year career, including three this season, which ranks fourth-best in the SJSU single-season record books.
Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: Michelle Moses of Fresno State hit .389 with a double, three home runs and 10 RBI ... Nevada’s Karley Hopkins hit .433 with four doubles and six RBI ... Tehani Kaaihue of New Mexico State hit .438 with a double, a home run and five RBI on the week … San Jose State’s Michelle Cox hit .364 with a double and five stolen bases on the week and broke the SJSU all-time hitting streak record at 19 ... Christine Thomsen of Utah State hit .583 with two doubles on the week.
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: Fresno State’s Mackenzie Oakes went 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA and 15 strikeouts last week ... Kaia Parnaby of Hawai‘i went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts on the week ... Utah State’s Shelbi Tyteca went 0-2 with 14 strikeouts last week.
SAN JOSE STATE’S COX BREAKS SCHOOL HITTING STREAK RECORD
San Jose State freshman Michelle Cox broke the program’s hitting streak record last week when she hit in 19 consecutive games before the streak ended against Stanford. Cox broke the old record of 17 games set by Pat Martinez during the 1995 season. Cox tied the record against James Madison and broke it against Cal Poly.
HAWAI‘I SETS SCHOOL WIN STREAK RECORD
No. 19 Hawai‘i broke its previous win-streak record of 18 set in 2010 on March 10 with a 4-0 win over Radford. The Rainbow Wahine extended the streak to 21 games before losing to No. 6 Texas on March 13.
PRIDMORE BECOMES SJSU’S CAREER SAVES LEADER
San Jose State junior Amanda Pridmore tied and then broke the San Jose State career saves record with her three saves last weekend. She tied the record on Friday against UC Santa Barbara, then broke it against James Madison and added to her record with a save against Cal Poly. Pridmore now has 10 saves in her three-year career. The previous record of eight was held by Carol Forbes. In addition, Pridmore’s three season saves this season is tied for fourth-best in the San Jose State single-season record books.
THREE NO-HITTERS THROWN IN THE WAC THIS SEASON
There have been three no-hitters thrown in the WAC so far this season and all three have come from the Fresno State pitching staff. The first was by senior pitcher Mackenzie Oakes on Feb. 19, when she threw her third career no-hitter in an 8-0, six-inning victory over Cal State Fullerton. The next two no-hitters, on Feb. 23 against Iowa State and March 3 vs. St. Joseph’s, were by senior Michelle Moses. They were Moses’ second and third no-hitters of her career. In the 3-0 win over Iowa State, Moses struck out 17 batters and that was one off of the school record that she set herself in 2010.
RICKETTS NAMED LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD CANDIDATE
Hawai‘i pitcher Stephanie Ricketts is one of the 30 student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The two-time reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year was named an Easton All-American last season and is Hawai‘i’s all-time strikeout leader. A three-time All-West Region honoree, she has been named an NFCA Scholar-Athlete and Academic all-WAC three times.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot.
NEW MEXICO STATE TO HOST 2012 TOURNAMENT
New Mexico State will host the 2012 WAC Softball Tournament May 9-12 at the NM State Softball Complex. The top six teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament. It is the second time the Aggies have hosted the event, as they did so in 2010, as well.
Top-seeded New Mexico State shut out No. 3-seed Fresno State 5-0 to claim its first-ever WAC Tournament title last season in Fresno.
FRESNO STATE PICKED TO WIN 2012 WAC TITLE
The WAC softball coaches selected Fresno State to win the 2012 WAC regular-season crown. It was the 14th time in the last 17 years that the Bulldogs were the preseason favorite to win the title.
Fresno State had 44 points and three first-place votes, just ahead of Hawai‘i with two first-place votes and 42 points. New Mexico State was third with 37 points and two first-place votes. Brigham Young received the other first-place vote and came in fourth place with 35 points. Nevada, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Utah State rounded out the poll.
PRESEASON ALL-WAC/RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
The preseason all-WAC team is composed of the returning all-conference players from last season. Hawai’i placed the most players on the team with four, while Fresno State and New Mexico State had three apiece.
The WAC features nine players who were first team all-conference performers last year. Three come from New Mexico State - Teresa Conrad, Tiare Jennings and reigning WAC Freshman of the Year Valerie Swedberg. Brigham Young returns Carly Duckworth and Jessica Dugas, both of whom were named to the all-Mountain West team last season. Fresno State returns two players (Michelle Moses and Andrea Ortega), while Hawai‘i returns reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Ricketts and reigning WAC Player of the Year Jessica Iwata.
Second team returnees include: Alex Aguirre, Hawai‘i; Janna Frandrup, Louisiana Tech; Erin Jones, Nevada; Allison Lenzora, Utah State; Kelly Majam, Hawai‘i; Brooke Ortiz, Fresno State; and Kassy Uchida, Utah State.
UH’S IWATA NAMED TO PRESEASON PLAYER OF YEAR WATCH LIST
Hawai’i shortstop Jessica Iwata was one of 50 student-athletes selected to the watch list for the 11th annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
Iwata, a two-time WAC Player of the Year, led the Rainbow Wahine last season with a .355 batting average, a .663 slugging percentage and a .447 on-base percentage. Iwata also led UH in runs scored (43), hits (60), home runs (15) and RBI (44), and finished the season on a nine-game hitting streak. She accumulated more multiple-hit games (16) and multiple-RBI games (13) than any other Rainbow Wahine in 2011. Iwata was also voted to the NFCA All-West Region second team for the second straight year and was named a second team Easton All-American last year as a sophomore.
Iwata is just the fourth Rainbow Wahine to ever be selected to the “Top 50 Watch List.” Last season both Melissa Gonzalez and Kelly Majam were chosen to the list. Before that, the only player to ever represent Hawai’i was Kate Robinson in her senior season, 2008.
The award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by collegiate softball players across the country. The 2012 Watch List is comprised of 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores representing 31 universities and 13 conferences.
The Top 25 finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 11. The Top 10 finalists will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 finalists will be announced May 23. On May 29, prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed.