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This Week in WAC Softball - March 27
Courtesy: New Mexico State
WILLARD, RICKETTS NAMED WAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Brigham Young’s Delaney Willard and Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Ricketts have been named the Verizon Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for March 19-25. This is the second honor of the season for Willard and the fourth of the season and 11th overall for Ricketts.

Willard, a senior right fielder from Camarillo, Calif., hit .444 with a double, three home runs and seven RBI as the Cougars went 4-0 on the week, including a series sweep of New Mexico State. For the week, she posted a 1.556 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage. In the series finale against the Aggies, she became the first Cougar this season to hit two home runs in a game, the second of which was a three-run walk-off game-winner. She also had five RBI in the game, tying a season high. Willard  has hit safely in seven of the last eight games and has reached base all eight games. With four walks last week, she moved into 10th place all-time at BYU in career walks (67) and her 11 home runs this season ties her total from last year in exactly half as many games played.

Ricketts, a senior from San Jose, Calif., went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 11 strikeouts against San Jose State. She did not allow an earned run in 13.0 innings of work and held opponents to a .136 batting average. In the series finale, Ricketts fired the fifth no-hitter of her career. She had three walks and five strikeouts and did not allow a runner past second base. On the season, Ricketts is 16-2 with a 0.88 ERA.

Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: Michelle Moses of Fresno State hit .333 with a pair of homers and five RBI last week ... Hawai‘i’s Kelly Majam hit .375 with a double, a home run and two RBI ... Erin Kipp of Louisiana Tech hit .600 with two doubles, a triple and seven RBI ... Nevada’s Karley Hopkins hit .500 on the week ... Briana Tovio-Asato of New Mexico State hit .400 on the week ... Utah State’s Lindsey Marquez hit .400 with three RBI on the week.

Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: Tori Almond of Brigham Young went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts last week ... Louisiana Tech’s Michelle Jones went 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA last week ... Karlyn Jones of Nevada went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances last week ... Utah State’s Mandy Harmon went 1-1 with eight strikeouts last week.

NO. 16 HAWAI‘I AT NEW MEXICO STATE GAME TO BE TELEVISED ON ESPNU
No. 16 Hawai‘i plays a three-game series at New Mexico State this weekend. Friday’s game will be shown on ESPNU at 8 p.m. MT. The Rainbow Wahine are off to their best start in program history, while the Aggies are the defending WAC regular-season and tournament champions.

MAJAM BECOMES ALL-TIME HOME RUNS LEADER AT HAWAI‘I
On March 24 in the series finale against San Jose State, Hawai‘i’s Kelly Majam went 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a home run. It was her fifth homer of the season and the 45th of her career, which broke the Hawai‘i career record of 44 previously held by former UH All-American Kate Robinson in 2008. The 45 rounder trippers ranks sixth all-time in WAC history.

BYU BOASTS NATION’S SECOND-LONGEST HOME WINNING STREAK
Last week, Brigham Young defeated Idaho State at home in non-conference play, then swept its first-ever WAC series against New Mexico State to extend its home win streak to 25 straight games. NM State became the first defending WAC softball champion ever to be swept in its conference-opening series the year after winning the title. The Cougars’ streak is the second-longest home winning streak in the nation, dating back to April 23, 2010, when they fell 4-9 to San Diego State. Only Louisiana-Lafayette has a longer streak at 33 games.

FIVE NO-HITTERS THROWN IN THE WAC THIS SEASON

There have been five no-hitters thrown in the WAC so far this season and 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. State 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. The other two no-hitters were thrown by Hawai‘i pitchers. Kaia Parnaby fired her second career no-no on March 14, with a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Marist. Stephanie Ricketts no-hit San Jose State on March 24, with three walks and five strikeouts. No Spartan runner advanced past second base.

HAWAI‘I HANDS NO. 2 CAL ITS FIRST LOSS OF THE SEASON IN EXTRA INNINGS
Hawai‘i shortstop Jessica Iwata hit a two-run, walk off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Rainbow Wahine over No. 1/2 California, 3-1, on March 15. Stephanie Ricketts earned the complete-game win over the previously unbeaten Golden Bears. It was a pitcher’s duel with the score tied at 0-0 through the first nine innings of play. Ricketts stranded 17 California runners on base in the game. She threw 10.0 innings, giving up one unearned run while scattering seven hits. She tied her season-high with 12 strikeouts.
 
Cal broke the scoreless game in the top of the 10th inning. With the international tie-breaker rules in place, Jace Williams was at second base to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Elia Reid pushed Williams to third. After a walk, Henderson hit a slow roller to short that was mishandled for an error that allowed Reid to score from third on two outs.
 
In the bottom of the 10th, UH fought back. Kayla Wartner was placed at second base to start off the inning and Robinson then drove a single to left-centerfield. Wartner moved to third on the hit, but the throw home from the centerfielder sailed past the catcher and ricocheted around the backstop to allow Wartner to dive across home plate for the tying run. The ensuing batter, Iwata, then came through with the clutch two-run blast to left field to end the game and Cal’s 23-game win streak. It was Iwata’s fifth home run of the season and 38th of her career.
 
The last time UH defeated a No. 1 team was in 2007, when it held on to defeat No. 1 Tennessee 9-6 at the Super Regional in Knoxville, Tenn., in the second game of the series. Alabama, which UH defeated in the 2010 Super Regional, was ranked No. 4 at the time, but was seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament.

SAN JOSE STATE’S COX BREAKS SCHOOL HITTING STREAK RECORD
San Jose State freshman Michelle Cox broke the program’s hitting streak record when she hit in 19 consecutive games before the streak ended against Stanford on March 11. Cox broke the old record of 17 games set by Pat Martinez during the 1995 season.

HAWAI‘I SETS SCHOOL WIN STREAK RECORD
On March 10, Hawai‘i defeated Radford 4-0 to break its previous win-streak record of 18 set in 2010. 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 on March 9. She tied the record 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.

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.

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. A two-time WAC Player of the Year, she led the Rainbow Wahine last season with a .355 batting average, a .663 slugging percentage and a .447 on-base percentage.

Iwata is just the fourth Rainbow Wahine to ever be selected to the “Top 50 Watch List.” Last season, Melissa Gonzalez and Kelly Majam were chosen to the list, while Kate Robinson made the list in 2008.

The 2012 Watch List is comprised of 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores representing 31 universities and 13 conferences. The Top 25 finalists will be announced April 11, the Top 10 will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 will be announced May 23. The winner will be announced May 29.

RICKETTS SELECTED IN NPF DRAFT
Hawai’i softball pitcher Stephanie Ricketts was the 10th overall pick in the third round of the 2012 National Pro Fastpitch Senior Draft. Ricketts was selected by the defending league-champion Chicago Bandits. She is just the second Rainbow Wahine to ever be drafted by the NPF.
 
Stephanie is the second member of the Ricketts family to be drafted into the NPF. Her older sister Samantha was selected as the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NPF draft by the Akron Racers where she played for two seasons. The elder Ricketts is currently an assistant coach at Wichita State after spending the past six seasons as a player then as a coaching staff member.
 
Former UH All-American Kate Robinson is the only other UH player to ever be drafted into the NPF. She was selected in the second round, No. 11 overall by the Akron Racers. Robinson, the older sister of current Rainbow Wahine softballer Sarah Robinson, played for two seasons in Akron before heading overseas to continue her professional career in the Netherlands and in Italy.

NEW MEXICO STATE TO HOST 2012 WAC 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.

BRIGHAM YOUNG COUGARS  (19-8, 3-0 WAC)
The Cougars defeated Idaho State 5-2 last Tuesday, then swept their first-ever WAC series against New Mexico State (3-2, 9-1, 6-3) to extend their home win streak to 25 games, second-best in the nation ... Delaney Willard hit two home runs in the third game vs. NM State to become the first Cougar to hit two homers in a game this season ... Tori Almond has not allowed an earned run in her last 18.1 innings pitched ... The Cougars have won 10 of their last 11 games, with the lone loss coming vs. No. 5 Arizona State ... Jessica Dugas is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and went 6-for-10 in the NM State series ... As a team, BYU ranks 19th nationally in double plays per game (0.44), 32nd in scoring (5.59), 40th in winning percentage (.704) and 47th in batting average (.296) ... Willard ranks second in the nation in batting average (.500), fourth in slugging percentage (1.039) and RBI per game (1.52), sixth in on-base percentage (.585), eighth in home runs per game (0.41) and 11th in home runs (11) ... Caroline Umphlett ranks 32nd nationally with two saves ... BYU hosts UMKC for a doubleheader on Tuesday, then plays at Fresno State this Friday and Saturday.

FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS (21-13, 2-1 WAC)
The Bulldogs went 2-1 in their WAC season-opening series at Nevada last week, winning the first game 3-0, falling 3-4 in the second game and posting a 7-3 victory in the third game ... Michelle Moses clinched the series with a grand slam that gave Fresno State the lead for good. It was the fourth grand slam of her career, tying her for the second in school history ... Vonnie Martin registered the first four-hit game by a Bulldog this season in the second game Saturday when she was 4-for-4 ... Moses has 12 home runs this year to give her 53 for her career, good for third place all-time in WAC history ... As a team, Fresno State ranks ninth nationally in triples per game (.35), 21st in double plays per game (.44), 28th in fielding percentage (.972) and 45th in slugging percentage (.443) ... Moses ranks seventh in the nation in home runs (12) and shutouts (7), 11th in strikeouts (150), 20th in home runs per game (.35), 44th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.2) and 48th in wins (11) ... Stesha Brazil and Brenna Moss rank sixth in the nation with four triples each ... The Bulldogs host UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, then host BYU for a three-game WAC series this Friday and Saturday.

HAWAI‘I RAINBOW WAHINE (26-3, 2-1 WAC)
The Rainbow Wahine went 2-1 (4-1, 2-4, 8-0) against San Jose State last weekend ... Kelly Majam was 3-for-3 in the finale with a single, a double and a home run. It was her fifth homer of the season and 45th of her career, which broke the UH career record and ranks sixth all-time in WAC history ... Stephanie Ricketts went 2-0, did not allow an earned run in 13.0 innings and fired her fifth career no-hitter ... As a team, Hawai‘i ranks second in the nation in ERA (0.80), ninth in winning percentage (.897), 10th in homers per game (1.28), 14th in scoring (6.31), 18th in fielding percentage (.975) and 20th in slugging percentage (.491) ... Ricketts ranks fifth in the nation in wins (16), seventh in shutouts (7), 12th in hits allowed per seven innings (3.91), 13th in strikeouts (139), 15th in ERA (0.88) and 46th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.1) ... Kaia Parnaby ranks third nationally in ERA (0.68), fourth in walks allowed per seven innings (0.78) and 14th in shutouts (6) ... Majam is 33rd in the nation in walks (0.76) and 35th in runs (1.0) ... The Rainbow Wahine play a three-game series at New Mexico State this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game will air at 8 p.m. MT on ESPNU.

LOUISIANA TECH LADY TECHSTERS (15-17, 2-1 WAC)
The Lady Techsters went 2-1 (0-4, 10-1, 5-1) vs. Utah State last week to open WAC play ... In Saturday’s doubleheader, LA Tech recorded 10 extra base hits ... Erin Kipp hit .600 with three extra-base hits, seven RBI and a slugging percentage of 1.000. Kipp hit safely in all three games, including a career-high-tying three hits and a career-high six RBI in game two. The six RBI tied for the second-most in a single game in program history ... Kipp also pitched a complete game, picking up the win in the circle, allowing only one unearned run ... Michelle Jones has allowed just three home runs in 103 innings of work this season ... As a team, Louisiana Tech ranks 24th nationally in doubles per game (1.47) ... Meghan Knowles ranks 13th nationally in sacrifice flies (3) ... Janna Frandrup ranks 15th in the nation in walks (0.84) and 17th in on-base percentage (.545) ... Melanie Goff ranks 32nd nationally in saves (2), while Amanda Krueger is 45th in doubles per game (0.31) ... Tech boasts three of the top 10 hitters in the league in Goff (2nd, .412), Frandrup (6th, .388) and Kipp (8th, .386) ... Louisiana Tech plays at San Jose State this Friday and Saturday.

NEVADA WOLF PACK (9-22, 1-2 WAC)
The Wolf Pack went 1-2 (0-3, 4-3, 3-7) at home against Fresno State last weekend to open WAC play ... In Nevada’s win, Ashley Butera hit the game-winner, driving in two with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning ... Karley Hopkins hit .500 with a .667 on-base percentage over the three games ... Karlyn Jones was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances for Nevada the Wolf Pack ... Mallary Darby ranks 22nd in the nation in walks allowed per seven innings (1.18) ... Sara Parsons ranks 32nd nationally in doubles per game (0.32), while Jones is 32nd in saves (2) ... Hopkins leads the WAC in assists (85) and plate appearances per game (3.94), ranks second in plate appearances (122), third in at bats (106), fourth in hits (36) and fifth in hits per game (1.16) .. As a team, Nevada leads the WAC in at bats per game (27.16) and ranks second in triples per game (0.16), plate appearances per game (31.32) and assists (267) ... The Wolf Pack play a doubleheader at Weber State on Thursday, then play a three-game series at Utah State this Friday and Saturday.

NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES (18-16, 0-3 WAC)
The Aggies split a doubleheader at No. 14 Arizona (9-5, 3-6) last Wednesday, then were swept (2-3, 1-9, 3-6) at Brigham Young last weekend to open WAC play ... It marked the first time ever that the defending regular-season champion was swept in the opening weekend of WAC play the following year ... In the win at Arizona, the Aggies scored eight straight runs in the final three innings to give the Wildcats their first home loss of the season ... Against the Cougars, BYU scored the game-winning run in its final at-bat in all three games ... As a team, New Mexico State ranks 28th nationally in home runs per game (0.94), 35th in scoring (5.44), 38th in slugging percentage (.459) and 48th in batting average (.296) ... Alex Newman is seventh in the nation in saves (3) and 20th in walks allowed per seven innings (1.11) ... Amber Olive ranks 24th nationally in toughest to strikeout (27.5), while Tiare Jennings is 39th in RBI per game (1.04) ... Jennings ranks fifth all-time in the WAC in career homers (47) ... The Aggies host No. 16 Hawai‘i for a three-game series this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game will be televised at 8 p.m. MT on ESPNU.

SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS  (17-18, 1-2 WAC)
The Spartans went 1-2 (1-4, 4-2, 0-8) at No. 17 Hawai‘i last weekend to open WAC play ... Amanda Pridmore tossed a one-hitter in the loss on Friday night, then threw a complete-game, two-hitter in the win on Saturday ... In the victory, the Spartans trailed 2-0 in the top of the sixth when Breanna Lopez hammered a ball over the left field fence. It was Lopez’s third homer of the season and ninth of her career, which moved her into a tie for sixth place on the program’s career home run list ... Jessica Garcia ranks second nationally in sacrifice flies (4), while Pridmore is seventh in saves (3) and  Michelle Cox is 47th in stolen bases per game (0.5) ... The Spartans lead the WAC in putouts (690), sacrifice flies (9), stolen bases (33) and runners picked off (2) ... Cox leads the WAC in stolen bases (16), ranks third in triples (2) and fourth in hits (36) ... Markesha Collins ranks second in the WAC in stolen bases (10) and third in runs (25) and walks (19) ... Pridmore ranks third in the WAC in strikeouts (113), fourth in wins (9) and fifth in opponent batting average (.203) ... The Spartans play a doubleheader at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, then host Louisiana Tech for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday.

UTAH STATE AGGIES (9-19, 1-2 WAC)

The Aggies went 1-2 (4-0, 1-10, 1-5) at Louisiana Tech to open WAC play last weekend ... It was only the second time in program history that Utah State won its WAC opener and ended a nine-game losing skid ... Mandy Harmon threw the complete-game shutout with six strikeouts ... Kassandra Uchida hit .444 with a double and one RBI over the three games, while Lindsey Marquez hit .400 and drove in three runs ... Kelley Kaneshiro ranks 14th nationally in hit by pitch per game (0.38) and 29th in on-base percentage (.536) ... Shelbi Tyteca is tied for seventh in the nation with three saves ... As a team, Utah State leads the WAC in batters face per game (36.41), ranks second in saves (3) and third in hit by pitch (18) ... Christine Thomsen ranks sixth in the WAC in on-base percentage (.479) and batting average (.388), eighth in hits per game (1.11) and ninth in total bases (47) ... Kaneshiro is second in the WAC in hit by pitch (9), third in on-base percentage (.536) and ninth in batting average (.385) ... The Aggies play a single game at Utah on Wednesday before hosting Nevada for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday in their earliest home opener since 2009.
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