PLAYERS OF THE WEEK – Nevada’s Vanessa Briones and Jordan McPherson have been named the Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. This is the first career honor for Briones, and the fourth honor for McPherson.
Briones, a senior outfielder from Ontario, Calif. (Don Antonio Lugo) continued her torrid hitting with a phenomenal week against Louisiana Tech. The outfielder batted .700 (7-for-10) as Nevada swept the Lady Techsters and ran its win streak to seven straight. Briones slammed two home runs, scored six runs and had five RBI in the series. She recorded a 1.300 slugging percentage for the week. Briones leads the WAC in hitting with a .486 average.
McPherson, a senior from Simi Valley, Calif. (Royal) made Senior Day at Nevada a special occasion as she combined on a no-hitter against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. McPherson pitched four innings of no-hit ball and fellow senior Richelle Villescas closed out the no-hitter in an 8-0 victory. In the series, McPherson went 2-0 with a 0.88 earned-run average. In two appearances, she struck out 12 and did not walk a batter. She gave up just five hits and only one earned run and opponents batted just .167 off of her.
Other hitter of the week nominees included: Andrea Ortego of Fresno State had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth against Hawai‘i ... Kristi Hanan of New Mexico State hit with four hits and two RBI ... Brittany McConnell of San Jose State set a WAC record with eight RBI in a game against New Mexico State ... Kelley Kaneshiro of Utah State hit .538 with seven hits for the Aggies in non-conference games against Idaho State and Northern Colorado.
Other pitcher of the week nominees included: Ryane Petersen of Fresno State went 1-0 as the Bulldogs swept Hawai‘i ... Kim Watson went 1-1 with one shutout and two complete games ... Lindsey Benson went 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA with three complete games for the Aggies.
FRESNO STATE’S WRIGHT NEARS ANOTHER MILESTONE – The NCAA’s all-time winningest softball coach Margie Wright will look for her 1,300th career victory on Wednesday as her No. 9/10 Fresno State Bulldogs host St. Mary’s in a non-conference doubleheader. Fresno State has won eight-straight games, including WAC series sweeps over San Jose State and then-ranked No. 24 Hawai’i. The winning streak has moved the Bulldogs up to a No. 9 ranking, up two from last week, in the USA Softball poll, the teams highest ever ranking by USA Softball. The NFCA poll has the `Dogs ranked No. 10 for the second-straight week.
IN THE POLLS – This is the third week this season that three teams in the WAC are ranked in the USA Softball poll top 25 poll. Fresno State, Hawai‘i and Nevada are all ranked this week. The last season that three WAC teams were ranked in the NFCA poll was March 2, 1998 when Fresno State (No. 2), Hawai‘i (No. 11) and Colorado State (No. 23) were all ranked. The NFCA poll began in 1995 and is the most established of the softball polls.
Fresno State is ranked No. 10 this week in both USA Today/NFCA top 25 poll and No. 9 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The Bulldogs are an impressive 45-8 overall and 11-3 in conference action. Nevada is first in the WAC with its 35-14 record and 13-2 WAC record. In the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25, Nevada is ranked No. 19. In the ESPN/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, Nevada is No. 22. The Rainbow Wahine dropped out of the NFCA poll but received 27 votes and No. 23 in the USA Softball poll this week. Hawai‘i is 33-17 this overall this season and 7-7 in conference action.
ON DECK – In the final week of the regular season, a WAC-regular season champion has yet to be determined. Nevada needs two wins to secure its first regular season crown. The Wolf Pack have won one WAC Tournament title in 2006. Nevada ends the regular season on the road against San Jose State in a three-game series. Second-place Fresno State will finish the regular season at home against New Mexico State. Third-place Hawai‘i will finish with Utah State.
ON THE TUBE – Fresno State’s doubleheader against New Mexico State in Fresno on May 2 will be telecast by CSTV. Tammy Blackburn and Jason Knapp will be the broadcasters. This is the first game telecast by CSTV this season. Looking ahead, KFVE will be broadcasting all of Hawai‘i’s games during next week’s WAC Tournament. All games for the WAC Tournament will be streamed by going to www.wacsports.com.
HAWAI‘I TO HOST 2008 TOURNAMENT – For the first time ever the WAC Softball Tournament will be held in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. This will be only the third tournament since 1999. All seven teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament. The tournament will be held at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium from May 7-10. Second-seeded Fresno State captured its second WAC Tournament last season at home in Fresno. The Bulldogs were outstanding in the tournament not dropping a single game.
LADY TECHSTERS MAKING PROGRESS – Louisiana Tech is having one of its strongest season since joining the WAC for the 2002 season. This season, Sarah Dawson’s Lady Techsters are 30-26 overall and 7-10 in conference aciton. Louisiana Tech is looking for its first .500 or better season since 1999.
MCCONNELL SETS SCHOOL AND WAC RECORDS – San Jose State junior Brittany McConnell established a new single-season home run record when she hit her 12th of the year at New Mexico State. She broke the previous record of 11, which was set by Kara Kanney in 2000. McConnell’s 45 RBI also sets a new standard for RBI in a season. The previous record was held by Victoria Ruelas who knocked in 42 in 1997. McConnell set a single-game RBI record for the WAC and San Jose State with her eight RBI at New Mexico State on April 26. She broke her own school record of six RBI which she first established in 2007 and equaled earlier this season at Utah State. In the WAC, the previous record was seven RBI which was held by three athletes.
GALINDO NAMED TO U.S. OLYMPIC SOFTBALL TEAM – San Jose State assistant coach Vicky Galindo, a members of the U.S. National Softball Team, was named to the squad that will travel to Beijing, China this summer. The United States softball team has won the past three gold medals.
WAC LEADERS – This week, Nevada’s Noelle Micka takes the top spot in the WAC in hitting with a .401 average. She is the only player in the WAC hitting over .400. Louisiana Tech’s Amberly Waits is second in the WAC in hitting with a .399 average. Waits is also tops in the WAC in hits (67). Fresno State’s Haley Perkins is first in runs scored (40). Three players are tied for the league lead in RBI (45) Kate Robinson of Hawai‘i, Brittany McConnell of San Jose State and Caitlin Stiglich of Fresno State. Once again, Hawai‘i’s Kate Robinson leads the league in home runs with 16. In the circle, yet another Fresno State pitcher is dominating. Freshman Morgan Melloh is first in wins (33), and strikeouts (340). Melloh is the sixth Bulldog pitcher and the first since Robin Mackin last season to surpass the 300-strikeout mark.
WONDERFUL WOLF PACK – Nevada is four victories away from setting the school record for victories. Nevada is undefeated at home this season (9-0) and is 19-4 all-time at Hixson Park, which opened last year. Currently the Wolf Pack are in first place in the WAC and are two wins away from capturing their first regular-season WAC title.
SIMPLY THE BEST – In the sixth set of NCAA statistics, several WAC teams and players stand out. Freshman sensation Morgan Melloh of Fresno State is second in the nation in wins (33) only behind Florida’s Stacey Nelson (35). Following in the footsteps of outstanding Bulldog pitchers like Jamie Southern and Amanda Scott, Melloh is also among the nation’s best in ERA. Melloh is 25th in ERA (1.13). Louisiana Tech’s Amberly Waits is second in the nation in triples with nine, while Fresno State’s Haley Perkins is fifth with seven. Nevada’s Katie Holverson is seventh in the nation with five saves. Hawai‘i’s Kate Robinson is 13th in homer runs (16) and home runs per game (0.32)
As a team, Fresno State is up to seventh in fielding percentage (.977) and eighth in win/loss percentage (.849). New Mexico State is eighth in double plays per game (0.45). Nevada is 13th in batting average (.318).
ROBINSON FINALIST FOR AWARD – The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced today the 25 finalists for the 2008 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Senior All-American Kate Robinson became the first Rainbow Wahine to ever be named a finalist for the national honor.
This award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Earlier this year, Robinson was selected to the 2008 Pre-Season Division I Watch List. From that list the ASA evaluates players on the watch list, as well as other nominees during a mid-season review to determine the 25 finalists. The Top 25 is comprised of players representing 18 colleges and ten different NCAA Division I Conferences. Among the list are eleven seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen.
Fresno State Bulldogs (45-8, 11-3 WAC)
Freshman pitching sensation Morgan Melloh earned her 33rd win on the year ... Melloh leads the WAC in ERA (1.13), strikeouts (340) and strikeouts per seven innings 8.93 ... Melloh’s 340 strikeouts is fourth in the WAC single-season records ... her 33rd wins is currently tied for third in single-season wins ... Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s sister, Maureen, holds the WAC record for wins in a season with 36 along with current Bulldog Robin Mackin ... Melloh continues to be second in the nation in wins with 33 behind Florida’s Stacey Nelson (35).
Hawai‘i Rainbow Wahine (33-17, 7-7 WAC)
Hawai‘i looks to get back on track after losing its sixth-straight conference game ... the Rainbow Wahine lost three-straight close games to No. 10/9 Fresno State in Fresno ... Hawai‘i closes out the regular season at home against Utah State ... Kate Robinson continues to lead the team both on offense and in pitching ... the first baseman/pitcher currently carries a .376 overall batting average (59-for-157) and leads UH in seven offensive categories including hits (59), runs (39), home runs (16), runs batted in (44), slugging percentage (.720), walks (15), and on-base percentage (.426).
Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (29-26, 7-10 WAC)
Louisiana Tech ended 2008 regular season Tuesday with a 3-0 win against UL-Monroe ... Tech secures its first winning season since 1999 ... the Lady Techsters now prepare for the 2008 WAC Tournament next week in Honolulu ... Amberly Waits continues her assault on the Tech record books, already setting single season records for triples (9) and total bases (115) ... she still has an opportunity to set single season marks in batting average, hits and RBI.
Nevada Wolf Pack (35-14, 13-2 WAC)
Seniors Jordan McPherson and Richelle Villescas combined for the second no-hitter in program history on Saturday in an 8-0 victory over Louisiana Tech ... Nevada’s current seven game winning streak is the longest of the season ... the Wolf Pack is batting .356 as a team in WAC games ... Nevada hit .500 as a team with eight home runs and 28 runs in three games against Louisiana Tech ... Nevada is 21-2 when a Pack player hits a home run ... freshman Danielle Patrick is riding a career-best 12-game hit streak.
New Mexico State Aggies (25-31, 7-8 WAC)
The New Mexico State softball team had a rough showing last week, winning only one of the four-game series ... the Aggies started the week off shaky as they were run-ruled to rival, UNM, 9-1 in five innings of play ... however, in the first game of the SJSU series, NMSU rebounded well with a four-run shutout over the Spartans ... the Aggies did falter in the final two games of the series, 14-8 and 4-2 on senior day ... Stephanie Herrera is fifth in the WAC in hits with 60 ... Ashley Maroda is fourth in the league in RBI with 40 ... Herrera is also third in the WAC in batting average, hitting .395.
San Jose State Spartans (25-30, 5-10 WAC)
In year two of head coach Peter Turner’s tenure, the Spartans are four wins ahead of last years regular season total of 21 ... the 25 wins is the third most for a San Jose State softball team since 1995 ... with her eight-RBI explosion last week against NMSU, Brittany McConnell is now tied for first in the WAC in RBI with Hawai‘i’s Kate Robinson and Fresno State Caitlin Stiglich ... McConnell is also tied for second in home runs with Fresno State’s Jenna Cervantez and New Mexico State’s Ashley Maroda.
Utah State Aggies (14-29, 2-12 WAC)
Utah State concludes its regular season at WAC foe No. 24 Hawaii on Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4 ... USU is led by junior designated player Kayla Dunn’s .379 average, while freshman shortstop Kelley Kaneshiro is hitting .377... junior pitcher Lindsey Benson leads the team with a 4.37 ERA and has recorded 131 strikeouts in 181.0 innings of work ... Kaneshiro set a new Utah State single-game record as she hit three home runs in the Aggies, 11-3 six inning run-rule win against Northern Colorado last Sunday... Kaneshiro now has 10 round-trippers on the season to tie for second on the USU single-season home run list and tie for eighth on the Utah State career list.