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This Week in WAC Softball - Feb. 9
Courtesy: WAC

New Mexico State will host the WAC Softball Tournament for the first time ever in 2010. The top six teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament, which will be held at the NM State Softball Complex from May 12-15. It is the first time the Aggies have hosted the event.

Top-seeded Fresno State defeated No. 2-seed Nevada 3-2 in eight innings to claim its third WAC Tournament title last season in Fresno and earn the WAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.


The WAC softball coaches selected Fresno State to win the 2010 WAC regular-season crown. This is the 13th time in the last 15 years that the Bulldogs have been the preseason favorite to win the title.

Fresno State took the top spot in the preseason poll with 48 points and six first-place votes. Nevada came in second, picking up one first-place vote and 41 points, followed by Hawai’i in third place with 34 points. New Mexico State edged Louisiana Tech for fourth place with 29 points and the remaining first-place vote. San Jose State was picked to finish sixth with 19 points, followed by Boise State in seventh with 18 points. Utah rounded out the poll in eighth place with seven points.


Fresno State junior hurler Morgan Melloh was selected in a vote of the league’s eight coaches as the preseason Pitcher of the Year, while Louisiana Tech senior shortstop Amberly Waits earned preseason Player of the Year honors.

Nevada and New Mexico State placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with three each, while Fresno State, Hawai’i and Louisiana Tech had two apiece. Joining Melloh and Waits on the preseason team are Nevada’s Sam Bias, Katie Holverson and Noelle Micka, New Mexico State’s Tiare Jennings, Hoku Nohara and Angie Ortega, Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Ricketts and Amanda Tauali’i, Haley Gilleland of Fresno State, Louisiana Tech’s Kylie Bassett and Kathy Cox of Boise State.

All but one member of the preseason all-WAC team was named to the 2009 all-WAC team. Nine members were first team all-WAC honorees a year ago (Bassett, Bias, Holverson, Melloh, Micka, Nohara, Ortega, Tauali’i and Waits), while three 2009 second-team honorees are on the team (Gilleland, Jennings and Ricketts).

Three WAC softball players – Morgan Melloh of Fresno State, Amberly Waits of Louisiana Tech and Katie Holverson of Nevada – have been named to the watch list for the ninth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

Melloh, who appears on the list for the second-straight year, was the 2008 WAC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year and a second team All-American. The 2009 WAC Tournament MVP, Melloh became the fourth pitcher in NCAA history to record back-to-back 400 strikeout seasons in her freshman and sophomore campaigns.

Waits earned numerous accolades following her junior campaign after setting program records for single season batting average (.488), hits (81), home runs (17), RBI (62), total bases (155), on-base percentage (.538) and slugging percentage (.934). In addition to being LA Tech’s first-ever WAC Player of the Year, Waits was named the state Hitter of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, first team all-WAC, first team all-state and to the All-West Region team.

Holverson, the 2009 WAC Pitcher of the Year, is 61-31 with a 2.23 ERA in her career at Nevada. Last year, she went 28-11 with a 1.70 earned-run average in leading the Wolf Pack to its second-straight WAC title and NCAA Tournament appearance.

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 list is comprised of 50 players representing 35 schools and 14 different conferences. It includes 27 seniors, 17 juniors and six sophomores. The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 7.

The top returning stat leaders in the WAC from last year include:

Category Name, School Statistic/’09 Rank
Batting Average Amberly Waits, LTU .488/1st
Slugging Pct. Amberly Waits, LTU .934/1st
On Base Pct. Amberly Waits, LTU .538/1st
Runs Tiare Jennings, NMSU 55/1st
Hits Amberly Waits, LTU 81/1st
RBI Amberly Waits, LTU 62/1st
Doubles Amberly Waits, LTU 17/1st
Triples Sarah Taylor, SJSU 7/2nd
Home Runs Tiare Jennings, NMSU 17/T-1st
  Amberly Waits, LTU 17/T-1st
Stolen Bases Kylie Randall, NMSU 22/1st
ERA Katie Holverson, NEV 1.70/1st
Wins Morgan Melloh, FS 30/1st
Saves Amanda Pridmore, SJSU 3/T-1st
Strikeouts Morgan Melloh, FS 450/1st

The WAC will feature nine players who were 2009 first team all-WAC performers. Three of the returners come from Nevada - junior catcher Noelle Micka, senior third baseman Sam Bias and senior pitcher Katie Holverson, the reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year. Louisiana Tech (Kylie Bassett and Amberly Waits) and New Mexico State (Hoku Nohara and Angie Ortega) return two players each. Fresno State returns Morgan Melloh, while Hawai’i returns Amanda Tauali’i.

Second team returnees include: Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu, Hawai’i; Haley Gilleland, Fresno State; Tiare Jennings, New Mexico State; Meghan Krieg, Louisiana Tech; Kanani Pu’u-Warren, Hawai’i; Stephanie Ricketts, Hawai’i; Kelsey Starr, Nevada; Caitlin Stiglich, Fresno State; and Sarah Taylor, San Jose State.

A Look Back: 2009
The Bulldogs went 2-2 at the Los Angeles Regional. Morgan Melloh struck out 16 batters in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over UNLV in the first game. The following day, Melloh struck out eight, but gave up four runs on five hits in a 4-2 loss to host UCLA. The Bulldogs had just three hits - one apiece by Lisamarie Coronado, Brooke Phipps and Ryane Peterson - in the loss. Later that night, the Bulldogs belted 14 hits, including two doubles, a triple and a grand slam, in a 12-2 win over Long Beach State. Haley Perkins was 4-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, while Michelle Moses was 2-for-5 and drove in five runs. Melloh picked up her 30th win of the season, allowing two runs on six hits, while fanning 10. After taking a 3-1 lead in the first inning, the Bulldogs gave up seven runs in the second inning and stranded seven runners on the game in a 9-5 loss to UCLA, bringing their season to an end. Perkins went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI, while Moses had a two-RBI double and a triple. Melloh suffered the loss, ending the season with a 30-16 record.

The Wolf Pack rattled off 12 hits in a 4-1 win over Cal Poly in the first game of the Palo Alto Regional. Brittany Puzey was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and a stolen base, while Danielle Patrick was 3-for-3 with a double and one RBI. Katie Holverson picked up the win, striking out four and improving to 28-9 on the year. The following day, Jessica Haight hit a solo homer to account for Nevada’s only run in a 9-1 loss to host Stanford. The Wolf Pack managed just two hits in the five-inning defeat. Holverson suffered the loss in the circle, throwing 3.2 innings. She gave up six runs, three earned, on six hits and struck out five. Later that night, Sarah Hunt hit a solo homer to score Nevada’s only run in a 6-1 loss to Cal Poly, ending the season for the Wolf Pack.

Eleven WAC softball players were named to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Region teams. A total of 264 players from 121 different institutions comprise the 10 regional teams. Nevada pitcher Katie Holverson, third baseman Sam Bias, and outfielders Britton Murdock and Brittany Puzey were named to the All-Pacific Region team to give the Wolf Pack the most honorees in the WAC with four. Joining them on the Pacific Region team was third baseman Kathy Cox of Boise State. Hawai‘i placed three players - pitcher Stephanie Ricketts, first baseman Amanda Tauali‘i and outfielder Tanisha Milca - on the All-West Region team. Fresno State pitcher Morgan Melloh, Louisiana Tech shortstop Amberly Waits and New Mexico State second baseman Tiare Jennings were also named to the West Region team. The all-region teams were chosen by NFCA member coaches from each region.

Haley Gilleland singled to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in the winning run as top-seeded Fresno State defeated No. 2 Nevada 3-2 in the title game of the WAC Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Boise State 4-0 and Louisiana Tech 5-0 earlier in the tournament and posted a 3-0 record. It was Fresno State’s third WAC Tournament championship in program history. Morgan Melloh earned MVP honors after going 3-0 with 27 strikeouts and allowing just two hits in three complete games.

2009 WAC Softball All-Tournament Team
Lisamarie Coronado, Fresno State
Kelli Fangonilo, San Jose State
Haley Gilleland, Fresno State
Katie Holverson, Nevada
Noelle Micka, Nevada
Hoku Nohara, New Mexico State
Danielle Patrick, Nevada
Kylie Randall, New Mexico State
Kelly Sweeney, Boise State
Amberly Waits, Louisiana Tech
MVP: Morgan Melloh, Fresno State

Six WAC softball players earned ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District honors. New Mexico State’s Kandis Jones led the way as a first-team honoree. Haley Perkins of Fresno State, Julie Franklin and Clare Warwick of Hawai‘i, Brittany Puzey of Nevada and Kim Watson of New Mexico State received second-team accolades.

Jones, a sophomore from La Mirda, Calif., boasts a 4.00 grade-point average as a community health major. She was named to the 2008 Academic All-WAC Freshman Team. She posted a .382 batting average with 41 runs, eight doubles, two homers and 24 RBI.

Perkins, a senior kinesiology major from Fresno, earned the honor for the third time in her career as she boasts a 3.59 GPA. She was a 2008 NFCA Scholar-Athlete, is a two-time WAC Scholar Athlete, a three-time Academic All-WAC honoree and a three-time Fresno State Scholar Athlete. She has been on the Dean’s List four times.

Franklin, a senior psychology major from Temple City, Calif., has a 3.96 GPA and graduated in May. She is three-time NFCA and UH Scholar-Athlete and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Warwick, a senior from Canberra, Australia, boasts a 3.89 GPA as a kinesiology and rehabilitation science major. She is a two-time Academic All-District first team honoree and three-time NFCA Scholar-Athlete.

A three-time Academic All-WAC honoree, Puzey has a 3.3 GPA as a psychology major. She is a senior from Carson City, Nev., and was one of 30 national candidates for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.

A Spokane, Wash., native, Watson has a 3.89 GPA and graduated in May with a degree in marketing and a minor in Spanish. This is the third consecutive year that she has been named to an Academic All-District team. She is a three-time Academic All-WAC honoree and a two-time NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete selection.

With two players hitting above .400 and eight with batting averages of .300 or better, New Mexico State finished the season with the nation’s best batting average at .340. It was the first time a WAC team led the country in that category. It was a single-season record for the Aggies and tied the 1998 Fresno State team for the highest team batting average in WAC history.

With eight triples on the year, Nevada’s Kym Silagyi not only set a Wolf Pack single-season record, but she led the nation in that category. It was the second year in a row that a WAC player tallied the highest number of triples in the nation, as Louisiana Tech’s Amberly Waits was tops in the country in 2008 with 10.

WAC Player of the Year Amberly Waits of Louisiana Tech won the WAC triple crown last year, leading the league in batting average (.488) and RBI (62), and tying for the most home runs with New Mexico State’s Tiare Jennings (17). In doing so, Waits became just the third player in WAC history to win the triple crown, joining Scia Maumausolo (Cal State Northridge in 1995) and Christina Clark (Fresno State in 2004).

Fresno State sophomore hurler Morgan Melloh notched her 900th career strikeout in the bottom of the third inning against Long Beach State in the NCAA Regional May 16. In doing so, she became just the second WAC pitcher and first sophomore ever to have 900 strikeouts. Melloh now has 904 on her career, good for second place all-time in the WAC.

Earlier in the month, Melloh notched her 400th strikeout of the season to became just the fourth pitcher in NCAA history to record back-to-back 400 strikeout seasons in her first two years in college. Melloh finished the season with 450, four shy of the all-time WAC single-season record of 454, which she set as a freshman.

Fresno State and Nevada shared the 2009 WAC regular-season title, as both teams finished WAC play with identical 15-5 records. It was the 10th WAC title for the Bulldogs and second in a row for the Wolf Pack. Fresno State earned the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament by virtue of a 2-1 record vs. Nevada.
Hawai‘i’s Stephanie Ricketts tossed her second no-hitter of the season in an 8-0 win over Boise State on May 1. She faced just 16 batters - one over the minimum - with no walks and four strikeouts in the mercy-rule ended game. She threw strikes in 41 of her 61 pitches in the game and retired the final 10 batters in a row.

Ricketts threw the first no-hitter of the season in the WAC vs. Louisiana Tech on March 22. She retired the first 12 batters before issuing a walk, the only thing that kept her from a perfect game. She then proceeded to retire the next nine batters for the no-hitter.

Fresno State head coach Margie Wright picked up her 300th WAC victory with an extra-innings win over Nevada on April 17, becoming the first WAC coach to ever to reach the milestone. Wright is also the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach with more than 1,300 career victories.

Tiare Jennings broke three NM State single-season records in the series against Boise State April 17-18. She finished the season with new marks for RBI (61), home runs (17) and runs scored (55). The freshman also tied the NM State single-game home run record with two in the series finale.

New Mexico State senior right-handed pitcher Kim Watson broke the school career wins record when she registered her 59th career victory on April 18. Watson also set the school strikeout record with 667 surpassing Hall of Famer Jo Kord’s 26-year-old record of 590. Her 667 strikeouts also ranked sixth all-time in the WAC, while her 65 wins rank 10th.

Nevada freshman pitcher Mallary Darby tossed the second no-hitter in the WAC and the third no-hitter in school history in blanking Boise State 8-0 in five innings on April 11. It was the first no-hitter of Darby’s career. She did not walk a batter and struck out eight. The only blips in the performance were a pair of hit batters in the second inning that kept if from being a perfect game. Darby’s gem is Nevada’s first no-hitter away from home.

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