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This Week in WAC Softball - Feb. 22
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
Hawai`i’s Jessica Iwata and San Jose State’s Jennifer Ames have been named the Verizon Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for Feb. 14-20. This is the first honor of the season and second of her career for Iwata and the first honor of the season and second of her career for Ames.

Iwata, a sophomore shortstop from Lihu`e, Kaua`i, hit .526 (10-for-19) in five games at the Louisville-Slugger Desert Classic last weekend. She had a team-high 1.474 slugging percentage and also led UH in runs scored (9), hits (10), home runs (6) and RBI (10). Against Utah, Iwata helped UH mount a furious comeback in the final two innings, hitting a pair of homers. In Hawai`i’s next game against Long Beach State, she started the game blasting her third homer of the tournament and third homer in as many at-bats. Then, against No. 19 Stanford, Iwata went 4-for-4 with three solo home runs. It marked the second time in her career that she’s drilled three home runs in a single game. Iwata is currently on a six-game hitting streak.

Ames, a junior from San Jose, Calif., went 2-0 and recorded a save as the Spartans went 6-0 last week. She posted a 0.48 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched, allowing just one earned run and striking out three.

Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: Boise State’s Kellie Caplan hit .588 with five RBI on the week … Nicole Angene of Fresno State was 2-for-3 in a win over No. 8 Missouri … Louisiana Tech’s Janna Frandrup earned all-tournament team honors at the Mississippi State Bulldog Round Robin after hitting .500 over four games … Nevada’s Lauren Lastrapes hit .533 with four extra-base hits on the week … Kylie Randall of New Mexico State hit .474 one double and one home run as the Aggies went 4-2 on the week … San Jose State’s Alex Stange hit .571 with three RBI as the Spartans went 6-0 on the week … Kelley Kaneshiro of Utah State hit .467 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI on the week.

Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: Fresno State’s Michelle Moses went 1-0 on the week with a complete-game victory over No. 8 Missouri … Michelle Jones of Louisiana Tech went 1-0 with a complete-game victory over Butler … New Mexico State’s Alex Newman went 2-0 with five strikeouts on the week.

Michelle Moses hit the first cycle in Fresno State softball history in the first game of a doubleheader against Sacramento State on Feb. 12. She opened her production at the plate with a two-run home run in the third inning, then followed with a double in the fifth, a single in the seventh and a triple in the ninth inning.

Fresno State will host the 2011 WAC Softball Tournament for the second time in the last three years. The top six teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament, which will be held at Bulldog Diamond from May 11-14. It is the fifth time the Bulldogs have hosted the event.

Top-seeded Hawai`i defeated No. 2-seed Fresno State to claim its first-ever WAC Tournament title last season in Las Cruces, N.M. and earn the WAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The WAC softball coaches selected Hawai`i to win the 2011 WAC regular-season crown. This is the third time the Rainbow Wahine have been the favorite to take the crown (2002, 2008).

Reigning WAC champion Hawai`i took the top spot in the preseason poll with 48 points and six first-place votes. Fresno State came in second, picking up two first-place vote and 43 points, followed by Boise State in third place. New Mexico State edged Louisiana Tech for fourth place. Nevada was picked to finish sixth (24), followed by San Jose State in seventh with 13 points. Utah State rounded out the poll in eighth place with eight points.

Hawai`i junior hurler Stephanie Ricketts was selected in a vote of the league’s eight coaches as the preseason Pitcher of the Year, while teammate sophomore outfielder Kelly Majam earned preseason Player of the Year honors.

Hawai`i placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with five, while Fresno State had three and New Mexico State had two. Joining Ricketts and Majam on the preseason team are Hawai`i’s Melissa Gonzalez, Jessica Iwata and Jenna Rodriguez, Fresno State’s Haley Gilleland, Michelle Moses and Caitlin Stiglich, New Mexico State’s Tiare Jennings and Hoku Nohara, Meghan Krieg of Louisiana Tech, Allie Crump of Boise State and Amanda Pridmore of San Jose State.

All but one member of the preseason all-WAC team was named to the 2011 all-WAC team. Ten members were first team all-WAC honorees a year ago (Gilleland, Gonzalez, Iwata, Jennings, Krieg, Majam, Moses, Ricketts, Rodriguez and Stiglich), while two 2010 second-team honorees are on the team (Crump and Nohara).

Two WAC softball players – Hawai`i’s Melissa Gonzalez and Kelly Majam – have been named to the watch list for the 10th annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

Gonzalez, a 2010 first team NFCA All-American, had a breakout season last year as a junior, posting career highs in batting average (.394), hits (81), doubles (13), home runs (25), RBI (60) and slugging percentage (.807). She was ranked fourth nationally in home runs (25) and 17th in slugging percentage (.457) while leading UH with 25 multiple-hit games, five in which she hit two home runs.
Majam, an NFCA and All-American and reigning WAC Freshman of the Year, had one of the best individual seasons in UH history. She finished the season as the NCAA home run leader while setting new WAC and UH single-season home run records with 30. Nationally, she ranked fourth in runs per game (81), fifth in slugging percentage (.919), 27th in on-base percentage (.519) and 42nd in batting average (.400). Majam broke the UH single-season records for runs scored (88) and walks (44).

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 2011 Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 36 schools and 15 different conferences.

A list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 11. The three finalists will be announced May 25, while the winner of the 2011 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced prior to the start of the 2011 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

After leading the nation with 30 home runs last year, Hawai`i’s Kelly Majam was selected to the Preseason All-America first team.

Majam has also been named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Award “Watch List,” is the WAC Preseason Player of the Year and was selected to the preseason all-WAC team.

The WAC will feature 10 players who were 2010 first team all-WAC performers. Five of the returners come from Hawai`i - senior third baseman Melissa Gonzalez, sophomore shortstop and reigning WAC Player of the Year Jessica Iwata, sophomore outfielder and reigning WAC Freshman of the Year Kelly Majam, junior pitcher and reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Ricketts and senior outfielder Jenna Rodriguez. Fresno State returns three players (Haley Gilleland, Michelle Moses and Caitlin Stiglich). New Mexico State returns Tiare Jennings, while Louisiana Tech returns Meghan Krieg.

Second team returnees include: Kellie Caplan, Boise State; Allie Crump, Boise State; Kandis Jones, New Mexico State; Hoku Nohara, New Mexico State; Andrea Ortega, Fresno State; Danielle Patrick, Nevada; and Kylie Randall, New Mexico State.
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