This Week in WAC Softball - Feb. 2
Boise State begins its inaugural season in 2009 under the guidance of head coach Erin Thorpe.
Hired Sept. 4, 2007, Thorpe was given the responsibility to build the Bronco program from scratch. She spent the 2007-08 school year putting the team together, working on a schedule and getting the Boise State softball program ready to begin play for the 2009 season.
Prior to Boise State, Thorpe was the head softball coach at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif., for five seasons (2003-2007).
Thorpe played intercollegiate softball at UC San Diego, where she earned All-America honors in 2000 as a shortstop. She was also a four-time All-West Region selection and the 2000 UCSD Female Athlete of the Year.
FRESNO STATE TO HOST 2009 TOURNAMENT
Fresno State will host the WAC Softball Tournament for the fourth time in 2009. The top seven teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament, which will be held at the Bulldog Diamond from May 6-9.
Fourth-seeded Louisiana Tech captured its first-ever WAC Tournament last season in Honolulu. The Techsters were outstanding, winning four straight games against top 25 teams over four days.
FRESNO STATE PICKED TO WIN 2009 WAC TITLE
The Western Athletic Conference softball coaches selected Fresno State to win the 2009 WAC regular-season crown. This is the 12th time in the last 14 years that the Bulldogs have been the preseason favorite to take the crown. Fresno State is the only team in the nation to play in all 27 NCAA Tournaments.
The coaches also voted on 2009 preseason award winners. Fresno State sophomore hurler Morgan Melloh earned preseason Pitcher of the Year honors, while Hawai‘i senior outfielder Clare Warwick earned preseason Player of the Year honors.
Fresno State took the top spot in the preseason poll with 48 points. Nevada edged Hawai‘i for second place with 40 points to the Rainbow Wahine’s 39.
Last year’s WAC Tournament champion Louisiana Tech tied with New Mexico State for fourth place with 28 points. San Jose State was picked to finish sixth with 21 points, while Utah State was picked to finish seventh with 12 points. League newcomer Boise State rounded out the poll in eighth place with eight points.
Hawai‘i and Nevada placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with three each, while Fresno State, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State had two apiece. Joining Melloh and Warwick on the preseason first team are Nevada’s Noelle Micka, Kym Silagyi and Brittany Puzey, Hawai‘i’s Audrey Andrade and Tanisha Milca, Amberly Waits and Krissi Oliver of Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State’s Kristi Randall and Stacey Lien, Haley Perkins of Fresno State and Brittany McConnell of San Jose State.
GALINDO EARNS SILVER IN BEIJING
San Jose State assistant coach Vicky Galindo, a member of the U.S. National Softball Team, was part of the squad that earned a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, last summer. Galindo was 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI in six games played.
This season, all seven teams return at least 10 letterwinners. Hawai‘i and Louisiana Tech return the most letterwinners with 15. New Mexico State returns 14, while Nevada returns 13. Utah State and Fresno State have 12 returning letterwinners, while San Jose State returns 10. Louisiana Tech, Nevada and New Mexico State all return eight starters.
The following is a list of teams and the number of letterwinners returning and lost and starters returning and lost.
|New Mexico State||14||2||8||1|
|San Jose State||10||3||7||2|
RETURNING ALL-WAC PLAYERS
The WAC will feature six players who were 2008 first team all-WAC performers. Four of the returners come from Nevada - sophomore catcher Noelle Micka, junior first baseman Kelsey Starr, sophomore shortstop Danielle Patrick and senior outfielder Brittany Puzey. Fresno State returns sophomore pitcher Morgan Melloh, while Louisiana Tech returns utility player Jessica Kirby.
Second team returnees include: pitcher Katie Holverson, Nevada, first baseman Audrey Andrade, Hawai‘i, second baseman Kym Silagyi, Nevada, third baseman Clare Warwick, Hawai‘i, shortstop Amberly Waits, Louisiana Tech, outfielder Tanisha Milca, Hawai‘i, outfielder Sarah Taylor, San Jose State, utility player Britton Murdock, Nevada, pitcher Krissi Oliver, Louisiana Tech, and catcher Stacey Lien, New Mexico State.
TOP STAT LEADERS
The top returning stat leaders in the WAC from last year include:
|Category||Name, School||Statistic/2008 Rank|
|Batting Average||Noelle Micka, NEV||.399/1st|
|Slugging Pct.||Kelley Kaneshiro, USU||.692/2nd|
|On Base Pct.||Noelle Micka, NEV||.457/3rd|
|Runs||Haley Perkins, FS||48/1st|
|Hits||Noelle Micka, NEV||83/1st|
|RBI||Caitlin Stiglich, FS||52/2nd|
|Doubles||Noelle Micka, NEV||18/1st|
|Triples||Amberly Waits, Louisiana Tech||10/1st|
|Home Runs||Brittany McConnell, SJSU||13/3rd|
|Stolen Bases||Haley Gilleland, FS||23/1st|
|ERA||Morgan Melloh, FS||1.28/1st|
|Wins||Morgan Melloh, FS||42/1st|
|Saves||Katie Holverson, NEV||6/1st|
|Strikeouts||Morgan Melloh, FS||454/1st|
FRESNO STATE’S MELLOH EARNS EASTON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Morgan Melloh was named a first team Easton All-American. Melloh was one of just 14 student-athletes from across the country to be named to the first team and the only representative from the WAC.
A total of 17 Bulldogs have earned the Easton honor since the award began in 2000. Melloh was named the WAC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year along with co-MVP of the NCAA Fresno Regional. She had a 42-9 record in the circle and led the Bulldogs to a 54-13 record, their best since the 1999 season.
The lefthander from Fishers, Ind., set school single-season records in appearances (59), wins (42), innings pitched (360.1) and strikeouts (454). She also ranked in the Top 10 in a single season in complete games (44), games started (46), strikeouts per seven innings (8.82), shutouts (20) and saves (3).
FRESNO STATE’S MELLOH, NEVADA’S MICKA NAMED ALL-AMERICANS
Fresno State pitcher Morgan Melloh and Nevada catcher Noelle Micka earned second team All-America honors by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Melloh led the Bulldogs in the circle with a 42-9 record, guiding the team to its best record (54-13) since the 1999 season. Micka led the Wolf Pack to their first-ever WAC regular season title and a 44-18 record.
Melloh was the first Bulldog freshman to earn All-America honors since shortstop Christina Clark earned second team honors in 2004. Melloh was also the first freshman pitcher to earn the honor since Jamie Southern was named to the first team in 2002. She became the 22nd second team All-America selection in Bulldog history and the 54th All-American under head coach Margie Wright.
Melloh was named the WAC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year, first team All-West Region, Co-MVP of the Fresno Regional all-tournament team, WAC Pitcher of the Week five times and Toyota/gobulldogs.com student-athlete of the week three times.
Melloh ranked among the national leaders each week in wins (second), ERA (Top 20), strikeouts per seven innings (Top 20) and saves (Top 30).
Micka had a stellar campaign for the Wolf Pack, leading them back to the NCAA Tournament. She was the first Nevada player to earn All-Region and All-America honors. The freshman catcher had one of the finest single-seasons in school history with a .399 batting average and 18 doubles, both of which led the WAC.
Micka had 83 hits, 43 runs scored and 41 RBI, leading the team in seven statistical categories. She also set single-season school records in batting average, hits and total bases. Micka was one of nine Wolf Pack players to earn all-WAC honors.
WAC SENDS FOUR TEAMS TO NCAA TOURNAMENT
For the first time since 1995, the WAC sent four softball teams to the NCAA Tournament. WAC Tournament champion Louisiana Tech was joined by Fresno State, Nevada and Hawai‘i in the postseason. All four teams had a strong showings in the NCAA Tournament, as all survived to the final day of the regionals.
BULLDOGS FALL IN FRESNO REGIONAL
Fresno State routed Sacramento State 11-0 in the first day of the Fresno Regional. Morgan Melloh allowed just two hits and struck out eight in the win.
The Bulldogs were shut out (3-0) by California in their first game of day two, but rebounded with a 2-0 shutout of San Diego State to remain alive.
On day three, Fresno State earned a 3-2 win over California in game one and overcame a 5-0 deficit in game two to tie the game at 6-6, but the Bulldogs’ season ended with a 7-6 loss in nine innings.
Melloh was named tournament co-MVP after pitching all five games. She posted 31 strikeouts and held opponents to a .193 batting average. Melloh also hit .250 with two RBI.
HAWAI‘I FALLS IN TEMPE REGIONAL
Five Hawai‘i players had multi-hit games as the Rainbow Wahine defeated Mississippi State 9-7 in their first game of the Tempe Regional.
On day two, Hawai‘i defeated Mississippi State 7-4 before being shut out 10-0 by host Arizona State. The Sun Devils, eventual College World Series champions, then overpowered Hawai‘i, 8-0, in five innings on day three to eliminate the Wahine from the Tempe Regional.
LOUISIANA TECH FALLS IN COLLEGE STATION REGIONAL
Emma Barnes’ two-out RBI single in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference as Louisiana Tech defeated Auburn 1-0 in a classic pitchers duel in the first game of the College Station Regional.
On day two, the Techsters fell 4-0 to fourth-ranked Texas A&M, but rebounded with a 2-1 win over Auburn.
Louisiana Tech’s Cinderella run came to an end when host Texas A&M exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to break open a scoreless game and defeat the Techsters 6-0.
NEVADA FALLS IN LOS ANGELES REGIONAL
The Wolf Pack claimed their first-ever NCAA Regional victory with a 4-1 win over Purdue in their first game of the Los Angeles Regional. Katie Holverson tossed a complete-game three-hitter and Britton Murdock slammed a three-run home run to propel Nevada to the victory.
On day two, Nevada was one out away from defeating host UCLA, but fell 6-4 in nine innings. Nevada led 4-3 entering the seventh inning, but UCLA was able to push a run across and tie the game. The Bruins then scored twice in the ninth to win it. The Wolf Pack remained alive with a 2-1 win over Purdue in the elimination game.
Nevada’s quest for an NCAA Regional championship fell short as the Wolf Pack fell 4-3 in the title game to UCLA at Easton Stadium. The Wolf Pack led 3-2 at one point in the game and the contest was tied at 3 going into the sixth inning. But the Pack gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the six and could not get a rally going in the seventh inning.
LADY TECHSTERS WIN FIRST WAC TOURNAMENT
Louisiana Tech became just the second fourth-seed ever to capture the WAC Tournament title with a thrilling 2-1 victory over top-seeded Nevada. The Lady Techsters advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1995. Tournament MVP Krissi Oliver was solid in the circle and at the plate. She blasted her seventh home run of the season to give the Lady Techsters the lead in the top of the seventh. Oliver also earned the win on the mound, with Wanda Malone earning the save. Nevada senior Jordan McPherson was stellar for the Wolf Pack, allowing only six hits.
|Kylie Bassett||So.||1B||Louisiana Tech|
|Regan Clark||Sr.||C||Louisiana Tech|
|Stephanie Herrera||Sr.||OF||New Mexico State|
|Ashley Maroda||Fr.||3B||New Mexico State|
|*Krissi Oliver||Jr.||P||Louisiana Tech|
|Danielle Sheridan||Jr.||OF||Louisiana Tech|
|Sarah Taylor||Jr.||OF||San Jose State|
HISTORY IN WAC POSTSEASON HONORS
Fresno State’s Morgan Melloh became just the third freshman in school history to be named the WAC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year in the same season. Melloh joined Robin Mackin (2006) and Jamie Southern (2002) as the other Bulldog pitchers to earn both awards in the same season. She became the eighth Bulldog in school history to win WAC Freshman of the Year honors.
Nevada placed a program-record nine players on the 2008 all-WAC softball team. Senior outfielder Vanessa Briones was named the WAC’s Player of the Year and Michelle Gardner was named the Coach of the Year. It was the first year the Wolf Pack earned Player or Coach of the Year honors.
NEVADA EARNS FIRST WAC REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
The Nevada softball team claimed its first WAC regular-season title. The Wolf Pack beat San Jose State 3-2 in game one of a doubleheader to clinch the WAC championship. The Pack swept the Spartans in the doubleheader with a 5-4 win in eight innings to complete the series sweep. With the title, Nevada earned the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament.
IN THE POLLS
It was an historic season for the Fresno State softball team and they were recognized for their achievements in the final polls of 2008, ending the year at No. 15 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls. The Bulldogs started the season receiving votes in both polls but quickly moved into the top 25, jumping in at No. 23 in the NFCA poll in week five. Fresno State reached as high as No. 10 in that poll in week 12 and remained there for three weeks. The No. 10 ranking was the highest by the NFCA for the Bulldogs since the 2002 season.
A No. 9 ranking by USA Softball was the highest-ever for the Bulldogs in the five-year history of that poll. Fresno State started at No. 21 the week of Feb. 25 and reached No. 9 on April 29.
Nevada finished the season ranked in both national top 25 polls. The Wolf Pack was ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and was No. 20 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. Nevada won the WAC regular-season title.
Both Hawai‘i and Louisiana Tech received votes in both polls.
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 set 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 in the season at Utah State. In the WAC, the previous record was seven RBI which was held by three athletes.
MELLOH BREAKS WAC RECORDS
Bulldog freshman Morgan Melloh broke the WAC single-season records for wins (42), innings pitched (360.2) and strikeouts (454).
TEN NAMED TO ALL-REGION TEAM
Ten WAC players earned Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-West Region honors. Fresno State placed four players on the team, while Hawai‘i and Nevada had three players selected for the prestigious honor.
First team honorees included Fresno State’s Morgan Melloh, Haley Gilleland and Jenna Cervantez, Hawai‘i’s Kaulana Gould and Kate Robinson, and Nevada’s Noelle Micka.
Named to the second team were Aja Scheuber of Fresno State, Brandi Peiler of Hawai‘i, and Vanessa Briones and Katie Holverson of Nevada.
The All-West Region team members are voted on by coaches in the West Region, made up of teams from the WAC, the Mountain West Conference, the Big West Conference and independent Utah Valley.
Only players who make all-region teams are eligible for NFCA All-America honors.