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This Week in WAC Softball
Courtesy: WAC

A NEW ERA AT UTAH STATE – Utah State officially opens the Candi Letts era when the first-year head coach leads the Aggies into the BYU/UVSC Red Desert Classic this weekend at St. George, Utah. The tournament will be played on two fields at Canyons Complex and is co-hosted by BYU and Utah Valley State. The Aggies open the Letts era with an 11 a.m. game against Southern Utah on Friday, Feb. 9. USU returns to the diamond at 1:30 p.m. Friday to take on co-host BYU. Saturday’s schedules pits Utah State against Idaho State at 1:30 p.m. and Dixie State at 4 p.m. Utah State returns five starters among 14 returning letterwinners from last season’s 8-38 overall and 3-14 WAC ledger.

WOLF PACK RETURNS MUCH OF WAC TOURNAMENT WINNING TEAM – 2006 WAC Tournament MVP and preseason all-WAC honoree, pitcher Jordan McPherson, returns for her junior season. McPherson holds program records for lowest career ERA, 2.27, most career strikeouts, 342, and most games started, 69. Sarah Hunt, an all-WAC honoree who led the Nevada starters in batting average and Kym Silagyi, who was named to the all-WAC Tournament team return for their sophomore seasons. Junior Kristin Stith, a 2005 all-WAC honoree and a 2006 preseason all-WAC team member, will return to the Pack lineup after missing the 2006 season with a broken arm.

NEW MEXICO STATE TO HOST SECOND-STRAIGHT TOURNAMENT– This weekend marks the 29th edition of the Troy Cox Classic and the Aggie softball team is primed to host their second softball tournament in as many weeks. NMSU will play host to Morehead State, Utah Valley State, Miami (Ohio), George Mason and Texas State. The Aggies have won the Troy Cox Classic twice before in 1983 and 1998.

Originally the Troy Cox Classic was named the Roadrunner Invitational (NMSU’s women’s sports teams used to be referred to as the Roadrunners). In the fall of 1989, the name was changed to honor the memory of former NMSU assistant softball coach Troy Cox, who was killed in an automobile accident the previous summer. Cox was 24 years old when he passed away. He served as an assistant under then-NMSU head coach Greg Berry for four years while working toward his undergraduate degree at NMSU. Cox’s ambition after graduating was to become a collegiate softball coach, preferably for NMSU. He was a native of Las Cruces and a graduate of Mayfield High School.

MACKIN’S SUMMER VACATION – The Fresno State softball program continues to produce elite athletes on the international level. Sophomore pitcher Robin Mackin had a solid summer representing her home country of Canada.
 Mackin, a native of Newmarket, Ontario, helped Canada not only qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, but also was part of history when the women’s national softball team became the first Canadian sport to qualify for the upcoming summer Olympics.

Taking fifth place at the XI International Softball Federation World Championships in Beijing, Canada earned the final berth that was available at the Worlds when it defeated Italy, 3-0. Mackin combined with fellow pitcher Lauren Bay with a no-hit performance and eight strikeouts versus the Italians in the deciding game.

bUtah State is 21-10 all-time in season-openers, but the Aggies have lost their last five season-openers, and seven of the last eight after winning seven in a row from 1992-98... the last season to open with a win was the 2001 season, as the Aggies beat Missouri on Feb. 9, the same date as this season’s opener.

FRESNO STATE TO HOST 2007 TOURNAMENT – For the second-straight season, the WAC Softball Tournament will be held in Fresno, Calif. This will be only the second tournament since 1999.  This season, all seven teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament. The tournament will be held at Bulldog Diamond from May 10-12.
 Fourth-seeded Nevada captured its first WAC Tournament last season. The Wolf  Pack defeated third-seeded Hawai‘i twice on the final day to win the tournament. Nevada was led by pitcher Jordan McPherson who pitched all 41 innings of the WAC Tournament without allowing an earned run.

NMSU HOSTS FIRST TOURNAMENT OF THE SEASON – The New Mexico State softball team is hosting the 2007 Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces Invitational on Feb. 9-11 at the NMSU Softball Complex. The field includes Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference, North Texas from the Sun Belt Conference and Sam Houston State from the Southland Conference. Play begins on Friday at 10:30 a.m. when Colorado State and Sam Houston State face off in the tournament opener. Sunday is the final day of the tournament; there will be a consolation game at 9:00 a.m. and the championship game follows that at 11:30 a.m. In the 2006 tournament, then named the Hilton Las Cruces Invitational, NMSU collected a 3-3 record.

FRESNO STATE PICKED TO WIN 2006 WAC TITLE – The Western Athletic Conference softball coaches selected Fresno State to win the 2007 WAC regular season crown. Fresno State has been picked to take the preseason crown 11 out of the last 12 years. In 2002, Hawai‘i was chosen to win the title. The coaches also voted on 2007 preseason award winners. For the second-straight season Robin Mackin earned preseason Pitcher of the Year honors. Hawai‘i first baseman Tyleen Tausaga earned preseason Player of the Year honors. The last Rainbow Wahine player to earn preseason Player of the Year honors was shortstop Kate Judd who earned the award before the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Fresno State edged out Hawai‘i with 35 points to the Rainbow Wahine’s 30. Defending WAC Tournament Champions Nevada was picked to finish third with 28 points. This is the the second-straight year that Wolf Pack have been picked third in the preseason. The Bulldogs and the Wolf Pack were the only WAC teams to advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. Fresno State is the only team in the nation to play in all 25 NCAA Tournaments.

New Mexico State finished fourth with 21 points followed by San Jose State with 14 points. Louisiana Tech was picked to finish sixth with 10 points, while Utah State was picked to finish seventh with nine points.

RETURNING ALL-WAC PLAYERS – The WAC will feature 11 players who were 2006 first team all-WAC performers. Fresno State returns WAC Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, sophomore Robin Mackin. The Bulldogs also return sophomore third baseman Haley Perkins. Hawai‘i returns first baseman Tyleen Tausaga, pitcher Justine Smethurst and outfielder Kaulana Gould. All three Louisiana Tech first-team all-WAC honorees return, including catcher Regan Clark, second baseman Rochelle Sandberg and outfielder Emma Barnes. New Mexico State also returns outfielder Kristi Randall, outfielder Rishelle Gastelum and designated player Stacey Lien.Second team returnees include: 2B Jenna Cervantez, Fresno State; 3B Jessica Elson, Louisiana Tech; OF Shannon Garvin, Fresno State; OF Tanisha Milca, Hawai‘i; OF Mandy Winkley, San Jose State; DP Audrey Andrade, Hawai‘i; 3B Sarah Hunt, Nevada and P Jordan McPherson, Nevada.

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