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This Week in WAC Softball
Courtesy: WAC

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK – Hawai‘i’s Kate Robinson and New Mexico State’s Vanessa Fitzgerald have been named the Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. This is the first honor for both this season.
 Robinson, a junior from Honolulu, O’ahu (Kamehameha Schools), hit .556 with three home runs and a team-high seven RBI to lead Hawai‘i to a perfect 3-0 record last week. Against Southern Utah, she hit a two-RBI double and a pair of two-run home runs as the Rainbow Wahine beat the Lions, 16-0. During UH’s two-game sweep of Loyola Marymount, Robinson had the game-winning home run in the top of the seventh for a 1-0 win over the Lions. Robinson also led UH with a slugging percentage of 1.667 for the week.

Fitzgerald, a freshman from Cloverdale, Calif. (Cloverdale HS), threw a no-hitter in her first career start, leading New Mexico State to a win over McNeese State, 8-0. Fitzgerald started two of three games, striking out seven and only giving up three runs in 12.0 innings of work. She was 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA and also recorded her first save, as the Aggies beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 4-3.

Other hitter of the week nominees included: Rochelle Sandberg, junior, Louisiana Tech; Kristi Randall, sophomore, New Mexico State; Brittany Puzey, sophomore, Nevada; and Amanda Grow, freshman, Utah State.

Other pitcher of the week nominees included: Justine Smethurst, sophomore, Hawai‘i; and Katie Holverson, freshman, Nevada.

ON DECK – In week three of WAC softball, six teams will be participating in tournaments. Utah State head coach Candi Letts will be returning to her old stomping grounds when the Aggies travel to the Colorado State Tournament in Fort Collins, Colo. No. 25 Hawai‘i returns home and hosts the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament.  Nevada will travel to California for a tournament, while Fresno State travels to Nevada. New Mexico State heads to Tampa for the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament.

HAWAI‘I EARNS TOP 25 RANKING – The Rainbow Wahine softball team (12-2) made their first appearance ever today in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll at No. 24. Hawai‘i has been ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/USA Today coaches poll before. But it’s the first time since the end of the 2003 season when UH won their first WAC Championship and advanced to their sixth NCAA tournament that they’ve entered the Top 25. The Rainbow Wahine are ranked No. 25 in the NFCA/USA Today coaches poll. The Rainbow Wahine, who were just outside the Top 25 in both polls last week, are on a seven game win streak, after going 7-1 on their first road trip. In the first week of the season, UH defeated then No.15 Nebraska twice and former No.24 Auburn, as well as DePaul and Portland State. After falling to Cal State Fullerton 3-2 in the opening game of the Louisville-Slugger Desert Classic, UH went on to defeat Colorado State, Mississippi State, Cal State Northridge, Utah, and Southern Utah. UH ended its trip with a double header sweep of Loyola Marymount. The ESPN.com/USA Softball poll has been in existence since 2003.

AGAINST THE BEST – WAC schools are 3-11 against ranked teams this young season. Hawai‘i is 3-0 with two wins against then-No. 15 Nebraska and a win against No. 24 Auburn. San Jose and Utah State have both lost to No. 10 California. Fresno State lost to Northwestern and Texas A&M. Nevada is 0-4 against ranked competition.

NEVADA'S MCPHERSON REACHES MILESTONE – Nevads junior Jordan McPherson reached a career milestone with her appearance in Nevada’s game versus No. 15 Washington.  The appearance marked the junior’s 100th career appearance for the Pack.  Over the weekend at the Palm Springs Classic, McPherson made four appearances to reach the century mark.  McPherson’s 96th career appearance versus Northern Colorado on February 18 made her first all-time in the career record book in career appearances, passing former teammate Candice Rainwater (2003-06), who had 95 career appearances in the circle for Nevada.

LETTS RETURNS TO CSU – Utah State will play eight games in four days when the Aggies head to Colorado to face Northern Colorado in a four-game, two-day series on Thursday and Friday, March 1-2.  On Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4, USU head coach Letts leads the Aggies into her old stomping grounds playing in the double-round robin Colorado State Tournament at Fort Collins, Colo., where USU will meet Northern Colorado again and Colorado State.   Letts was head coach at Colorado State from 1994-98, amassing a 160-106-1 (.602) record in her five seasons there, as she re-established the softball program after it had been eliminated for one season. In 1997, Letts led the Rams to a 51-14 mark, winning the WAC championship and finishing ninth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) final poll. That season Letts was named the WAC Coach of the Year, as well as the NCAA West Regional Coach of the Year. Letts had a 160-106 (.602) record with the Rams. The 160 wins is a CSU school record.

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.

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 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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