This Week in WAC Softball - March 20
Hawai‘i’s Jessica Iwata and Stephanie Ricketts have been named the Verizon Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for March 12-18. This is the first honor of the season and third of her career for Iwata and the third of the season and 10th overall for Ricketts.
Iwata, a junior shortstop from Lihu‘e, Kaua‘i (Kaua‘i HS), hit .286 with a double, a home run and three RBI, including a pair of game-winning, walk-off RBI, as the Rainbow Wahine faced three teams ranked in the top 25, including two in the top 10. Against No. 1/2 California, Iwata drilled a two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Hawai‘i to a 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten Golden Bears. In the final game of the tournament, she hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive in Dara Pagaduan in the bottom of the seventh inning to give UH a 2-1 win over Winthrop. For the week, Iwata had a team-high .353 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage.
Ricketts, a senior from San Jose, Calif. (Archbishop Mitty HS), went 2-2 on the week and earned one of the biggest wins in Hawai‘i history, defeating No. 1/2 California. Against the top-ranked Golden Bears, she threw all 10 innings without giving up an earned run and posted a season-high 12 strikeouts. For the week, she threw four complete games, including three straight, and posted a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts.
Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: Delaney Willard of Brigham Young hit .444 with three RBI last week ... Fresno State’s Stesha Brazil hit .333 with a double, a triple and four RBI ... Erin Kipp of Louisiana Tech hit .500 with two doubles, two homers and four RBI ... New Mexico State’s Staci Rodriguez hit a game-winning three-run homer to give the Aggies a win over No. 23 New Mexico in their only game last week ... Annica Wolfe of San Jose State hit .364 with a double and one RBI on the week ... Utah State’s Christine Thomsen had a triple, a home run and three RBI on the week.
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: Tori Almond of Brigham Young went 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts in two appearances last week ... Fresno State’s Michelle Moses went 2-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 21 strikeouts ... Erin Kipp of Louisiana Tech pitched her first career shutout last week ... New Mexico State’s Karysta Donisthorpe picked up a pair of wins and had a 0.69 ERA with 12 strikeouts on the week ... Amanda Pridmore of San Jose State went 2-1 with 19 strikeouts and a 0.36 ERA.
HAWAI‘I HANDS NO. 2 CAL ITS FIRST LOSS OF THE SEASON IN EXTRA INNINGS
Hawai‘i shortstop Jessica Iwata hit a two-run, walk off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Rainbow Wahine over No. 1/2 California, 3-1. Stephanie Ricketts earned the complete-game win over the previously unbeaten Golden Bears. It was a pitcher’s duel with the score tied at 0-0 through the first nine innings of play. Ricketts stranded 17 California runners on base in the game. She threw 10.0 innings, giving up one unearned run while scattering seven hits. She tied her season-high with 12 strikeouts.
Cal broke the scoreless game in the top of the 10th inning. With the international tie-breaker rules in place, Jace Williams was at second base to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Elia Reid pushed Williams to third. After a walk, Henderson hit a slow roller to short that was mishandled for an error that allowed Reid to score from third on two outs.
But in the bottom of the 10th, UH fought back. Kayla Wartner was placed at second base to start off the inning and Robinson then drove a single to left-centerfield. Wartner moved to third on the hit, but the throw home from the centerfielder sailed past the catcher and ricocheted around the backstop to allow Wartner to dive across home plate for the tying run. The ensuing batter, Iwata, then came through with the clutch two-run blast to left field to end the game and Cal’s 23-game win streak. It was Iwata’s fifth home run of the season and 38th of her career.
The last time UH defeated a No. 1 team was in 2007, when it held on to defeat No. 1 Tennessee 9-6 at the Super Regional in Knoxville, Tenn., in the second game of the series. Alabama, which UH defeated in the 2010 Super Regional, was ranked No. 4 at the time, but was seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament.
SAN JOSE STATE’S COX BREAKS SCHOOL HITTING STREAK RECORD
San Jose State freshman Michelle Cox broke the program’s hitting streak record when she hit in 19 consecutive games before the streak ended against Stanford on March 11. Cox broke the old record of 17 games set by Pat Martinez during the 1995 season.
HAWAI‘I SETS SCHOOL WIN STREAK RECORD
On March 10, Hawai‘i defeated Radford 4-0 to break its previous win-streak record of 18 set in 2010. The Rainbow Wahine extended the streak to 21 games before losing to No. 6 Texas on March 13.
PRIDMORE BECOMES SJSU’S CAREER SAVES LEADER
San Jose State junior Amanda Pridmore tied and then broke the San Jose State career saves record on March 9. She tied the record against UC Santa Barbara, then broke it against James Madison and added to her record with a save against Cal Poly. Pridmore now has 10 saves in her three-year career. The previous record of eight was held by Carol Forbes. In addition, Pridmore’s three season saves this season is tied for fourth-best in the San Jose State single-season record books.
FOUR NO-HITTERS THROWN IN THE WAC THIS SEASON
There have been four no-hitters thrown in the WAC so far this season and three have come from the Fresno State pitching staff. The first was by senior pitcher Mackenzie Oakes on Feb. 19, when she threw her third career no-hitter in an 8-0, six-inning victory over Cal State Fullerton. The next two no-hitters, on Feb. 23 against Iowa State and March 3 vs. State Joseph’s, were by senior Michelle Moses. They were Moses’ second and third no-hitters of her career. In the 3-0 win over Iowa State, Moses struck out 17 batters and that was one off of the school record that she set herself in 2010. The final no-hitter was thrown by Hawai‘i’s Kaia Parnaby on March 14, when she fired her second career no-no with a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Marist.
RICKETTS NAMED LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD CANDIDATE
Hawai‘i pitcher Stephanie Ricketts is one of the 30 student-athletes selected as candidates for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The two-time reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year was named an Easton All-American last season and is Hawai‘i’s all-time strikeout leader. A three-time All-West Region honoree, she has been named an NFCA Scholar-Athlete and Academic all-WAC three times.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot.
UH’S IWATA NAMED TO PRESEASON PLAYER OF YEAR WATCH LIST
Hawai’i shortstop Jessica Iwata was one of 50 student-athletes selected to the watch list for the 11th annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. A two-time WAC Player of the Year, she led the Rainbow Wahine last season with a .355 batting average, a .663 slugging percentage and a .447 on-base percentage.
Iwata is just the fourth Rainbow Wahine to ever be selected to the “Top 50 Watch List.” Last season, Melissa Gonzalez and Kelly Majam were chosen to the list, while Kate Robinson made the list in 2008.
The 2012 Watch List is comprised of 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores representing 31 universities and 13 conferences. The Top 25 finalists will be announced April 11, the Top 10 will be announced May 9 and the Top 3 will be announced May 23. The winner will be announced May 29.
NEW MEXICO STATE TO HOST 2012 TOURNAMENT
New Mexico State will host the 2012 WAC Softball Tournament May 9-12 at the NM State Softball Complex. The top six teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament. It is the second time the Aggies have hosted the event, as they did so in 2010, as well.
Top-seeded New Mexico State shut out No. 3-seed Fresno State 5-0 to claim its first-ever WAC Tournament title last season in Fresno.
FRESNO STATE PICKED TO WIN 2012 WAC TITLE
The WAC softball coaches selected Fresno State to win the 2012 WAC regular-season crown. It was the 14th time in the last 17 years that the Bulldogs were the preseason favorite to win the title. Fresno State had 44 points and three first-place votes, just ahead of Hawai‘i with two first-place votes and 42 points. New Mexico State was third with 37 points and two first-place votes. Brigham Young received the other first-place vote and came in fourth place with 35 points. Nevada, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Utah State rounded out the poll.
PRESEASON ALL-WAC/RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
The preseason all-WAC team is composed of the returning all-conference players from last season. Hawai’i placed the most players on the team with four, while Fresno State and New Mexico State had three apiece.
The WAC features nine players who were first team all-conference performers last year. Three come from New Mexico State - Teresa Conrad, Tiare Jennings and reigning WAC Freshman of the Year Valerie Swedberg. Brigham Young returns Carly Duckworth and Jessica Dugas, both of whom were named to the all-Mountain West team last season. Fresno State returns two players (Michelle Moses and Andrea Ortega), while Hawai‘i returns reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Ricketts and reigning WAC Player of the Year Jessica Iwata.
Second team returnees include: Alex Aguirre, Hawai‘i; Janna Frandrup, Louisiana Tech; Erin Jones, Nevada; Allison Lenzora, Utah State; Kelly Majam, Hawai‘i; Brooke Ortiz, Fresno State; and Kassy Uchida, Utah State.