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This Week in WAC Softball - Feb. 12

This Week in WAC Softball - Feb. 12

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Utah Valley Peyton Angulo and NM State's Samaria Diaz have been named the Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for Feb. 4-10. This is the first-ever honor for both.

Angulo, a sophomore utility from Upland, Calf., had an impressive opening weekend to the 2019 season by hitting a stellar .706 (12-for-17) with four doubles, four RBIs and eight runs scored. She also added three walks, two stolen bases and 16 total bases as the Wolverines went 3-2 at UNLV's Marucci Desert Classic. She compiled a perfect 4-for-4 outing in a win over Seton Hall, a 3-for-3 outing in another win over in-state rival Southern Utah, and then capped the weekend with a 4-for-5 performance in a tightly contested setback to No. 25 Long Beach State. During the stretch, Angulo delivered nine consecutive hits in nine straight at-bats to finish four shy of tying the NCAA Division I record.

Diaz, a junior right-hander from West Covina, Calif., opened the 2019 campaign with a pair of wins and a save, helping the Aggies to a 4-0 opening weekend. She posted a 0.88 ERA and 12 strikeouts, only allowing just one run on four hits over 8.0 innings. Diaz opened the season by striking out three out of the four batters she faced against New Mexico on her way to a save. Against UTEP, she pitched 3.1 innings in relief, allowing just two hits and striking out five. She allowed two hits and surrendered her only earned run against Creighton, when she also had four strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched. Diaz held opponents to a .133 batting average over her three appearances

Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: Brittany Galvez of California Baptist hit .312 with a pair of walks ... CSU Bakersfield's Paige Johnson hit .417 with two RBIs and three stolen bases ... Kaileigh Holland of Grand Canyon hit .583 with one home run and six RBIs ... Kansas City's Lia Lombardini hit .400 with a double, a home run and five RBIs ... Victoria Castro of NM State hit .429 with three homers, eight walks and five RBIs ... Seattle U's Ally Choate hit .667 with a double, a triple, three RBIs and a stolen base.

Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: Kellye Springstead of California Baptist led the WAC with 21 strikeouts over 20.0 innings pitched ... CSU Bakersfield's Kiara Azevedo went 3-1 with a 5.44 ERA and eight strikeouts ... Alexa Coons of Grand Canyon went 1-1 with a 0.00 ERA 13 strikeouts ... Kansas City's Mia Hoveland went 2-1 with a 1.62 ERA and five strikeouts.

With his team's 11-3 six-inning victory over Seton Hall on Feb. 9, Utah Valley head coach  TJ Hubbard picked up his 200th career victory. In his ninth season as a head coach, Hubbard boasts a 201-218-1 (.480) career record. He is 40-57 (.412) in three seasons at Utah Valley.

CSU Bakersfield head coach Crissy Buck-Ziegler earned her 100th career victory on Sunday, Feb. 10 when the 'Runners defeated Montana 3-2. In her eighth season at the helm, Buck-Ziegler is 101-244-1 (.293).

In a preseason vote of the seven WAC softball coaches, who could not vote for their own team, NM State was selected as the preseason favorite to win the title.

The Aggies took the top spot in the preseason poll with 35 points and five first-place votes, while Grand Canyon was just behind in second with 32 points and the other two first-place votes. Seattle U was selected to finish in third place with 25 points, just ahead of Utah Valley in fourth place with 21 points. League newcomer California Baptist and Kansas City tied for fifth place with 13 points, while CSU Bakersfield (8) rounded out the poll.

NM State sophomore first baseman Kelsey Horton was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year and teammate Kayla Green was selected as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in a vote of the league's seven head coaches, who could not vote for their own players.

NM State and Seattle U placed the most players on the Preseason All-WAC team with four, while Grand Canyon had three.

Joining Horton and Green on the Preseason All-WAC Team were Brianna Aguilar, Shea Smith and Sierra Smith of Grand Canyon; Peyton Angulo and Lyndsay Steverson of Utah Valley; Nikki Butler and Victoria Castro of NM State; and Madison Cathcart, Ally Choate, Andie Larkins and Carley Nance of Seattle U.

Seattle U's Madison Cathcart and NM State's Kelsey Horton were among the 50 players on the USA Softball Preseason Player of the Year Watch List. The WAC was one of seven conferences to have multiple players honored, joining the ACC and Big South with two players recognized. A total of 14 conferences and 35 schools were represented.

Cathcart posted a monster 2018, leading the WAC in batting average (.444), on-base percentage (.596) and slugging percentage (.954). The first baseman became the first SU player to be chosen National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region. She was named first team All-WAC and to the All-Tournament Team at the WAC Tournament. Cathcart set eight single-season school records, including 19 home runs, 20 doubles and 53 walks. She ranked in the top 10 nationally in six statistical categories.

Horton comes into her senior season after setting the NM State program record for home runs (25) and total bases (154) for a single season. Individually, she ranked in the top 25 nationally in several statistical categories in 2018, ranking second in homers and home runs per game (0.47), third in RBIs per game (1.21) and total bases, seventh in slugging percentage (.911) and 22nd in runs per game (0.98). Horton was also named the WAC Player of the Year for a second-straight season and was named MVP of the WAC Tournament.

The Top 25 Finalists for the 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 24. While an athlete does not have to be on the Watch List to be considered for the Top 25, the eventual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will come from the Top 25 Finalists. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced May 8 and the Top 3 announced May 22. The 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28.

Of the 13 first team All-WAC players from last year, eight return for the 2019 season, including NM State's Nikki Butler, Kayla Green and Kelsey Horton, Seattle U's Madison Cathcart, Ally Choate and Andie Larkins, and Utah Valley's Peyton Angulo and Lyndsay Steverson.

Eight of the second team All-WAC selections return for 2019, including three from Seattle U (Carley Nance, Kaylee Ree and Bailey Thompson). Also returning are Grand Canyon's Brianna Aguilar and Yesenia Morrison, CSU Bakersfield's Paige Johnson, NM State's Victoria Castro and Utah Valley's and Brianna Moeller.

Grand Canyon will host the 2019 WAC Softball Tournament. All six eligible teams will advance to the double-elimination tournament, which will be held at the GCU Softball Stadium May 8-11. This is the first time the Lopes have hosted the event.