GCU'S SMITH, UMKC'S PACKARD NAMED WAC ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Grand Canyon's Shea Smith and Kansas City's Kailyn Packard have been named the Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, for Feb. 18-24. This is the first honor of the season and fourth of her career for Smith and the first-ever honor for Packard.
Smith, a senior shortstop from Waddell, Ariz., hit .583 (7-for-12) with an .833 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage as the Lopes went 3-1 last week. She had a hit in all four games with a double, a triple, five RBIs and one stolen base. Smith opened the week with a 2-for-2 outing against Michigan State, with a double, two runs scored, one RBI and a walk. In an 8-2 win over North Dakota later in the day, she tallied three RBIs and a stolen base. Smith closed out the weekend with a 3-for-3 performance against Yale, posting her first triple of the year and driving in one run.
Packard, a freshman right-hander from Beloit, Wis., went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three appearances last week. She struck out 20 batters over 12.2 innings, allowing just two hits. Packard opened the week with a start against Howard, striking out four over 3.0 innings and giving up just one hit. The following day, she threw the first no-hitter in the WAC since March 10, 2017, as Kansas City extended its win streak to nine games with a 7-0 win over Grambling State. Packard tossed all seven innings for the Roos, allowing no hits, while striking out 10. In 2.2 innings of relief on Sunday, she gave up one hit and struck out six batters. Packard leads the WAC in ERA (0.37), opponent batting average (.147) and strikeouts (39).
Other Hitter of the Week nominees included: California Baptist's Halle Rosario hit .533 with one double, one home run and three RBIs ... Cydney Curran of CSU Bakersfield hit .357 with four triples and one RBI ... Kansas City's Sydney Garcia hit .400 with three doubles, one homer and six RBIs ... Mya Felder of NM State hit .214 with one double, one homer, three RBIs and one stolen base ... Seattle U's Olivia Viggiano hit .526 with two RBIs, three stolen bases and five multi-hit games.
Other Pitcher of the Week nominees included: California Baptist's Giana Lopes went 0-2 with a 2.10 ERA and five strikeouts ... Ryan Denhart of Grand Canyon went 1-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 14 strikeouts ... NM State's Samaria Diaz of went 1-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 15.2 innings ... Carley Nance of Seattle U went 2-1 with a 0.41 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 17.0 innings.
CSUB'S CURRAN SETS PROGRAM SINGLE-GAME RECORD FOR TRIPLES
On Feb. 22 against Santa Clara, CSU Bakersfield junior Cydney Curran hit two triples setting a CSUB Division I single-game record. Curran already has five triples this season, which ranks her first in the nation and ties CSU Bakersfield's Division I single-season record (Karissa Veiga, 2014).
KANSAS CITY'S PACKARD THROWS FIRST NO-HITTER IN WAC SINCE 2017
On Feb. 23, Kansas City freshman right-hander Kailyn Packard threw a no-hitter in a 7-0 win over Grambling State at the Black and Gold Tournament in Montgomery, Ala. Packard tossed all seven innings for the Roos, allowing no hits, while striking out 10. It was the first no-hitter thrown in the WAC since Seattle U's Alyssa Reuble threw a perfect game on March 10, 2017.
THREE PLAYERS RANK IN WAC CAREER TOP 10
NM State senior Kelsey Horton currently holds the all-time WAC record for career slugging percentage (.774), ranks fourth in home runs (58), seventh in RBIs (179), tied for seventh in total bases (435) and tied for eighth in batting average (.390). Seattle U junior Madison Cathcart ranks eighth in slugging percentage (.706), while Grand Canyon senior Sierra Smith is tied for 10th in triples (12).
UVU'S HUBBARD PICKS UP 200TH CAREER VICTORY
With his team's 11-3 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 201-223-1 (.474) career record. He is 40-62 (.392) in three seasons at Utah Valley.
CSUB'S BUCK-ZIEGLER EARNS 100TH CAREER WIN
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 103-250-1 (.292).
NM STATE'S HORTON APPROACHING PROGRAM RECORDS
Kelsey Horton continues to climb the NM State career record books. The senior sits in second for home runs (58), third in total bases (435) and fourth in both runs scored (173) and RBIs (179).
NM STATE PICKED TO WIN 2019 WAC TITLE
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.
PRESEASON ALL-WAC TEAM
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.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
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 TO HOST 2019 WAC TOURNAMENT
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.
CATHCART, HORTON NAMED TO USA SOFTBALL WATCH LIST
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.