SAN BRUNO, Calif.- The West Coast Conference softball champion Brigham Young Cougars claimed three major individual player awards, San Diego earned its second consecutive Freshman of the Year award and three program leaders were named Co-Coach of the Year in the 2016 All-WCC awards announced by the conference office Tuesday.
All five major awards - along with the All-West Coast Conference Teams - were voted on by the league's six head coaches. A total of 22 student-athletes make up the first and second teams, including eight outfielders by position, seven infielders, four pitchers and three catchers.
BYU’s junior trio of Ashley Thompson, McKenna Bull and Lauren Bell were named the WCC Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. San Diego’s Lauren Kane was selected as the Freshman of the Year. The league’s coaches also voted on a three-way tie for Coach of the Year honors with Gordon Eakin of BYU, Melissa McElvain of San Diego and Sami Strinz-Ward of Loyola Marymount all earning the honor.
Thompson is the second Cougar to earn the WCC’s top honor after teammate Gordy Bravo was selected last year. In league contests, Thompson led the league this season in RBI (22), home runs (7), triples (1) and total bases (50) while finishing second in hits (24) and runs scored (16) and fourth in batting average at .471. Thompson started all 53 games for BYU this season and finished the year ranked 38th nationally in slugging percentage at .758.
Bull repeats as the WCC Pitcher of the Year after another impressive year in the circle for the Cougars, going 26-11 with a 2.36 ERA. In conference, play, Bull was 9-1 with one save while posting a 1.96 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 71.1 innings pitched. With her league-leading 10 shutouts on the year, Bull moved her career number to 21 to set a new program record in addition to becoming the BYU record-holder for career saves at 11. Bull, who finished fifth nationally in shutouts (10), seventh in total strikeouts (276) and ninth in victories (26), pitched her first career no-hitter in the season opener against San Jose State. She then matched the feat against UC Santa Barbara. For the third consecutive season, Bull set a strikeout record with her 276 becoming the new standard in Provo. She is now the WCC’s all-time leader in number of Pitcher of the Week awards after adding an additional six to her tally this season.
Kane is the second consecutive newcomer from San Diego to be named the Freshman of the Year after Kailey Hill took home the award last season. The freshman third baseman led all WCC freshmen with a .286 batting average in conference play. She added 15 RBI, 10 runs scored and four home runs for the Toreros in WCC play. Over all games played, Kane led the Toreros with nine home runs and 40 RBI while finishing second on the team with 32 runs scored in 51 total games played.
Bell is the first Cougar to earn WCC Defensive Player of the Year. The junior shortstop has 36 assists and 31 putouts with a fielding percentage of .985 in conference play, committing only one error against conference foes. At the plate, Bell holds a .308 average and led the league with 17 runs scored. On the season as a whole, she ranked in the WCC top five in runs scored (41, 2nd) and hits (60, 4th).
The coaching trio of Eakin, Strinz-Ward and McElvain were selected in a vote of their peers as the Co-Coaches of the Year after leading their programs to first, second and third in the standings, respectively. Eakin has won at least a share of the honor in each of the three seasons that the WCC has sponsored softball after leading the BYU to their third consecutive WCC regular season title with a 12-3 mark and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Strinz-Ward earns the honor in her first season as the head coach at Loyola Marymount with a program-best 10 conference wins to go with the first 30-win season at LMU since 2013. McElvain’s Toreros were picked to finish fourth in the preseason standings, but the 15th-year coach led San Diego to an 8-7 WCC record and had her team in position to win the WCC title heading into the final weekend of the season.
A complete list of All-WCC performers and major postseason award winners can be found below.
2016 West Coast Conference Softball Individual Honors
Player of the Year: Ashley Thompson, BYU
Pitcher of the Year: McKenna Bull, BYU
Freshman of the Year: Lauren Kane, San Diego
Defensive Player of the Year: Lauren Bell, ByU
Coach of the Year: Gordon Eakin, BYU; Melissa McElvain, San Diego; Sami Strinz-Ward, Loyola Marymount
|Chiara Biagini||SR||OF||Santa Clara|
|Mary Grabowski||SR||C||San Diego|
|Alex Finie||JR||1B||Loyola Marymount|
|Katie Moss||JR||P||Saint Mary's|
|Megan Sabbatini||JR||P||San Diego|
|Tatum Schultz||SR||2B||San Diego|
|Meghan von Behren||SR||OF||Loyola Marymount|
All-West Coast Conference Softball Second Team
|Hannah Bandimere||FR||P||Loyola Marymount|
|Alicia Brown||SO||3B||Loyola Marymount|
|Amanda Dirks||JR||OF||Loyola Marymount|
|Lauren Kane||FR||3B||San Diego|
|Olivia Sandusky||JR||OF||San Diego|
|Taylor Spence||FR||OF||San Diego|
All-West Coast Conference Honorable Mention
Stephanie Crist, Loyola Marymount; Rachel Farrington, Loyola Marymount; Lollie Fitzpatrick, Ssaint Mary’s; Justine Garner, Santa Clara; Melanie Habib, Pacific; Andrea Hazel, Saint Mary’s; Erica Musgrave, Saint Mary’s; Lujane Mussadi, Saint Mary’s; Monika Reichardt, Saint Mary’s; Nicole Zapotoczny, Pacific