Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2015 All-Mountain West Conference awards announced

2015 conference softball champion Fresno State placed a league-high seven players on the All-Mountain West teams that were announced Tuesday.

The Bulldogs took three of the top five overall awards as junior Jill Compton earned Pitcher of the Year honors, junior catcher Paige Gumz was named Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Trisha Ford was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year.  Fresno State, which also received votes in both major polls today, will enter the NCAA Tournament Thursday riding the country's third-longest winning streak at 11 straight games.

San Diego State earned two top honors as senior Lorena Bauer was named Player of the Year, while catcher Jenavee Peres was named Freshman of the Year.  The Aztecs will enter NCAA Tournament play Friday riding a season-high 6-game winning streak.

For the complete list of honorees go here.

Fresno State's total of seven all-conference honorees leads the Mountain West.  The Bulldogs had two first team picks in Compton and Brenna Moss, both of whom were named to the first team for the third straight season.  UNLV's Emily Haslinger, a second-team selection, was the only other player to earn All-MW recognition for a third consecutive year.  San Jose State had five players selected, while San Diego State and Utah State had four each, UNLV three, a trio of teams (New Mexico, Nevada and Boise State) two, and Colorado State one.

It's probably not too soon to look ahead to next year.  Fresno State is expected to return a league-high five All-MW players (including the Pitcher and Defensive Player of the Year in Compton and Gumz), while Utah State should return three and SDSU two.  No other MW team will return more than one 2015 honoree next season.

As always, there were a few noticeable snubs and omissions.  Most notably, New Mexico -- which finished in fourth place and won 13 conference games for its best finish in Mountain West play in 15 years -- had just one first-team and one second-team player.  UNM's Jasmine Casados, a .386 hitter for the season with 56 hits (including six homers) and 40 RBI, was the only player in the league to play at least 30 games and finish in the top 15 in overall batting average, but not earn all-league honors.  Casados' batting average in conference play was higher than some other honorees.

Fresno State's Kierra Willis, twice a MW Player of the Week this season, including as recently as last week, was a second-team pick.  She is the only player in the conference to win a weekly honor twice this season, but find her name on the second team rather than the first team.  Willis led the Mountain West champion Bulldogs in RBI (55), triples (9) and home runs (8).  Her RBI total ranked third in the conference, while she led the MW in triples.  Her nine triples tied her for second in the nation with SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Stewart.

Some other notable omissions:  San Jose State pitcher Madison Fish (16-5, 3.64 ERA, 88 strikeouts), New Mexico pitcher Krissy Fortner (9-5 with a 2.85 ERA that ranked 4th in the conference and 5 saves that ranked 12th in the nation), New Mexico pitcher Lauren Soles (10-5, 3.45 ERA and coming off a complete-game shutout that eliminated San Jose State from the conference race), and Fresno State third baseman Alyssa Villalpando (.358 batting average, and went 10-for-13 in last weekend's title-clinching series at UNLV).  In addition, Gumz was deemed to be the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, yet was inexplicably left off both the first- and second-team lists. We probably should have learned our lesson last year when standout UNLV pitcher Amanda Oliveto was somehow left off the All-MW team despite being one of the main reasons the Rebels were even in contention for the title during the final week.