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West Texas A&M’s Sipe, Florida Tech’s Pence Receive Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Honors
COLUMBUS, Ga. – Jessica Sipe of No. 1 West Texas A&M and Rachel Pence of No. 18 Florida Tech have been selected as the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Player and Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 26th, respectively.
The reigning Lone Star Conference Hitter of the Week, Sipe powered the offense of the top-rated Lady Buffs last week as the squad continued its best-ever start to a season at a perfect 17-0. The senior third baseman batted .714 overall (10-for-14) with four walks, three doubles, a triple, three HR’s and 11 RBIs while also reaching base successfully in 15 of her 19 total plate appearances. The Phoenix, Ariz., native slugged at a ridiculous 1.714 clip and registered a .750 on-base percentage while also plating seven total runs. She may have been at her best during a doubleheader sweep of Oklahoma Christian, going 3-for-4 combined with a double, a triple, a HR and four RBIs while also being walked on four occasions. For the year Sipe is batting .545 overall with 13 extra-base hits, including six HR’s, 20 RBIs and a team-best 1.159 slugging mark.
“We’ve started out the season really strong in all three components of the game, and that has helped me create habits of being in a special kind of flow and having the mindset of making things happen at the plate,” Sipe said. “Our entire team comes to the field every day with the goal of playing WT Softball and controlling the speed of the game no matter who is in the other dugout. It’s an honor being recognized by the NFCA, especially knowing the high level of talent across the country.”
“Jessica has had a great season, last week was just an extension of that start,” West Texas A&M head coach Kevin Blaskowski said. “She had a very good junior year and made some adjustments to her swing, and she is really comfortable at the plate right now. She is seeing the ball very well, and her patience at the plate has been great.”
A freshman hurler from Jacksonville, Fla., Pence has wasted little time making her presence felt nationally during her inaugural campaign for the Panthers. The 5-5 right hander and current Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week was 2-0 last week with a 0.00 ERA and nine strikeouts over 14 innings while twirling a pair of complete-game shutouts over then-No. 7 Tampa. During the series opener against the highly-rated Spartans, Pence required just 68 pitches in tossing a three-hitter as FIT prevailed in a nailbiter, 1-0. Following a one-out relief appearance in the second game of the high-profile series, Pence returned in the finale to strikeout nine as Florida Tech nabbed a series victory via a 2-0 triumph. Thus far this season, she possesses a 7-1 overall record, a 1.22 ERA and 43 K’s over 57.1 innings of work, while having recorded a perfect game and two three-hitters.
“I feel so blessed to be recognized,” Pence said. “I’m also humbled by the award because I’m just a freshman. I didn’t know what to expect coming in. I just knew how to work hard, and I knew I had to do what I could for my team. That’s all I feel like I’m doing is helping my team win ballgames.”
“I’m really proud of Rachel for winning Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Pitcher of the Week,” Florida Tech head coach Val Silvestrini said. “She’s deserving of the honor and she has pitched really well against top-10 ranked teams. The defense has played a large role in her success. This award is a credit to them as well.”
Other Selected Top Performances
Metro State’s Mary Towner led her team to a 3-1 series win at Colorado Mesa by hitting .588 (10-for-17) with two doubles and seven RBIs on the way to RMAC Player of the Week honors…USC Aiken’s India Kornegay was 4-0 overall with a 1.64 ERA, three complete games, two shutouts and 58 K’s over 25 innings while firing a perfect game in a win over Paine…Laura Benavidez of St. Mary’s (TX) batted .409 (9-for-22) with a double, a HR and 15 RBIs while hitting safely in seven total games against Tarleton State, Western Oregon, Midwestern State, Central Oklahoma and Eastern New Mexico…Emily Brittain of St. Mary’s (TX) was as impressive as her teammate, going 4-0 from the circle with a 0.72 ERA, a save, four complete games, three shutouts and nine strikeouts over 29 innings…Briana Lee of Wayne State (MI) was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, one shutout and 25 K’s over 15 frames of work while limiting Upper Iowa and Wisconsin-Parkside to a combined .100 batting average…West Georgia’s Nicole Yancey, the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week, batted at a .444 clip (8-for-18) with two doubles, five HR’s and 13 RBIs…GLVC Pitcher of the Week Truman State’s Kindra Henze was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, two complete-game blankings and 16 strikeouts as TSU beat Union (Tenn.) and Walsh…Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week Florida Southern’s Priscilla Gonzalez batted 10-for-13 (.769) with three runs scored and four RBIs…West Texas A&M’s Hannah Newcomb, the Lone Star Conference Pitcher of the Week, posted a 3-0 record with a 0.00 ERA, three complete-game shutouts and permitted the opposition to hit at just a .119 clip…East Central’s Leah Tigert, the GAC Softball Player of the Week, batted .688 with two doubles, a triple, a HR and five RBIs while slugging 1.125…Sonoma State’s Megan Koniecka hit .722 (13-for-18) with three two-baggers, a triple, a HR, five stolen bases and 10 RBIs while hitting safely in all six combined games against the Academy of Art and Cal State San Bernardino…CCAA Player of the Week Cal State Dominguez Hills’ Catherine Brown batted .667 (8-for-12) with four doubles, one big fly and eight RBIs over four match-ups against San Francisco State…King College’s Chrissy Melcher batted .563 (18-for-32) with four doubles, a triple and seven RBIs, including a 3-for-5, two-double, two-RBI effort against then-No. 23 Kutztown.
2014 Louisville Slugger Division II National Player of the Week
Feb. 19 – Darian Dunn – Angelo State – So. – IF/OF – Frisco, Texas
Feb. 26 – Jessica Sipe – West Texas A&M – Sr. – 3B – Phoenix, Ariz.
2014 Louisville Slugger Division II National Pitcher of the Week
Feb. 19 – Lyndsay Butler – Wayne State Univ. – R-Fr. – P – Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Feb. 26 – Rachel Pence – Florida Tech – Fr. – P – Jacksonville, Fla.