Eight New Mexico State softball players were selected as part of the All-WAC teams for the 2014 season. Lacey Rother was named WAC Player of the Year and first team All-WAC. Fiana Finau and Alyssa Ruiz also received first team All-WAC honors, while Emma Adams, Makayla McAdams, Brennalyn Nakamura, Staci Rodriguez and Celisha Walker were selected as part of the second team all-conference.
“I am proud of our team and all of the individual recognition we have received from the league this year,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “I am confident, though, that each student-athlete would trade that individual recognition for a team conference championship.”
This is the second year in a row that an Aggie player has earned the WAC Player of the Year award and the most All-WAC honorees for the program since joining the WAC.
Leading the team from the plate in WAC play, Rother, a junior from Long Beach, Calif., posted a team leading .462 batting average and a .872 slugging percentage. In 39 at bats, Rother recorded 18 hits, 17 RBI and eight extra base hits, four of which were home runs. She also earned 11 walks and had an on base percentage of .588. Rother leads the WAC in several categories including batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, walks and walks per game (0.83). She is second in WAC play in RBI (17) and RBI per game (1.21), as well as sixth in hits per game (1.29), seventh in doubles per game (0.33), third in home runs per game (0.29), third in total home runs and fifth in total hits. On the season, Rother had a .391 batting average, recording 45 hits and 36 RBI in 115 at bats. With a season slugging percentage of .678, she recorded eight home runs and nine doubles for 78 total bases. With only one error on the season, Rother recorded a fielding percentage of .971.
“Lacey wants to be great and she has worked very hard this year to be clutch for us,” Rodolph said. “Throughout WAC play she had great patience, power and consistency. I am proud of her effort and happy she has earned this recognition from the league.”
Finau, a sophomore from Chula Vista, Calif., recorded a batting average of .455 in 14 games started during WAC play. Playing as the designated player and at first base, Finau recorded a team-high 20 hits in 44 at bats. With three doubles and two home runs, she earned 29 total bases for a slugging percentage of .659. With only one error in WAC play, Finau recorded a fielding percentage of .938. Finau ranked in the top 10 in ten categories. Leading the WAC in hits per game (1.50), Finau ranked second in batting average (.455), on base percentage (.519), and third in RBIs (13), RBI per game (.93) and total hits (29). She also ranked in runs scored per game (0.86), total bases, runs scored (12), and slugging percentage. Overall, Finau had a .393 batting average, recording a team-leading 57 hits and 44 RBI in 145 at bats. With 103 total bases, Finau hit a team leading 13 home runs and seven doubles for a slugging percentage of .710.
“Fiana has done a remarkable job for us this spring with both consistency and power,” Rodolph said. “I think she is deserving of this honor and I look forward to watching her finish strong.”
Playing catcher for the Aggies, Ruiz, a senior from Temecula, Calif., recorded a .423 batting average and a .615 slugging percentage in WAC play. In 26 at bats, Ruiz recorded 11 hits and eight RBI, with 16 total bases earned and an on base percentage of .423. With only one error, Ruiz earned a .971 fielding percentage, recording 30 putouts and four assists. Ruiz ranked fourth in the WAC in batting average and tenth in slugging percentage. She also ranked fourth in RBI per game (0.89). During the season, Ruiz had an overall batting average of .324, recording 23 hits and 17 RBI in 71 at bats. With a slugging percentage of .563, Ruiz earned 40 total bases, walking four times as well.
“Alyssa has always been a consistent catcher for us so it is great to see her rewarded for her work as a hitter also,” Rodolph said. “She has done well this year and I know she is ready to battle for another WAC title.”
Sophomore second baseman Brennalyn Nakamura, from Lahaina, Hawai’i, has started in all 14 WAC games in 2014. She recorded a .333 batting average and a slugging percentage of .667, placing her fifth against WAC opponents for WAC games only. Nakamura had a total of 11 runs batted in and 15 hits in conference play. With three homeruns in WAC games, Nakamura is fifth against WAC opponents. Nakamura is tied for fourth averaging 0.93 runs per game and sits tied for fifth averaging 0.21 home runs per game. Overall, Nakamura has a .320 batting average, appearing 45 times during the season. Nakamura has recorded 20 RBI with 40 total hits and is slugging at .488 percent.
“Brennalyn has really grown throughout the whole year and has locked down second base for us,” Rodolph said. “Her competitive spirit and will make her a big asset to our team so I'm happy she was recognized by the league.”
Sophomore infielder Emma Adams, from Corrales, N.M., has started in all of the 14 WAC games NM State has played during the 2014 season. Mainly seen as the Aggies third baseman, Adams has a .357 batting average and a slugging percentage of .500. Adams added nine runs batted in and 15 total hits in her 42 at bats. With 14 runs scored during WAC games, Adams is tied for second against WAC opponents. Overall, Adams has started in all 50 competitions for NM State. She recorded a .344 batting average placing her in the top 5 for the team. She added 29 runs and 45 hits to her overall season totals and is slugging at .427 percent. Adams has recorded 61 putouts placing her at a .917 fielding percentage. Adams was a second team All-WAC pick in 2013.
“Emma has been a mainstay at third base for us as a freshman and a sophomore” Rodolph said. “She has stepped up her offense in WAC play and that will be a big help in Seattle.”
With a .333 batting average, junior Aggie outfielder Staci Rodriguez, from Paramount, Calif., recorded 14 hits and six RBI in 42 at bats in conference play. With three doubles and one homerun, Rodriguez recorded a slugging percentage of .476. With no errors in the WAC, Rodriguez is the only regular starter with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Rodriguez led the WAC in runs scored with 18 as well as runs scored per game with 1.08. She was also tied for seventh in plate appearances per game with 3.75. Rodriguez led the Aggies in batting overall, with a .402 batting average and a .780 slugging percentage. In 132 at bats Rodriguez recorded 53 hits, 41 RBI and a team-high 13 homeruns. Rodriguez also recorded a team-high 37 walks. Rodriguez was the 2013 WAC Player of the Year and a first team All-WAC selection.
“Staci is one of the top athletes in this league,” Rodolph said. “She has been a great leader for us on both sides of the ball. No doubt she will continue to be our leader down the stretch.”
Senior pitcher Celisha Walker, from Santa Monica, Calif., has pitched 27.2 total innings for the Aggies in nine appearances during conference play. She has a 3-1 record, with a 1.52 ERA in the WAC. Holding her opponents to a .294 batting average, Walker sits at No. 9 against WAC opponents. She has struck out 16 total batters and is credited with one save in WAC play. Overall, Walker recorded three saves on the season and has seen the second most strikeouts in the circle with 60 and an ERA of 3.33. Walker has an 8-6 record holding her opponents to a .312 batting average.
“As a senior, Celisha wants to go out with a WAC title,” Rodolph said. “Her consistency in the circle has been great to count on this year and her poise will be key to the rest of our season.”
Right-handed pitcher Makayla McAdams, from Tucson, Ariz., recorded three wins in WAC play placing her tied for fourth in the WAC. With a 1.95 ERA, McAdams is seventh with 32.1 innings pitched. During conference play, McAdams recorded nine strikeouts holding her opponents to a .220 batting average, which is second in the WAC. She records a .857 stolen base attempt for fielding percentage contributing 11 assists to conference play. Overall, McAdams has an 11-5 record with 37 strikeouts on the season, with a 3.81 ERA. In 99.1 innings pitched, McAdams has given up 70 runs holding her opponents to a .259 batting average. She has one putout on the season and has added 31 assists to the Aggies overall season.
“Makayla's pitching has been consistent during her sophomore campaign and it's great to see her step up into a bigger role this year,” Rodolph said.
The Aggies are the No. 1 seed in the 2014 WAC Softball Tournament, May 8-10. NM State will face the winner of No. 4 Utah Valley and No. 5 Bakersfield on Thursday, May 8, at 5 p.m., in Seattle, Wash.