Willamette is Ranked #24 in NCAA Division III Poll

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University softball team is ranked #24 in the nation in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Poll for NCAA Division III released on April 23. The Bearcats are 23-7 on the season, including 17-5 in the Northwest Conference.

Willamette is among the national leaders on offense. WU leads Division III in home runs per game at 1.37 (41 in 30 games). The 'Cats are third in stolen bases per game (2.97) and are fourth in team slugging percentage at .581.

Individually, Nikki Franchi (Jr., RHP/DP) is third in the nation in batting average at .552 (53 of 96). She also is third in on-base percentage at 0.609 and is fifth in slugging percentage at 1.010. As a pitcher, she ranks fifth in strikeouts per seven innings pitched at 10.3 (176 in 119 2/3 innings) and is eighth in victories with a 17-2 record.

Liz Gilgan (Sr., SS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) is listed fourth in runs per game at 1.47, after scoring a school record 44 runs in Willamette's 30 games so far this season. Gilgan also ranks ninth in stolen bases per game with 0.8 per contest (24 in 30 games).

Head Coach Damian Williams and the Bearcats will play a key Northwest Conference home-and-home series this weekend against #3 ranked Linfield College, the defending Division III national champion. Linfield is 32-2 overall, 21-1 in the NWC.

The Bearcats will play two games against the Wildcats in McMinnville, Ore., on Saturday, April 26, starting at 12 p.m. (PDT). The series will move to the Willamette University Softball Field in Salem, Ore., on Sunday, April 27, with two more games set to start at 12 p.m. (PDT).

Marissa Richards (top left) and Nikki Franchi (right) have helped the Bearcats earn a 23-7 record so far this season.

Marissa Richards (top left) and Nikki Franchi (right) have helped the Bearcats earn a 23-7 record so far this season.