Four Willamette Softball Players are Named First Team All-NWC

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Four members of the Willamette University softball team have been chosen First Team All-Northwest Conference for the 2009 season, in voting by the NWC head coaches. Three additional Bearcats were named Second Team All-NWC following Willamette's successful 29-6 season. Willamette, ranked #21 in NCAA Division III, finished second in the NWC with a 22-6 conference record.

Willamette's First Team All-NWC selections were senior pitcher/designated hitter Nikki Franchi (RHP/DP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS), senior center fielder LaShawna Holcomb (Renton, WA/Hazen HS), freshman shortstop Mica Romero (Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian HS) and freshman pitcher Alex Watilo (RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS).

Bearcats chosen Second Team All-NWC were junior catcher Nicole Wallace (Roseville, CA/Roseville HS), freshman third baseman Suzannah Von Trapp (Salem, OR/South Salem HS) and freshman outfielder Sierra Lessel (Eugene, OR/Winston Churchill HS)

First Team All-NWC

Nikki Franchi (Sr., RHP/DP) was named First Team All-Conference as a utility/designated player. She started all 35 games and batted .380 on offense, with 25 runs and 29 RBIs. She hit 10 doubles, one triple and four home runs. As a pitcher, she achieved a 16-3 record and a 0.95 earned run average. She struck out 164 batters in 121 2/3 innings pitched. She limited opponents to a .153 batting average. In 20 appearances, she gave up just 17 earned runs and tossed nine complete-game shutouts, including two no-hitters. She threw a one-hitter and blasted a two-run homer in a 2-0 win over Linfield College.

Franchi owns a career batting average of .423, with 150 hits, 93 runs scored and 112 RBIs in 126 games played. She hit 36 doubles, seven triples and 18 home runs the past four years. She earned a .715 career slugging percentage and a .499 on-base percentage. She was 25 of 29 on stolen bases.

In the circle, she attained a 50-19 record (.725) with a 2.06 career ERA. She registered a total of 565 strikeouts and had 18 solo shutouts and four combined shutouts for the Bearcats. She pitched 462 1/3 innings during her career.

She set numerous Willamette records. She holds or is tied for 12 single season offensive records and six single season pitching records. She also leads or is tied for first place in seven career offensive categories and seven career pitching categories. Her records include batting average in a season (.518 in 2008) and a career (.423), home runs in a season (10 in 2008) and a career (18), plus pitching victories in a season (19 in 2008) and a career (50) and pitching strikeouts in a season (203 in 2008) and a career (565).

Franchi also was named First Team All-NWC in 2007 and 2008, and was the NWC Player of the Year in 2008. She was chosen First Team All-America and First Team All-West Region in 2008. She was named Third Team All-West Region in 2007.

LaShawna Holcomb (Sr, CF) earned First Team All-NWC honors in the outfield. She was selected Second Team All-NWC in 2006 and 2008. She was Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2007.

This year, Holcomb started all 35 games and batted .364. She scored 27 runs and recorded 21 RBIs. She led the Bearcats with 11 doubles and six triples. She also hit one home run and had a .600 slugging percentage. She was 12 of 16 on stolen bases. On defense, she achieved 31 putouts and three assists with no errors during the season.

In four years at Willamette, Holcomb earned a .337 career batting average. She scored 100 runs and registered 96 RBIs. She hit 33 doubles, 11 triples and 10 home runs. She played in and started 141 games during her career.

Holcomb also was a significant threat on the base paths. She was 42 of 49 on stolen bases during her career, with nine or more stolen bases each season. She was 11 of 11 on stolen bases in 2006.

She set a Willamette single season record with six triples in 2009. She also established new career records with 454 at bats, 11 triples and 96 RBIs. She is ranked in the top five of numerous career categories, including second place in runs (100), total bases (238) and hit by pitches (19). Her 36 RBIs in 2008 rank second on the single season list.

Mica Romero (Fr., SS) hit .378 for the Bearcats this season. She started all 35 games and was 37 for 98 at the plate. She drove in a team-high 30 runs and scored 26 times. She pounded out four doubles, four triples and two home runs, while stealing 15 bases on 17 attempts. She made numerous outstanding plays on defense and finished the season with 39 putouts and 58 assists.

She earned two or more hits in 11 different games. She was 3 for 4 with two home runs and six RBIs in an 8-0 win over Whitworth University on April 19.

Alex Watilo (Fr., RHP) achieved a 13-3 pitching record. She finished the year with a 1.20 ERA to go with 66 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings. She limited opponents to a .229 batting average. She earned a high of eight strikeouts against Northwest Christian on Feb. 22 and against George Fox on March 19.

She gave up only 18 earned runs on the season, while contributing seven complete-game shutouts. Watilo walked only 12 batters and had just two wild pitches.

Second Team All-NWC

Nicole Wallace (Jr., C) played in all 35 games with 34 starts this season. She hit .273 and scored 22 runs on offense. She also was successful on 15 of 15 stolen base attempts. As the starting catcher on defense, she earned a .995 fielding percentage with a team-high 181 putouts, plus 15 assists and just one error.

For her career, Wallace has batted .278, while playing in 107 games and starting 106. She has scored a total of 63 runs and achieved 47 RBIs. Her career totals also include seven doubles, three triples and seven home runs. She set a WU record when she was hit by 10 pitches in 2008.

Wallace owns a .982 career fielding percentage. She has registered 436 putouts and 99 assists during her career.

Suzannah Von Trapp (Fr., 3B) started all 35 games for the Bearcats. She provided Willamette with a .307 batting average and placed second on the team with 27 runs scored. She earned 21 RBIs during the season. She belted five doubles, a triple and five homers. She recorded 23 putouts and 44 assists on defense.

Von Trapp supplied two or more RBIs six times. She went 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs in Willamette’s 8-3 win over Pacific Lutheran University on April 11.

Sierra Lessel (Fr., OF) was Willamette’s top hitter with a .418 batting average. She played in 34 games with 33 starts. She led the team with 46 hits and 28 runs scored, while tying for first with 110 at bats. She recorded 24 RBIs on the strength of seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.

She was 3 for 4 with a run and four RBIs in the 8-3 win versus Pacific Lutheran on Feb. 11. She went 3 for 5 with two runs and five RBIs in a 13-0 win over Whitworth on April 18. On defense, she achieved a total of 27 putouts in the outfield.

The Bearcats averaged 6.11 runs per game (214 in 35), claimed a .330 team batting average and held opponents to a .190 batting average. Franchi and Watilo combined for a 1.08 team ERA to rank fifth in NCAA Division III. WU ranked second in the nation with 2.91 stolen bases per game (102 in 35).

Nikki Franchi earned First Team All-NWC honors for the third consecutive year. She recorded a .423 career batting average and struck out 565 batters.

Nikki Franchi earned First Team All-NWC honors for the third consecutive year. She recorded a .423 career batting average and struck out 565 batters.