Willamette is Ranked #21 in NCAA Division III Softball Top 25

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University softball team is ranked #21 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III Top 25 released on Wednesday, May 6. The Bearcats concluded the season with a 29-6 overall record and finished second in the Northwest Conference with a 22-6 mark.

NWC rival Linfield College remained #1 in the nation this week with a 36-4 record, including 26-2 in the NWC. Willamette gave Linfield one of its two conference losses with a 2-0 victory over the Wildcats on April 26.

With all eight first place votes, Linfield received 200 points in this week's poll. The University of St. Thomas, 37-4, jumped 112 spots to take over #2 in the poll with 178 points. Central College (Iowa), 36-6, dropped one position to #3 in the poll with 172 points. Ohio Northern University, 32-3, and the University of Texas at Tyler, 34-8, are tied for #4 with 157 points.

Willamette had an outstanding season. The Bearcats achieved a .330 team batting average with 54 doubles, 16 triples and 22 home runs. Pitchers Nikki Franchi (Sr., RHP, Los Gatos, CA/Saratoga HS) and Alex Watilo (Fr., RHP, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) combined for a 1.08 team earned run average.

Franchi led the team with a 0.98 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 122 2/3 innings pitched. Sierra Lessell (Fr., OF, Eugene, OR/Churchill HS) topped the offense with a .418 batting average. Willamette was successful on 102 of 131 stolen base attempts.

NFCA Division III Top 25
Released on May 6, 2009
Freshman outfielder Sierra Lessel led WU's high-powered offense with a .418 batting average. She was 19 of 23 on stolen bases.

Freshman outfielder Sierra Lessel led WU's high-powered offense with a .418 batting average. She was 19 of 23 on stolen bases.