Willamette Picked Second in NWC Softball Preseason Poll

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has been predicted to take second place in Northwest Conference softball this season, according to the league's head coaches in the NWC Preseason Poll. The Bearcats, who finished the 2009 season at 29-6 overall and 22-6 in the NWC, were ranked in the poll behind only defending NWC champion Linfield College.

Linfield received seven first place votes and 70 points. The Wildcats have won six consecutive Northwest Conference softball titles.

Willamette received one first place vote and 55 points in the poll. The Bearcats return nine players from the 2009 team that finished second in the NWC.

Following Willamette in the poll were Pacific University in third with 47 points, Pacific Lutheran University in fourth at 43, Whitworth University in fifth at 33, the University of Puget Sound in sixth at 23, George Fox University in seventh at 15 and Lewis & Clark College in eighth with nine.

WU will be led by sophomores Alex Watilo (P, Newcastle, CA/Del Oro HS) and Mica Romero (SS, Woodland, CA/Woodland Christian).

Watilo finished her freshman season with a 13-3 record on the mound and a 1.20 ERA. She threw fourteen complete games with seven shutouts. She was chosen First Team All-NWC.

Romero also earned First Team All-NWC honors following the 2009 season. She hit .378 and provided the Bearcats will solid defense at the shortstop position.

The young Bearcats will look for leadership from their lone senior, Nicole Wallace (C, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS). WU's only junior is transfer Bri Compton (P, Kalispell, MT/Wenatchee CC). Wallace and Compton are the only upperclassmen on a team that boasts nine freshmen and nine sophomores.

Willamette opens the season at the Northwest Cup at Hood View Park in Happy Valley, Ore. The Bearcats will face Concordia University, Northwest Christian College, College of Idaho and British Columbia before opening conference play at the University of Puget Sound on March 6, 2010.

NWC Women's Softball Preseason Poll (1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Linfield (7), 70 points, 39-6 overall, 26-2 NWC in 2009
2. Willamette (1), 55 points, 29-6, 22-6 NWC
3. Pacific, 47 points, 28-12, 19-9 NWC
4. Pacific Lutheran, 43 points, 18-22, 16-12 NWC
5. Whitworth, 33 points, 15-21, 11-15 NWC
6. Puget Sound, 23 points, 16-24, 10-17 NWC
7. George Fox, 15 points, 5-32, 3-23 NWC
8. Lewis & Clark, 9 points, 4-36, 3-25 NWC

Alex Watilo was named First Team All-NWC as a freshman last season. She registered a 1.20 earned run average.

Alex Watilo was named First Team All-NWC as a freshman last season. She registered a 1.20 earned run average.