Twelve Linfield College softball players have been recognized for outstanding seasons with their selections to the Northwest Conference all-star teams. The honors were chosen by the head coaches and announced this week by the conference office.
Seven Wildcats received first team all-conference citations, including NWC Player of the Year Karleigh Prestianni and NWC Pitcher of the Year Karina Paavola.
Joining Prestianni and Paavola on the all-NWC first team are second baseman Ashley Garcia, outfielders Erin Carson (Sr., Camas, Wash.) and Grace Middelstadt (Sr., Battle Ground, Wash.), pitcher Shelby VandeBergh and utility Lisa Yamamoto (Sr., Carson City, Nev.).
Catcher McKenna Spieth (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.) and pitcher Montana McNealy (Sr., Aloha, Ore.) were second team honorees. Honorable mention consideration went to shortstop Katy Brosig, first baseman Haylie Watson and outfielder Megan Wallo.
Paavola enjoyed a masterful season inside the pitching circle, three times earning NWC Pitcher of the Week honors. She rolled up a 22-2 record and 1.81 earned run average while striking out a conference-best 123 batters in 25 game appearances.
Prestianni earned her fourth consecutive first team all-NWC award, leading the conference in runs scored (54), doubles (19), runs batted in (58), walks (27), on-base percentage (.561), slugging percentage (.863) and sacrifice flies (5), and ranked second in batting average (.484), hits (60) and total bases (107).
Garcia, a repeat selection on the first team, earned her third all-conference nod. She led the NWC in hits (62), triples (5) and total bases (109) while her .437 batting average and .768 slugging percentage ranked third in the conference.
Carson, a first-year starter in right field, led the NWC in batting average (.496) and ranked second in on-base percentage (.529). She added 12 doubles, two triples and one home run.
Middelstadt was the NWC’s leading threat on the basepaths, swiping 33 bases in 34 attempts. She started all 42 games in center field, batting .327 with 14 RBI and 57 total bases to earn her first NWC all-star award.
VandeBergh turned in a stellar junior campaign during her first season as a rotational starter. Compiling a 12-3 record, VandeBergh led the NWC with four shutout victories. Her 2.12 ERA ranked third in the NWC and her 64 strikeouts were fifth-most among conference pitchers. She earned NWC Pitcher of the Week honors after leading Linfield to a pair of wins, including a no-hit shutout of Puget Sound and pitching six scoreless innings against defending national champion Pacific Lutheran.
During her first season as a starter, Yamamoto developed into one of the feared hitters in the NWC. She led the conference with 13 home runs and was second only to Prestianni for RBI with 56. She received one NWC Player of the Week citation, hitting .583 with four extra-base hits in Linfield triumphs over Puget Sound and PLU.
Spieth filled an important void at catcher this spring, starting all 42 games behind the plate. She hit .253 in her first season as a starter, including eight doubles, two triples and one home run. She also stole seven bases and drove home 14 runs.
McNealy excelled as an overpowering closer, striking out 62 batters in just 38 2/3 innings of action. Her glossy 0.91 ERA was lowest in the NWC. Uhe compiled a 2-1 record and collected one save.
An honorable mention selection for the second straight year, Brosig started all 42 games at shortstop. She hit .252 with eight doubles, one triple and one home run. She contributed 19 RBI and drew 14 walks, striking out just three times in 115 at bats.
Watson, a second team honoree in 2012, did not miss a starting assignment. She hit .301 with three doubles, seven home runs and 27 RBI. Her .989 fielding percentage was the highest among Linfield infielders.
Wallo turned in her finest collegiate season, hitting .341 as the Wildcats’ No. 2 hitter in the batting order. She started 40 games in left field, solidifying a position that was a question mark heading into the season. She stole 18 bases in 19 attempts while adding six doubles, one triple, 18 RBI and 53 total bases.
Linfield coach Jackson Vaughan was appointed NWC Coach of the Year for the ninth time in 10 seasons. Vaughan guided the Wildcats to a 36-6 record, the program’s 10th consecutive NWC championship and NCAA Division III playoff berth, and a undefeated mark (3-0) in the NWC Tournament.
The Wildcats await word from the NCAA on their playoff destination. The full 62-team field, which includes eight regional sites, will be announced Monday at 7 a.m. PDT on NCAA.com