Linfield Wildcats

May 11, 2014
NFCA picks six
Complete NFCA All-Region Teams
Success on the softball diamond has translated into recognition on the prestigious National Fastpitch Coaches Association West Region all-star team.

The coaches organization announced Saturday the inclusion of six Linfield College players among its all-West Region selections. Four Wildcats were named to the first team.

Seniors Ashley Garcia, Katy Brosig and Karina Paavola are joined by freshman Erin Kinney (Sr., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) on the West Region first team. Receiving third team all-region accolades are juniors Grace Middelstadt and Lisa Yamamoto.

Garcia received her third appointment to the NFCA all-star team. A two-time second team pick the previous two seasons as a second baseman, Garcia earned first team honors during her first year as a starter at third base.

“Seeing Ashley go back to her natural position of third base and step in for a four-time All-American and become a first team all-region player for us in her senior year, that was cool,” said Wildcats coach Jackson Vaughan.

Garcia hit .403 while starting all 43 games at the hot corner. She led the Wildcats with 51 runs batted in while smacking 12 doubles and six home runs. She topped Linfield statistics with 84 total bases and a .632 slugging percentage. Defensively, Garcia finished with a .934 fielding percentage.

“Ashley is really deserving,” said Vaughan. “She had a very solid year for us defensively at third, was our leading RBI producer, and was someone who had a lot of key hits for us this year.”

Paavola received first team all-West Region honors for the third time of her career, leading the Northwest Conference with 19 victories in the pitching circle and a career-best 175 strikeouts. The NWC Pitcher of the Year maintained a 1.34 earned run average while holding opposing batters to a .158 average. She concluded her career as Linfield's all-time wins leader with 73.

“Karina's body of work for the season puts her up there with the very elite pitchers in the nation. She had a great year overall,” said Vaughan.

Receiving West Region honors for the first time in her career is Brosig. A three-year starter, Brosig rebounded from a subpar junior season offensively, elevating her batting average dramatically from .242 to .424. Brosig totaled 15 doubles, one triple and three home runs while driving in 32 runs, drawing 20 walks and stealing seven bases. She led the squad with a .532 on-base percentage.

“Katy really set the table for our offense and had a lot of big hits for us this year,” said Vaughan. “To go from last season where everything was a struggle, all the way to ranking second in the conference in batting average is a great tribute to her work ethic and her work throughout the offseason to tweak a few things with her swing.”

Kinney began her debut season as an unknown commodity but quickly made her skills apparent. She first saw action as a pinch hitter before the coaching staff carved out playing time for her in left field and as the designated player.

Kinney finished with a .385 batting average – fourth-best on the club – with 10 doubles and four home runs. She drove in 21 runs and had the third-highest slugging percentage on the team at .624.

“Erin went 3-for-5 in her first few pinch-hit opportunities. We realized then she was someone we needed to give some more at-bats to, but we just had to find a place for her to play defensively,” Vaughan said.

“Offensively, Erin really stepped up and gave us a really solid hitter in the No. 5 spot. She had a lot of big hits toward the end of the year.”

Middlestadt, a two-time West Region honoree, missed early season practices due to a January study abroad trip to Africa, but fine tuned her game as the season went along and by the time the playoffs arrived, she was a well-oiled leadoff hitter for a Linfield offense that collectively hit .329.

“Grace had a strong finish to the year. Obviously, she's a catalyst for our offense. She was our best base runner and best base stealer and played with a lot of confidence out there.”

A left-handed slap hitter, Middelstadt hit .328 with 45 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. She accounted for two doubles, two triples and one memorable inside-the-park home run against Whitworth in the NWC Tournament.

Defensively, Middlestadt committed just a single error in center field, accounting for her glossy .974 fielding percentage.

“She was an anchor in center field,” said Vaughan. “Having as much range as Grace does, she was able to track down just about every ball hit out in the gaps. And we gradually added some things to her offensive game this year. It will be exciting to see what she can do with that next year.”

Yamamoto, a 2013 NFCA All-American as a utility player, alternated in the lineup between first base and designated player, hitting .320 with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs.

“Lisa struggled at times with her swing but worked hard to fix a few things while trying to live up to the success she had the year before,” said Vaughan. “She battled throughout the year and put together a pretty solid season. She was someone who had a number of quality at-bats for us.”

The All-Region teams are nominated and selected by NFCA member coaches in each of the eight Division III regions. First team All-Region choices are eligible for selection to the NFCA All-America team, which will be revealed May 21 at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship banquet in Tyler, Texas.

The Wildcats concluded the 2014 season with an overall record of 34-9, a NWC championship, NWC Tournament title, and an appearance in the Redlands Regional playoff tournament.
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Garcia, Paavola, Brosig
Kinney, Yamamoto, Middelstadt
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