From the moment Fresno State’s Trisha Ford met pitcher Jill Compton, the Bulldogs softball coach knew she needed to tougher her up mentally.
Ford devoted the majority of the innings to then-freshmen Compton as Ford and worked closely with her, teaching her the details of pitching at the Division-I level and the mindset needed to succeed.
When Compton struggled, Ford often kept her in the circle to figure out things. Experience the good and the bad.
After two up-and-down seasons with Compton as the Bulldogs’ top pitcher, Ford’s patience is paying off as Compton has established herself as a true ace — named the Mountain West’s Pitcher of the Year with the Bulldogs landing seven players to either the all-conference first-or second-team.
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Catcher Paige Gumz was named Defensive Player of the Year and Ford won Coach of the Year in light of Fresno State winning the Mountain West and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
“Jill has created who she is today through her hard work,” Ford said. “I don’t think she’d say she came here ready to go. She became a student of the game. Physically, getting herself in shape was never a problem. She learned the mechanics quickly.
“But the mental side for her was the biggest hurdle. This year, she started conquering some of those hurdles and challenges.”
It is the first Pitcher of the Year award for the Bulldogs since they entered the conference in 2012.
Compton, a junior, went 28-10 and led the Mountain West with a 2.10 ERA and 235 strikeouts in 233 innings.
With Compton dominating down the stretch and winning her past 15 starts, the Bulldogs (40-14, 20-4) won their first conference title since 2009 to return to the NCAAs after a three-year absence.
Fresno State was placed in the Eugene Regional and opens against North Dakota State (43-9), which finished the regular season ranked 25th in the nation. No. 2 overall seed Oregon(46-6) and Brigham Young (39-12) are also in the double-elimination regional.
“Jill is pitching well,” Ford said. “There’s some things we’ll need to tidy up and get her going a little bit more. Right now, she’s in a good zone and really confident.
“And our team, more importantly, is really confident with her on the mound.”
Senior center fielder Brenna Moss also made the first team, batting .446 with 59 runs, 20 RBIs and a conference-best 25 steals.
Gumz, a junior, tied for the conference lead with a perfect fielding percentage (1.000) in MW play and allowed just two passed balls on the year.
Fresno State junior pitcher Hannah Harris, sophomore second baseman Malia Rivers, junior shortstop Whitney Smith, senior outfielder Michelle Solomon and sophomore outfielder Kierra Willis made the second team.
San Diego State’s Lorena Bauer was named Player of the Year. The Aztecs (36-18) finished runner-up in conference and received an at-large in the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a look at the full list of honorees:
• Jill Compton**, Fresno State, RHP, Jr.
• Brenna Moss**, Fresno State, CF, Sr.
• Megan Sweet*, Nevada, SS, Jr.
• Brandi Heimburg*, New Mexico, OF, Sr.
• Lorena Bauer*, San Diego State, LF, Sr.
• Kayla Jordan*, San Diego State, OF, Sr.
• Jenavee Peres, San Diego State, C, Fr.
• Erica Romero, San Diego State, RHP, So.
• Jessie Hufstetler*, San Jose State, IB, Jr.
• Allison Lang, San Jose State, P, Sr.
• Jessica Madrid, San Jose State, LF, Sr.
• Garie Blando*, UNLV, SS, Jr.
• Sam Juarez*, UNLV, OF, Sr.
• Hailey Fronton, Utah State, 1B/OF, Sr.
• Noelle Johnson, Utah State, P/DP, Jr.
• Devon Bridges, Boise State, DP, Sr.
• Jordan Kreiger*, Boise State, 2B, Sr.
• Haley Hutton, Colorado State, SS, So.
• Hannah Harris*, Fresno State, RHP, Jr.
• Malia Rivers, Fresno State, IF, So.
• Whitney Smith, Fresno State, 2B, Jr.
• Michelle Solomon, Fresno State, OF, Sr.
• Kierra Willis*, Fresno State, OF, So.
• Karley Hopkins*, Nevada, 2B, Sr.
• Mariah Rimmer, New Mexico, OF, Jr.
• Michelle Cox, San Jose State, RF, Sr.
• Nicole Schultz, San Jose State, CF, Sr.
• Emily Haslinger**, UNLV, C, Jr.
• Sarah Chow, Utah State, OF, Jr.
• Alleyah Armendariz, Utah State, OF, So.
Top individual awards
•Player of the Year:
Lorena Bauer, Sr., LF, San Diego State
•Pitcher of the Year:
Jill Compton, Jr., RHP, Fresno State
•Defensive Player of the Year:
Paige Gumz, Jr., C, Fresno State
•Freshman of the Year:
Jenavee Peres, C, San Diego State
•Coach of the Year:
Trisha Ford, Fresno State
**= three-time honoree
*= two-time honoree