After opening the season with a perfect showing at the ASU Kajikawa Classic, the Fresno State softball team was rewarded Tuesday with national rankings in both major Top 25 polls.
The Bulldogs – who went 5-0 in Tempe, including victories against then-No. 8 Tennessee and No. 23 Utah – jumped into the USA Today/NFCA rankings at No. 24 and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at No. 22.
The Bulldogs were led by senior right-hander Jill Compton, who was named both the Louisville Slugger NFCA Division I National Pitcher of the Week and the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 21.0 innings.
Also, Bulldogs utility player Lindsey Willmon was named the MW Player of the Week. The junior transfer from Hawaii hit .467 (7 for 15) with five RBIs, five runs, two doubles and two home runs over the weekend.
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“We had a fun weekend playing Bulldog softball,” coach Trisha Ford said. “We did the things necessary to pull off some big wins and were recognized with some exciting accolades. There is a long way to go in the season, however I am excited about the start we made and look forward to many more battles on the field.”
The last time Fresno State was off to a 5-0 start was in 2011 and this is the 14th 5-0 start in program history.
Up next for the Bulldogs is the home-opening, four-team Fresno State Classic at Margie Wright Diamond this weekend, with two games Friday: 4 p.m. against Kansas and 6:30 p.m. against Sacramento State. UC Riverside is also in the field.
’Dogs picked third in MW baseball – Fresno State was selected to finish in a tie for third in the Mountain West preseason poll and junior outfielder Austin Guibor was named to the preseason All-Conference team.
Guibor was a second-team All-MW selection in 2015 after hitting .344 with a team-best .465 on-base percentage in 27 conference games. He tied for the MW lead with five triples and ranked 11th in the conference with a .339 overall average.
New Mexico and San Diego State were picked as the preseason favorites after each received three first-place votes and 32 points overall. The Bulldogs earned one first-place vote and 24 total points to tie for third with Air Force. All selections were based on votes by MW coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
Fresno State returns 22 players from 2015 and brings in 11 newcomers, including nine freshmen.
The Bulldogs open the season at 6:05 p.m. Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Creighton at Beiden Field.
’Dogs swim/dive team on roll heading to MW finals – The Fresno State swimming and diving team is in College Station, Texas, for the Mountain West Championships, which run Wednesday through Saturday.
In their fourth year in the MW, the Bulldogs (5-3) finished the regular season with their best dual meet record over the past eight seasons and broke five program records – freshman Ugne Mazutaityte in the 50 and 100 backstrokes, and junior Esme Gullick in the 100 and 200 butterflies and 200 individual medley.
Also, senior Leah Hatayama placed first in all eight dual meets in the 50 freestyle and senior Shelbie Holden has qualified for NCAA Zones in the 1-meter springboard.
“We’ve created a culture that we’re a winning team,” Fresno State coach Jeanne Fleck said. “We are going to rely on our relays and our stud individuals to get us points. We have the capability to swim the best we’ve ever swam.”
Et cetera – Air Force junior Taylor Smith (Buchanan High) was named the Mountain West men’s field Athlete of the Week after breaking the school high jump record for the second time this season, clearing 7 feet, 2.25 inches at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. The jump ranks second in conference history and seventh in the nation this season.
▪ Dixie State freshman catcher Jessica Gonzalez (Kingsburg High) earned the Pacific West Conference’s softball Newcomer of the Week award after hitting .450 (9 for 20) with her first career home run and six RBIs to help the Red Storm go 6-2 last week.