Thursday, March 23, 2017

Amanda Williams Elected to Marshall Hall of Fame

Former Marshall softball great and longtime pro player Amanda Williams Paz has earned election to her alma mater's athletics Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2017.

Holding a sturdy argument as the best player in Herd softball history, Williams Paz graduated with her name atop the program's career hits and total bases categories, among six statistical columns in all. She was four times named to the all-conference first-team and earned all-region honors all four years of collegiate career, including first-team honors from 2003-2005.

Williams Paz's trophy case also includes the Mid-American Conference's Freshman of the Year honor from 2003, as well as two NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete awards. 

Following her collegiate career, Williams Paz spent several seasons in the National Pro Fastpitch professional league, earning two league titles during her tenure, including in 2009 with the Rockford Thunder and 2011 with the Chicago Bandits.

Williams Paz's resume also includes stops as an assistant coach with the Herd and most recently at Kennesaw State.

One of nine athletes set for induction in 2017, Williams Paz and her counterparts will officially join the Hall of Fame on Friday, September 15 and will be honored at the Thundering Herd football game the following day.

Along with Williams Paz, the members of the class of 2017 include Ahmad Bradshaw (football); Bob Gray (soccer); Eric Ihnat (football); Bill James (basketball/football); Katie Stein Mason (volleyball); Keith Veney (basketball); David Wade (basketball); and Rusty Wamsley (baseball).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Former Softballer Named Pittsburgh Athletic Director

Heather Lyke
Former Michigan Wolverines softballer Heather Lyke has been named the Athletic Director at the University of Pittsburgh.

Now the leader of the ACC program, Lyke makes a lateral move from her previous position as Athletic Director at Eastern Michigan. Lyke had been AD at the school since 2013, which was her first time leading a full athletics program.

Prior to her position at Eastern Michigan, Lyke also served as an Assistant Athletic Director at Cincinnati and Ohio State, including the position of Senior Associate Athletic Director with the Buckeyes directly preceding her hiring at EMU.

Lyke was a four-year member of the Wolverines softball program, where she was twice a team captain and an academic all-conference honoree. She also served as a color analyst for various softball games on the Big Ten Network from 2009-2012, while working in the Ohio State administration.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekend Roundup: The Good, the Bruin, and the Record-Breaker

  • Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen recorded her 1,000th career strikeout.
  • Auburn's Kasey Cooper joined an exclusive club, becoming just the second player in SEC history to record 250 career hits and 250 career RBI.
  • Florida Atlantic legendary head coach Joan Joyce recorded her 900th career win.
  • Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins earned her 1,500th career win.
  • James Madison pitcher Megan Good set the program's single-season record for shutouts with her eleventh of the year.
  • The accolades keep piling up for Cal Poly's Sierra Hyland - the senior pitcher set the Big West conference's career strikeout mark.
  • WHAT WE MISSED: Florida A&M head coach Veronica Wiggins earned her 700th career win.
  • Congratulations to this week's members of the No-No Express:
    • Megan Betsa, Michigan
    • Delanie Gourley/Aleshia Ocasio, Florida
    • Kaylee Carlson, Auburn (perfect game)
    • Ethel Santai, Saint Francis (perfect game)

(The Arizona Wildcats' senior comes into this season 28 home runs away from the NCAA career record. We will track her progress weekly towards the all-time mark.)

Utah and UCLA opened PAC-12 conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles. The Utes swept the trio of games, taking the first three wins the program has ever experienced at Easton Stadium. It was the first time that UCLA has been swept at home since April 2-3, 2013, when the Bruins lost all three games of a weekend series to Washington.

Jess Andree, Belmont --- The Bruin junior put together an impressive showing that included a near-.500 batting average, a trio of home runs, and a single-game, record-setting showing. In her team’s game versus Mercer, Andree hit two grand slams, the second one coming in the top of tenth inning and providing what would be the game-winning runs for the Bruins, who held off a late Mercer charge in the bottom of the inning. Andree ended her weekend with a slash line of .444/3/10, with four runs scored in all.

Braxton Burnside, Missouri --- The Arkansas-native freshman enjoyed the best weekend performance of her young career during the Tigers' trip to Florida this week. Burnside hit a trio of home runs, including two against North Dakota State in a game that saw her gather three extra base hits and ten RBI in a record-setting performance. In all, the freshman ended her week's line at .545/3/18 with an unreal 1.611 OPS.

Megan Good, James Madison --- Good continued her impressive start to the season, with two victories to continue her undefeated streak in the circle in 2017. Good threw two shutouts and allowed just seven hits in all, striking out nineteen. One of the top “dual-threat” players in the nation, Good hit .444 at the plate, including seven RBIs, a mark that included the game-winning runs in her team’s games against Binghamton and Maryland.

Former Iowa State Player Involved in Deadly Car Accident

Former Iowa State utility player Courtney Wray Keene was involved in a deadly motor vehicle accident over the weekend that has left her in ICU since the crash.

Courtney Wray Keene in 2010
According to reports, Keene was the passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband, Chad. The vehicle apparently overcorrected and traveled off the roadway in Platte County, Missouri. The vehicle became airborne and overturned several times, and also struck several trees before coming to a final stop. Chad Keene was ejected from the vehicle.

Chad Keene was killed in the accident.

Courtney Keene sustained serious injuries that have her currently placed in the Intensive Care Unit under round-the-clock monitoring. Her injuries include a broken collarbone, punctured and collapsed lung, three broken ribs, and a broken leg, among other injuries, according to a GoFundMe that has been set up.

Courtney Keene, then known as Courtney Wray, spent four seasons as a member of the Iowa State softball team from 2007-2010, spending significant time as the starting shortstop, third baseman, and left fielder for the Cyclones. She earned first-team all-Big 12 honors in her senior season and was named an all-conference first-team academic member, as well, that year.

Those wishing to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, which was set up by Courtney Keene's sister, can do so here.

This is a developing story; continue to check back on JWOS for updates.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Where Are They Now: Rhiannon Kliesing

Who is she? Rhiannon Kliesing, a former pitcher and first baseman for the Texas A&M Aggies.

Photo: Texas A&M Athletics
What is she known for? Kliesing ended her playing career as an Aggie with her name among the top ten in an incredible eight career statistical categories and seven single-season records in a similar position. She was drafted #19 overall in the 2011 NPF draft by the NPF Diamonds and played one season in the league.

Here's something interesting... Thanks to having a set of parents that are big fans of the band, Rhiannon is named after the Fleetwood Mac song Rhiannon.

Quotable quote: "Be in the moment and give it your all every time you are out on that field because, for most players, once your college career is over, your playing career is over, and you will have to figure out how to live without softball, something most of you have known and played since you were 5 years old. Some of you might go on to be coaches, but trust me, it isn’t the same and there will be days that you miss playing so much it hurts. So soak it all up while you can and enjoy every second, even the dreaded 6 a.m. workouts when you’re struggling to catch your breath and wondering why in the world you signed up for this. I promise it will be worth it and it will be some of the best years of your life!"

What's she up to now? After serving as her alma mater’s volunteer assistant/pitching coach for four years, Kliesing made a change following last season and now works in the development office in the College of Science at Texas A&M and has become a regular in the stands at Aggie softball home games.

Keep up: You can find Kliesing on Twitter @RhiannonK22.

Mizuno Drops NPF Sponsorship

Sources with knowledge of the decision have informed Justin's World of Softball that longtime National Pro Fastpitch equipment provider Mizuno has elected to drop its sponsorship of the league.

Mizuno had been a longtime sponsor of the pro league, and had even individually sponsored postseason awards, including the 2016 Player of the Year award won by the USSSA Pride's Kelly Kretschman.

With the split, Mizuno products will no longer be on the league's "approved" list, and athletes endorsed by the company will have to use other products during regular-season play.

The move comes at a time when NPF league members - including commissioner Cheri Kempf - have mounted a campaign on social media and beyond to theoretically entice large and well-known apparel companies to join the league in a sponsorship capacity.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nyree White, Daughter of Mike White, Named to New Zealand National Team Roster

Nyree White, the twenty-four year old daughter of Oregon head coach Mike White, has been named to the New Zealand national team roster for a dozen-day-long tour of Japan later this summer.

Nyree White, in her days as a pitcher
at Stanford.
The younger White, a former Division 1 pitcher for the Stanford Cardinal, is one of twenty-two rostered players for the White Sox' Japan tour. She joins former Wisconsin pitcher Taylor Paige-Stewart and former West Texas A&M star Rita Hokianga, among others, on the team's pitching staff.

Among the team's position players are former Delaware and professional player Lara Andrews and Florida State's Ellie Cooper.

Nyree White will follow in her father's footsteps by suiting up in the circle in international competition; Mike White, a New Zealand native, is a member of the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame. After becoming a United States citizen in the early 1990s, Mike White joined the US men's national fastpitch team and helped that team earn a bronze medal in the 2000 World Championships.