LOGAN, Utah – Adding to the postseason accolades, two Utah State softball players have been named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) all-Pacific Region teams. Junior third baseman Victoria Saucedo earned second-team honors, while senior utility player/pitcher Noelle Johnson has been named to the third-team.
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s 10 regions with first, second and third team selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams, and all the honorees now become eligible for selection to the 2016 NFCA Division I All-American squads. Players are considered based on their overall season performances, as well as special consideration for games against top-75 RPI teams.
“This is a tremendous honor, not only for Vic and Noelle, but also the program,” said Utah State head coach Steve Johnson. “The all-Region voting is loaded with great players and this year was no exception, especially with the Pac-12 schools in our region, who are all going to the post-season and the success that schools like Fresno State and San José State had. It’s great to see them recognized for their efforts.”
Utah State’s student-athletes are among 14 from the Mountain West to be honored, led by five awards to Fresno State players. In the state of Utah, nine players were included on the all-Pacific team as the Aggies join three players from Utah and two from BYU.
Saucedo earned third-team all-Pacific Region honors as a freshman in 2014. All-time, 17 Utah State players have earned NFCA all-region honors a total of 23 times.
One of two players to start all 51 games of the season, Saucedo hit .325 with 49 hits on the year. She led the team in home runs, hitting 12 to tie the single-season record at Utah State. Saucedo scored 31 runs while batting in a team-best 44. In the 17 games played against top-75 RPI teams this year, Saucedo hit .308 with 16 hits and five runs scored. Back from an injury last season, Saucedo matched many of her statistics from her rookie season that won her the Freshman of the Year title.
“It’s great to see Vic have a great comeback year after a little sophomore slump and Tommy John surgery. Moving back to third base where she won Mountain West Freshman of the Year and made third-Team NFCA all-Region, she became a shutdown corner for us while putting up strong offensive numbers and tying the school record for home runs in a season. There were some really good third basemen nominated this year so this is a great honor.”
Recognized for her performance in the circle as well as the outfield, Johnson batted .348 this season in a team-high 161 at-bats. She led the team with 14 doubles, as well as five home runs. Johnson pitched 130.1 innings this season, posting a 9-12 record while tallying 75 strikeouts. Johnson pitched in nine of USU’s games against top-75 RPI teams, while batting .286 against the same group.
“This is one more feather in the cap for Noelle as she finishes off her career at Utah State,” Johnson said. “As her pitching load was lightened with a deeper staff, her offensive game continued to grow to the point that we couldn’t take her out of the lineup. She learned to play right field this year and did a great job in a new position. This award just underscores her value to our program these last three years.”
Utah State had its best season in 20 years this season, finishing with a winning record for the first time since 1996. The Aggies ended the 2016 campaign at 26-25 overall, posting a 12-12 conference record. Tying for third in the Mountain West, the Aggies recorded their highest conference finish since the 1993 squad tied for first in the Big West standings. As a team, USU batted .307 on the year while setting new program records in runs scored (281), doubles (86), home runs (50), total bases (701), RBIs (259), slugging percentage (.492) and on base percentage (.383).
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