The collegiate softball season is just around the corner as most Northwest programs find their way to sunny locales and hit the dirt in a week or two.
And has been the case every year, former Fastpitch Northwest players will play a major role for the teams. There’s not enough time to track them all, but here are some who grab headlines year in and year out.
At BYU, a pair of Fastpitch NW alum – Ashley Thompson and Lexi Tarrow – are expected to play major roles in the Cougars drive to reach the NCAA D1 College World Series. BYU opens the season Feb. 9 in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge featuring National Champion Oklahoma, Auburn, Nebraska and Washington. Yes, that is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Thompson, the reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Year as a junior, led the team with a .400 batting average and a team-high 66 hits, a .733 slugging percentage and a .490 on-base percentage. She was named to the NFCA All-Pacific Region Second Team in addition to her conference honors. Bell was right behind Thompson in batting average with .373 and in hits with 62. While a senior at Connell High School (Wash.), Thompson was named MaxPreps National Small School Player of the Year.
Tarrow, who started 31 games as a freshman and batted .262, is expected to be an every day player. Her lowest batting average as a four-year stater at A.G. West High School was .508. She batted over .600 twice.
Northern Colorado’s Erica Dick (Boise, Ida.) returns for her senior year, which begins Feb. 10 in the Grand Canyon University Tournament in Phoenix. The 2016 Cubs’ Team MVP led in most offensive categories: .391 hitting, 28 RBI, 17 extra base hits, 28 runs, 52 hits, .647 slugging, 15 stolen bases and .446 OBA.
Parker Pocklington (Centralia, Wash.) begins her senior season at Arkansas on Feb. 11. As a junior, she started 47 times at second base and was second in the SEC with 10 sacrifice bunts. She homered four home runs and carded a .978 fielding percentage.
Fastpitch NW alums Delene Colburn (Auburn, Wash.) and Ashlyn Lyons (Walla Walla, Wash.) had big seasons in 2016 for the Grizzlies of Montana. Colburn not only was named all-Academic All-Big Sky Conference, but was chosen second-team All-BSC, A BSC All-Tournament Team selection after hitting .344 with a .607 slugging percentage, She ranked second in Big Sky with 63 RBIs and 12 home runs. The Grizzlies open the season in the dome at Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Lyons was named honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference when she hit .300, with 39 hits and 28 runs batted in. She had a program-record 14-game hitting streak between March 20 and April 12.
Tori Pogue (Meridian, Ida.) returns for her junior season at Cal after hitting .270 with six home runs and 26 RBI. Another MaxPreps All-American, she started 52 games as a sophomore. The Bears open the season versus Georgia Tech on Feb. 9 in Puerto Rico.
Morgan Ray (Frenchtown, Mont.), a two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year in Montana, begins her sophomore at Ohio Stat. As a freshman, she was third on the Buckeyes with 63 innings pitched, a 4.00 ERA with 46 strikeouts to go with her 3-2 record. The Buckeyes open the season on Feb. 9 in the Aggie Classic in College Station, Tex.
Ally Burgess (Ellensburg, Wash.) begins her junior season at West Virginia State (Mountain East Conference) after earning All-league academic honors. As a sophomore, she was 5-5 in 87 innings with a 2.56 ERA. She walked only seven and struck out 48. The Yellowjackets open the season Feb. 3 in Pembroke, N.C.
After transferring from Long Island University, Nikki Schroeder (Olympia, Wash.) made a huge impact at Pacific Lutheran. As a junior, she started all 38 games for the Lutes and led them with a .419 batting average and a .653 slugging percentage while boasting a .503 on-base percentage. She also led the team in total bases (81), hits (52), and walks (21) while collecting 31 RBIs, 15 extra base hits, and scoring 15 runs. Defensively was second on the team with 158 putouts, owning a .979 fielding percentage. PLU opens the season Feb. 2 in Los Angeles.
Taylor Bussey (Vancouver, Wash.) begins her senior year at Concordia University (Portland) after batting .354 with eight home runs and 46 RBI as a junior. Concordia opens the season Feb. 2 at the Desert Stinger Classic in Las Vegas.
Tia Grass (Pendleton, Ore.) will be a sophomore at Sterling College (Sterling, KS). She was named to the All-KCAC Honorable Mention team after leading the Lady Warriors in home runs with 12, 36 RBI and 16 stolen bases as a freshman.
Ali Graham (Chehalis, Wash.) has a goal of following her outstanding freshman season at Oregon Institute of Technology where she was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year after batting .412 with nine homers and 44 RBI. She also won 10 games with 2.85 ERA. OIT opens the season Feb. 3 in Rocklin, Calif.
Colorado School of the Mines senior Paige Noerhing (Boise, Ida.) was named second-team All-RMAC after she started 36 games in centerfield and hit .358, slugged .489, drove in 24 runs and scored 30. A team captain in 2016, Noerhing had 13 doubles. CSM opens the season Feb. 10 in Wichita Falls, Tex.
Pua Fujinaga (Mililani, Hawaii) has started every game in her two seasons at Colorado School of the Mines. As a freshman, she played every game at second base and last season, she split her time between second (29 games), third (11 games), and short (4 games).
Christine Hipa (Kamehameha Schools Kapalama in Hawai'i) was a member of Cal State University at Bakersfield’s first-ever WAC Tournament Champion team and first to earn NCAA DI Tournament berth when she started 38 games was named second team All-WAC with a .267 batting average. She also earned Academic All-WAC honors. The ‘Runners open the season on Feb. 10 at the Sporto Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas.
Makinlee Sellevold (Everett, Wash.) carries 37 pitching victories into her junior season at Western Washington University. She went 12-7 with a 3.24 ERA (64 ER, 138.1 IP) in 24 appearances with 22 starts in 2016. After a slow start, she finished 7-1 with a 2.57 ERA over last eight starts and nine appearances overall. Batted .304 (35-for-115) with 10 doubles and 26 RBI. In 2015, she was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and posting a 25-9 record with one save and 2.33 earned run average, tossing 21 complete games and five shutouts. WWU opens the season on Feb. 4 in Hawaii.
Sophomore Callum Pilgrim (Abbortsford, Canada), made a big hit at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), the Mid South Conference champions. In 61 games, she batted .406, scored 51, and drove in 41. The Blue Raiders open the season Feb. 16 in Beaufort, S.C.
Taylor Oda (Miliani, Hawaii), begins her junior season at Shorter University after batting .233 with 10 RBI. Started 31 games. Her fielding percentage of .987 was best on the team. The Hawks open the season Feb. 19 versus Union in Rome, Georgia.
Maryssa Santi (Nampa/ID) is a junior at Eastern Oregon University after batting .331 with 25 RBI, and five home runs as a sophomore. The Mountaineers open the season on Feb. 17 in Redding, Calif.
Lisa Sylvester (Bend, Ore.) batted .318 with 20 RBI for Northwest Nazarene University as a sophomore. NNU opens the season On Feb. 2 versus Dixie State in St. George, Utah.
Hailey Chambers (Boise/ID), enters her senior season after batting .283 as a junior and starting 30 games. She is a three-time NAIA scholar honoree. COI opens the season in West Covina, Calif. on Feb. 17.
Marissa Reynolds (Chehalis, Wash.) is a senior with Princeton. She led the Ivy League in walks, with 33, and had seven multi-hit games. She batted .262 with 20 RBI. The Tigers open the season on March. 3 in Houston, Tex.
Ashley Pesek (Redmond, Ore.) begins her senior year at College of Idaho after winning six games (4.26 ERA) and batting . 323 as a junior.
Chaleigh Kirkwood (Newport, Wash.) will be a junior at Corban University after registering a .281 batting average and 15 RBI as sophomore. Corban opens the season on Feb. 11 at Forest Grove, Ore.
Krystalani Yockman (Steilacoom, Wash.) had a big sophomore season at Texas Southern University when she batted .383 with team highs in hits (41), RBI (32) and homers (5) and OBA at.451.