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Softball Player of the Year

Thompson, Bull, Bell earn top awards, BYU gets five on All-WCC First Team

WCC Pitcher of the Year for the second-straight sesaon, All-WCC First Team (Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

SAN BRUNO, Calif. – The West Coast Conference today announced that BYU juniors Ashley Thompson, McKenna Bull and Lauren Bell have been named WCC Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively, while head coach Gordon Eakin is Co-Coach of the Year.

A BYU player was named WCC Player of the Year for the second year in a row after Gordy Bravo won in 2015. Additionally, Bull earned the WCC Pitcher of the Year honor for the second-straight year. This is Eakin’s third-straight WCC Coach of the Year honor.

The Cougars have five players on the All-WCC First Team, more than any other school. Shortstop Bell, senior outfielder Gordy Bravo, Bull, sophomore outfielder/infielder Alexa Strid and Thompson were all named to the first team. Freshman catcher Libby Sugg was named to the All-WCC Second Team.

After being named to the All-WCC First Team in 2015, first baseman Thompson earned the WCC Player of the Year title after hitting .471 in conference play with 22 RBI, 24 hits, 16 runs and seven home runs. At first base, she has started every conference game and has managed a 1.000 fielding percentage, collecting two WCC Player of the Week nods in the process. She leads the WCC in slugging percentage (.961), total bases (49), RBI and home runs. Her best stretch came in a doubleheader against Saint Mary’s when she went 7 for 7 over the two games with seven RBI and three home runs.

The back-to-back WCC Pitcher of the Year, Bull had a 1.96 ERA in conference play this year, going 9-1 with four shutouts and one save. She tallied 69 strikeouts in 71.1 innings with just 21 walks. Over the season, she has earned six WCC Pitcher of the Week honors. Bull has broken multiple BYU records this season, including her own single season strikeout record, which she broke against Santa Clara after surpassing her pervious mark of 256 strikeouts. To clinch the WCC title, she pitched 12 innings, which is tied for the second most by a BYU pitcher, and recorded her 21st career shutout to break the career record in that category. In three WCC games, she has notched double-digit strikeouts, with 12 being the high against Santa Clara.

Also named to the WCC All-Academic Team, Bell anchored the defense from shortstop to earn the WCC Defensive Player of the Year honor. She had a .985 fielding percentage, 31 putouts and 36 assists with just one error in WCC play. At the plate, she hit .308 with 17 runs (to lead the conference), 16 hits and 10 RBI. Bell earned a WCC Player of the Week honor this season after hitting a three-run homer at Pacific to give BYU the lead and the win.

The 2015 WCC Player of the Year, Bravo led her team to a third WCC title from centerfield. She was named to the All-WCC First Team for the second year in a row after hitting .327 with 16 hits and 12 runs. With the conference title on the line, Bravo hit the game-winning RBI at San Diego in the 12th inning to win 1-0. In that game, she went 3 for 6. She has won a conference title in each of her four years at BYU.

In her sophomore season, Strid helped her team wherever she could, playing in the outfield, infield and at DP. She led the team in batting average during WCC play with .489, notching 10 RBI, 22 hits and 10 runs to earn her first spot on the All-WCC First Team. Additionally, she had three home runs, four doubles and one triple. In 10 of the 15 WCC games, Strid earned two hits.

As a freshman, Sugg started every game all season. In WCC play, she had 12 RBI, 11 hits, three home runs, three doubles and six runs to earn a spot on the All-WCC Second Team. Against Saint Mary’s, she had a career-high four RBI.

Eakin was named WCC Coach of the Year for the third-straight year after he and his staff lead the team to a 33-19 record, going 12-3 in league play to earn the WCC title for the third time in a row and overall an eighth conference championship in a row. This season, he is co-coach of the year along with San Diego’s Melissa McElvain and Loyola Marymount’s Sami Strinz-Ward.

San Diego’s Lauren Kane was named the WCC Freshman of the Year. Twelve players were named to the All-WCC First Team due to a tie in the voting.

BYU will represent the WCC in the NCAA tournament this week at the Columbia Regional.

View the full list of All-WCC Selections.

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