Irvine, Calif - After winning its first ever Big West championship, the Pacific softball team kept their winning ways going as the Tigers cleaned up during the awarding of postseason honors as the All-Big West teams were released on May 17. The Tigers took home three major honors with head coach Brian Kolze earning Coach of the Year honors while sophomore Nikki Armagost was named the Field Player of the Year and freshman Kelsey Rodriguez took home Freshman Field Player of the Year honors.
In addition to their major awards, the Tigers dominated the all-conference teams as Pacific took seven spots on the first team and one on the second team for eight total awards. In addition to her player of the year honors, Armagost was named both a first team all-conference pitcher and utility player while Rodriguez took home first team designated player honors. Joining the duo on the first team was sophomore Amy Moore (catcher), junior Nicole Matson (first base), sophomore Megan Hom (outfield) and senior Lindsey Pierce (outfield). Freshman Tori Shepard earned second team pitcher honors to round out the Tigers' eight selections.
Pacific's seven selections to the All-Big West First Team was the most ever in conference history for a single team while tying the number of players to receive first team honors with six. Three other times six players from a single team earned the award: Cal State Fullerton (1986 & 2001) and Fresno State (1990). Pacific's previous high was five in 1985, the first season of existence for the Big West as it is known today.
Guiding the Tigers to their first-ever Big West title in his 19th season at the helm of the program, Kolze was named the conference's top coach for the fourth time in his career and first time since the 2002 season. Leading an extremely young squad that featured seven underclassmen in the starting lineup, Kolze finished the regular season with a 37-17 overall record while posting a 16-5 mark in Big West play. Playing against some of the nation's best, Kolze led the Tigers to three wins over top-25 programs throughout the year including a 13-2 (5 inn.) dismantling of No. 8 Cal on Mar. 30. The architect of Pacific's record-breaking offense, Kolze coached the Tigers to an impressive .327 average, shattering the Tigers' previous record of .299 set in 2007 and ranking No. 14 in the nation. Additionally, the Tigers scored 294 runs in 54 regular season games, two off the record 296 scored in 60 games in 2007. Pacific's 5.44 runs per game ranks No. 38 among all Division I teams while Pacific's record .438 slugging percentage is No. 63 nationwide.
Earning her second Player of the Year honor after earning Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors last season, Armagost put together a stellar sophomore campaign en route to the 2011 Field Player of the Year award. The first Tiger to earn the award since all-time great Gina Carbonatto in 2006, Armagost proved to be one of the most versatile players in the Big West as she was a threat at the plate, in the circle and with her glove at first base. For the regular season, Armagost posted a .374 average, fourth best among Big West hitters, while driving in 45 runs and scoring 35 runs. Her 45 RBI ranked second only to fellow first teamer, Nicole Matson, while her 35 runs ranked fourth in the Big West. In addition, Armagost finished the regular season with 64 hits, second most in the conference behind Hom.
In addition to her stellar showing at the plate, Armagost was just as good in the circle as the sophomore posted a 19-9 overall record with a 2.54 ERA. Even more impressively, Armagost was nearly unbeatable in Big West play as she posted a 10-1 record against conference foes while posting a 1.79 ERA. She picked up three of her four shutouts on the year in Big West play while throwing eight complete games. For her efforts, Armagost took home two pitcher of the week awards on April 11 and May 9. Armagost earned second team pitching honors and first team utility honors in 2010.
Joining Armagost among the players of the year was Rodriguez who earned the Tigers' second straight freshman yearly award after Armagost's pitching award in 2010. Putting together an epic inaugural campaign, Rodriguez led the Big West in batting after posting a .395 average through the regular season. Even better when facing conference foes, Rodriguez posted a .406 average in the Tigers 21 Big West games. Despite playing 10 less games than most of the other regulars in the Big West, Rodriguez still managed to post 51 hits on the year, a total which ranked No. 8 among all hitters in the conference. In addition, the freshman added 25 RBI and 24 runs on the year while picking up 16 of those RBIs in Big West games, second most on the team.
Making her first appearance on the all-conference team was Pacific's starting catcher who finished the regular season among the Big West's best hitters while rating as one of the top defensive players. Hitting in the heart of Pacific's order, Moore finished the regular season hitting .306 while driving in 38 runs and scoring 20 runs. The sophomore found her power stroke as well in her second season, blasting seven home runs throughout the regular season, No. 6 among all Big West hitters. Additionally, the sophomore became the first player in Pacific program history to hit two home runs in the same inning as she slugged a solo home run and a two-run homer in the fourth inning of Pacific's 11-0 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Mar. 12. Defensively, Moore proved to be the top defensive catcher in the league as well, throwing out a Big West best 13 would-be basestealers while also picking off a conference-high seven runners. For the season, Moore posted a .990 fielding percentage after committing just three errors in 286 chances. She earned the Tigers' first player of the week award during the year as she took home the award on Feb. 28.
Coming back from a season-ending knee injury in 2010, Matson proved once again to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate as the slugging infielder put together a record campaign in 2011. After a slow start, Matson went on a tear as she finished the season hitting .329 overall while upping her average to .377 in conference games. The Big West's top run producer, Matson led the way with 49 RBI, second most in Pacific program history, while driving in a conference best 22 in 21 Big West games. In addition, Matson became just the third Tiger in program history to hit the 40 RBI, 40 Run, plateau in a single season as the junior added 42 runs scored to her totals. The slugger added 10 home runs and had 22 combined extra-base hits of her 42 total hits to post a .604 slugging percentage. The queen of the hit batter, Matson led the league with 19 hit by pitch while adding 28 walks, a total which helped her post a .490 on-base percentage, second best in the Big West. She earned one player of the week award as she picked up the weekly honor on April 18. The award was the second of her career after earning honorable mention honors as a freshman.
A rock in the outfield, Hom picked up her second first team award in as many collegiate seasons after putting together yet another record worthy campaign. Leading the Big West in hits for the second year in a row, Hom posted 69 hits in the regular season, a number that ranks third fourth in Pacific single-season history. Her .377 batting average was second best in the Big West to Rodriguez as the sophomore set the table throughout the season for an offense that ranks historically as the best in Tiger history. Scoring 42 runs on the year, Hom is tied for No. 5 in Pacific single-season history with Matson while she also added 20 RBI in her second year. In the field, Hom committed just one mistake while patrolling center field, also regularly making the extraordinary the mundane including robbing a pair of home runs during the year. She was named the conference's player of the week on Mar. 28.
A two-time second team honoree prior to earning her first first team award this season, Pierce led the way for the Tigers in conference play as Pacific picked up its first ever Big West title. Hitting .441 in Big West games, Pierce went 30-for-68, picking up the most hits in Big West contests out of all conference hitters. Overall, the senior posted a .364 average in the regular season while tallying a career-high 63 hits. She added 34 runs scored and 10 RBI while starting all 54 games for the Tigers in right field. In addition to her season totals, Pierce became just the eighth Tiger in program history to record 200 hits for her career as she picked up her 200th hit against UC Santa Barbara on senior day. She currently ranks No. 6 all-time with 206 career hits.
Rounding out the Tigers' all-conference honors was Shepard who was one of the top freshman in the conference in 2011. Working her way into the No. 2 spot in the Tigers' pitching rotation, Shepard finished the regular season at 14-8 with a 2.97 ERA after appearing in 31 contests. Mature well above her years in the circle, Shepard was called upon to take on some of the nation's best throughout the year including picking up the Tigers' first victory over a ranked opponent on the year when she defeated No. 13 Oregon, 4-2, on Feb. 26. Additionally, the freshman earned the victory in relief against No. 23 Fresno State on April 5 when the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs, 5-4, in 11 innings. For the year, Shepard picked up one pitcher of the week award as she earned the honor on April 4, the first pitcher of the week award for the Tigers.