MAC Announces Softball Players & Pitchers of the Week

Updated 4/12/2011
East Division Player of the Week
Alissa Birkhimer, Akron, So., P/1B, Hebron, Ohio (Lakewood)
Akron sophomore slugger Alissa Birkhimer had a tremendous week for the Zips, going 9-for-18 at the plate over six games, including three home runs and seven RBI. In a sweep of St. Francis (Pa.), the Hebron, Ohio native went 3-for-4 for the series, and a perfect 3-for-3 in the finale with two home runs and four RBI to power Akron to a 7-6 comeback victory. In MAC play at Ohio, she finished 5-for-8 with another long ball and drove in a total of three runs for the series. She has boosted her average to .318 and now leads the team with a .614 slugging percentage and 22 RBI.

West Division Player of the Week
Molly Coldren, Central Michigan, Jr., SS, West Bloomfield, Mich./Notre Dame Prep
Molly Coldren put together a monster week in which she became Central Michigan's sole leader all-time in home runs. The junior batted .727 on the week (8-for-11), with three home runs, a double, seven runs scored and seven RBI for a slugging percentage of 1.636 on the week. Coldren also drew seven walks for an on-base percentage of .833 as she reached base safely in all six games. She became CMU's sole leader in home runs with a two-run shot versus Detroit on Wednesday in game one, before hitting a three-run blast in game two for 22 career home runs. Coldren went 4-for-7 over the weekend versus conference opponents, but was walked six times, as she drove in single runs versus Toledo in game one and game one of the Bowling Green doubleheader. The West Bloomfield, Mich., native increased her batting average from .295 to .361 with the torrid week and now leads the Chippewas.

West Division Pitcher of the Week
Jenna Ignowski, Eastern Michigan, So., Niles, Mich./Niles
Sophomore pitcher Jenna Ignowski maintained a flawless 0.00 ERA after going 2-0 this weekend in the Eagles' doubleheader sweeps over both Bowling Green and Toledo to improve her overall mark to 11-3 on the year. The righty hurler was nearly perfect in EMU's 7-0 win over Toledo on April 9, throwing a complete game shutout while fanning seven in the circle. Ignowski allowed a leadoff double to start the game, but then retired the next 20 batters and faced the minimum in the seven-inning shutout. Against BGSU, the Niles, Mich. native added yet another complete game shutout to her already-impressive résumé and tied a career-high 12 strikeouts in EMU's 1-0 win over the Falcons. Over 15.0 innings in the circle, Ignowski gave up just four hits and held her opponents to a meager .083 batting average while striking out 20.

East Division Pitcher of the Week
Emily Wethington, Ohio, Sr., New Palestine, Ind./Scecina Memorial
Wethington pitched her way to a pair of wins as Ohio swept Akron at home last weekend. She went the distance in an eight-inning matchup with the Zips in the opener scattering seven hits and allowing two earned runs. She struck out five batters, including two in a row in the fifth. In the second game she came out of the bullpen to work the final 2.2 innings and retired eight of the nine batters she faced. Wethington threw 27 pitches, 23 for strikes. Offensively she notched the game-winning RBI on a single down the right field line in the eighth which scored Melissa Bonner.


Additional Nominees
Alex Riedeman, Akron, Sr., Snohomish, Wash./Midland JC
Akron senior Alex Riedeman was solid on the mound in several close games for the Zips, going 2-3 with a 2.04 ERA while starting three games and making two relief appearances. She struck out 16 total batters while walking only two. In her three starts, she threw complete games in all three and went 1-2, those two losses coming in one-run affairs, including an extra inning contest at Ohio. She earned both wins over St. Francis (Pa.), pitching a complete game shutout in the first and coming in to pick up the win with 2.2 innings of relief in the finale, allowing just two hits and no earned runs to seal the victory.

Jennifer Gilbert, Ball State, Fr., DH, McKinney, Texas/McKinney
Freshman Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) had a phenomenal showing for Ball State in the squad's 5-3 victory against Mid-American Conference foe Miami Saturday at the MU Softball Stadium, tallying five RBI on the day. In the top of the seventh inning, Gilbert brought Ball State back after hitting her first career grand-slam to bring home senior shortstop Alicia Barkley (Oklahoma City, Okla./Putnam City) and senior right fielder Alyssa Collins (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon), who both reached on fielding errors, and freshman first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern), who drew a walk. The home run marked Gilbert's seventh of the season.

Audra Sanders, Ball State, So., Lynnville, Ind./Tecumseh
Junior Audra Sanders (Lynnville, Ind./Tecumseh) had a strong week for the Cardinals in which she improved to 13-8 after pitching a complete game shutout Sunday afternoon to pick up a 1-0 victory against Mid-American Conference foe Miami at the MU Softball Stadium. Sanders posted a 0.00 ERA, held her opponents to just a .200 batting average, struck out six and gave up five hits and one walk after seven innings of work. In the top of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Sanders came through for the Cardinals by forcing the RedHawks' Jenna McGivney to strand three runners on base by grounding out to short.

Tori Speckman, Buffalo, Fr., Alvin, TX/Alvin
Speckman pitched 11.2 innings of relief on Saturday in UB's two games of the doubleheader with Western MIchigan, allowing just one run. She picked up the win in UB's extra-inning victory over the Broncos. Speckman led the Bulls in ERA for the weekend and picked up her team-leading fifth win.

Kristin Waldron, Buffalo, Jr., 3B/C, Windsor, NY/Windsor Central
Waldron batted .500 for the weekend, with four RBIs, none more important than her walk-off single to score a run in UB's nine-inning win over Western Michigan on Saturday. In UB's 13 inning game against Northern Illinois, Waldron went 4-for-7, tying the school record for hits in a game. She also joined three other players in setting the school record for at bats in a game with seven. Waldron had a big two-run double in that game, tying things up with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings. Waldron has currently hit in four straight games and is tied for the team lead in multiple hit games.

Kari Seddon, Central Michigan, Sr., St. Clair, Mich./St. Clair
Senior Kari Seddon went a perfect 3-0 last week, giving up zero earned runs while striking out 14 batters over 13.0 innings. Seddon pitched five-innings of one-hit ball versus Detroit on Wednesday to open Margo Jonker Stadium, striking out seven Titans en route to a 10-0 mercy. The senior followed up the performance with another five-inning complete-game shutout on Friday, 8-0 over Toledo, striking out seven Rockets while giving up just two hits. In the weekend finale, Seddon pitched the first three innings against Bowling Green, striking out three and giving up one run (unearned) en route to her third-straight win. Seddon lowered her season ERA from 2.12 to 1.89 by not giving up a run during the week. Not only did the pitcher prevent runs from scoring, she provided a bulk of CMU's offense during the week, going 7-for-16 (.438) with a home run, nine RBI, four runs scored and three doubles.

Jessica Richards, Eastern Michigan, Jr., 3B, Canton, Ohio/Jackson
Richards went 7-for-14 for a .500 batting average at the dish this weekend to help the Eagles to doubleheader sweeps over both Bowling Green and Toledo. The junior outfielder showcased both speed and power at the plate, cranking out two doubles and triple while swiping three bases in three attempts. Richards maintained a .750 slugging percentage through four contests after cranking in three RBI and scored five times, and her offensive run over the weekend improved her batting average from a .289 to a .320 clip. The Canton, Ohio native was also flawless defensively for the Eagles, playing every inning at third base without committing a single error.

Shannon Laughlin, Kent State, R-Jr., 1B, Fairview Park, Ohio/Fairview
In four MAC games, Laughlin hit .462 with two home runs, nine RBI, six runs scored, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .563 on-base percentage. With her team down 7-3 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh against Northern Illinois, she hit a two-run double as the Flashes went on to score three more runs in the seventh for the comeback victory. Laughlin hit a key two-run homer in Kent State's 5-4 victory over Western Michigan. She also drove in a run in KSU's 4-0 win over Robert Morris.

Jennifer Barnett, Northern Illinois, So., 1B, Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli
Jennifer Barnett was an offensive catalyst in NIU's 3-1 weekend over MAC opposition over the weekend. She batted .571, going 8-for-14 with five RBIs and five runs scored. Barnett led the way for the Huskies in their 19-12 victory over Kent State going 3-for-5 from the plate with a team-high three RBIs and a game-high four runs scored. She had a perfect 3-for-3 day in NIU's 7-0 win over Buffalo in the second game of a doubleheader and was 1-for-1 with a two-run double to left field in the Huskies' 10-9 13-inning victory over the Bulls in the first game.

Alexis Joseph, Ohio, Jr., SS, Alvin, Texas/Alvin
Joseph led the Ohio offense with a 2-for-4 game and two runs scored as the Bobcats completed the sweep of Akron last weekend. She opened the scoring in game two after she and Paige Kemezis hit back-to-back doubles to take a 1-0 lead. In her next plate appearance she singled and came around to score during a four-run sixth that secured the victory. For the week she went 3-for-7 and boasted an on-base percentage of .500.

Gracie Barstad, Western Michigan, Jr., IF, Canby, Ore./Canby
Barstad improved on her .381 average this week against MAC competition, hitting .500 (7-for-14) against Kent State and Buffalo. The junior had three multi-hit games this past week with a 3-for-4 performance in game two at KSU. In that game, Barstad had a pair of extra base hits with a double and a home run that helped WMU get within a run during its comeback bid. Barstad slugged .786 in MAC play and recorded three of her four RBIs for the week.

Kayla Houston, Western Michigan, Jr., San Diego, Calif./Valhalla
Kayla Houston shutout Oakland in four innings of work, giving up just two hits in a 13-0 victory for WMU. Houston claimed her second win of the week with an 8-6 decision at Kent State, striking out nine batters, her most in a game this week. Houston also contributed offensively, hitting .333 with three doubles and three RBIs. She had two doubles in a game against Kent State, making her the 34th player in WMU softball history to accomplish the feat.