POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
The Hawaii softball team's postseason run last year continues to produce preseason accolades for the Rainbow Wahine.
In the past week or so, the Wahine have been awarded their highest national preseason rankings in the program's history and have been picked to repeat as Western Athletic Conference champions.
Yesterday, third baseman Melissa Gonzalez and center fielder Kelly Majam were selected to the watch list for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award.
They are among 50 players on the list, just the latest reminder of the spotlight the Wahine will work under one season removed from the school's first Women's College World Series appearance.
"Since being here, I was kind of used to people not really knowing the talent that we had and then being surprised when we came out to play," Gonzalez said. "It's a little different now that we're being recognized so much and people are seeing us as a threat. But it's good, because I think we are a threat."
Gonzalez and Majam are the second and third UH players to make the watch list compiled by the American Softball Association. Kate Robinson was the other player to earn that recognition.
Gonzalez, a senior, was a first-team NFCA All-American last year when she hit .394 with 25 home runs and 60 RBIs. Majam, the WAC preseason player of the year, led the country in homers with 30 while hitting .400 and posting a perfect season in the field.
UH enters the season ranked eighth and 13th in the national polls, and Gonzalez and Majam said the preseason attention has increased the anticipation for the new season — which opens a week from today against Southern Utah.
"Coach Bob (Coolen) has been telling us all year that people are going to come at us with their best game and are going to throw their best pitchers against us," Majam said. "We know coming out that we're a team everyone's going to want to beat.
"This is another thing that shows that we did gain respect last year and hopefully we can keep it and keep earning more."