Feb. 4, 2014
With the regular season rapidly approaching, College Sports Madness released its Preseason All-Conference Softball Team, one that included junior pitcher Justine Vela and sophomore outfielder Jasmine Lee. Vela captured one of three available pitching slots on the first team, Lee was one of three outfielders named to the second team.
Leading a pitching staff that ended the 2013 campaign with the lowest ERA in the conference, Vela, a two-time All-Big West recipient, also led all league pitchers with a .177 opposing batting average this season - more than 20 percentage points lower than the league's second-ranked pitcher.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native also possessed the lowest opposing batting average in league games only at .184 and allowed right-handers to hit a paltry .171 throughout her 33 appearances.
Two NCAA top-30 rankings were also earned by last season's Big West Freshman Pitcher and Conference Pitcher of the Year; by allowing only 4.34 hits per seven innings, the lowest average in the Big West, Vela ended her second season at UC Davis ranked No. 14 nationally. She also earned seven shutouts to finish No. 2 in the league and No. 30 in the nation.
In addition to compiling a 15-10 record and a career-low 2.03 ERA, Vela also fanned 175 batters throughout her 172.2 innings in the circle and was one of only three Big West pitchers to average more than one strikeout per inning pitched.
Named a starter by head coach Karen Yoder in all 46 games played, Lee hit .266; of her 41 hits, three were for extra bases.
One of only two regulars who struck out on a team-low nine occasions, equaling then-senior Megan Guzman's total, Lee's speed helped UC Davis strengthen its reputation as one of the most dangerous teams on the basepaths.
Even though she was a freshman, Lee stepped up when it mattered on numerous occasions at the plate last year. Of her nine RBI, eight were earned on sacrifice hits-a total that fell only one shy of her Christina Guidry's team-high total.
UC Davis will open its season on Friday, Feb. 7, at the UNLV Sportco Kick-Off Classic. Taking place in Las Vegas, the Aggies will face Arkansas (3:45 p.m.) and tournament host UNLV (8:15 p.m.) in its inaugural day of competition. Links for live stats are available by clicking the "Gametracker" icon on softball's schedule page, or the schedule of events located on the bottom of the athletics department's official website, ucdavisaggies.com.