Softball Duo Earns All-Conference Accolades

Shortstop Christa Castello earned All-Conference recognition in her first season at UC Davis.

May 14, 2013

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IRVINE, Calif. - Sophomore right-handed pitcher Justine Vela and freshman shortstop Christa Castello were rewarded for their successful seasons by receiving All-Big West Conference first and second team honors respectively as announced on Tuesday.

Vela has now received first team recognition in each of her two years at UC Davis; Castello received a nod from the conference in her inaugural season as an Aggie. 

Leading a pitching staff that ended the 2013 campaign with the lowest ERA in the conference, Vela also led all Big West 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. 

Ranked No. 19 in the league amongst everyday players with a .308 batting average in her first season of Division I competition, Castello quickly developed a reputation as one of the most dangerous all-around players in the conference as the season progressed. 

Hailing from Concord, Calif., Castello gave Aggie softball fans plenty to cheer about by making difficult plays seem anything but with her fielding skills at shortstop.

Castello held four offensive team-high marks after UC Davis ended its season with a home sweep over Cal Poly; in addition her .308 average at the plate, she also led all Aggies with 51 total bases, 15 runs and stolen bases.

Her 15 steals was the sixth-highest total in the conference. 

Also possessing a team-high .309 average against right-handed pitchers, .377 mark with runners on base and .372 clip with runners in scoring position, Castello hit .375 with the bases loaded and was a direct influence in six UC Davis victories by virtue of driving in three game-winning runs, and scoring another three game-winners.

One of the most dependable bats in the Aggies' lineup from start to finish, she successfully advanced runners in 38 of 70 opportunities (54.3 percent), the second-highest success rate on the roster, and earned nine of her 15 RBI with two outs.

By winning eight games out of its last 12 played, UC Davis ended its season with a 25-27 overall record, 11-13 mark in conference play, set a new all-time stolen base record, recorded the second-lowest team ERA in the Division I era and became the first Big West team in 13 years to defeat nationally-ranked Stanford in consecutive seasons.