May 16, 2012
IRVINE, Calif. - Justine Vela was named the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year and Freshman Pitcher of the Year while joining Rachel Miller on the 2012 All-Conference First Team, it was announced by the league office on Wednesday.
The UC Davis softball team finished third in the final conference standings with a 14-7 league mark, just two games behind the eventual conference champion. The First Team selections for Vela and Miller marked the first postseason honors for both players.
Vela is the first Aggie to be recognized for both Big West Pitcher of the Year and Freshman Pitcher of the Year, and the third player in league history to capture both awards in the same season. The other two came from Long Beach State with Erin Jones-Wesley (2011) and Brooke Turner (2008) achieving the feat. The right-hander led the league with 272 strikeouts and ranked second in opponent batting average (.206), while posting a 20-13 record and 2.10 ERA in the circle. The freshman’s phenomenal numbers placed her fifth on the Big West single season strikeout list as well as ranking her No. 15 nationally.
Miller, a senior catcher from Costa Mesa, Calif., led the Aggies in several offensive categories, including home runs (4), RBIs (26) and on base percentage (.387). She also recorded a .265 batting average and 10 doubles en route to a .432 slugging percentage. Behind the plate, Miller anchored the UC Davis defense with a .990 fielding percentage and gunned down nine runners that were caught stealing. She caught fire late in the season, leading the Aggies in conference play with a .296 batting average. Miller had a career game in a crucial series at Pacific, hitting 4 for 4 with three doubles and four RBIs in a game one win.
UC Davis had a seven game turnaround from last season's Big West schedule after finishing 7-14 in 2011. 14 conference wins is the most the Aggies have had since finishing with a 15-6 record and Big West title in 2010. UC Davis completed the season with a 24-28 overall record.