Prior to the start of its opening-round matchup of the Postseason NISC, the Nevada softball team saw five of its players named to the Mountain West All-Conference team, as voted upon by the league’s coaches. Wednesday’s announcement from the conference saw senior Erika Hansen and sophomore Kenzi Goins receive first team nods, while senior Aaliyah Gibson, sophomore Sierra Mello and freshman Lauren Gutierrez were named to the second-team.

“I could not be more proud this group for how they have performed all season long,” Nevada head coach Josh Taylor said. “They have been some of the most influential players we’ve had this year, both on and off the field, and for the other coaches around the conference to see what this team is capable of is a huge honor.”

This marks the second time in the past three seasons the Wolf Pack has seen five players named to the All-Conference team, which ties the program record since Nevada joined the MW. For Gibson, this is the third year in a row she has received and All-Conference honor, while Hansen and Goins earned their second accolade, as Mello and Gutierrez were recognized for the first time.  

In her final year with the Wolf Pack, Hansen put together one of the best all-around seasons in program history, emerging as one of the most feared hitters in the conference and putting together an All-American candidacy. In her two years playing in the Mountain West, Hansen has led the league in RBIs during conference play in each season, totaling 25 in 2018. She also plated 24 runs, which tied for tops in the conference. Along with her top three finishes in hits (32, 3rd), home runs (6, T2nd) and total bases (59, 2nd), Hansen finished conference play ranked inside the top 10 in batting average (.386, 9th) in 24 conference games. 2018 also saw Hansen earn her first MW Player of the Week accolade, receiving the honor after batting .727 with nine RBIs, scoring seven runs and launching three home runs against New Mexico.

With the first first-team selection of her career, Goins has now received back-to-back All-Conference honors, after earning a second-team nod in 2017. In her 23 MW games, Goins was one of the league’s most dynamic and versatile players, finishing conference play ranked inside the top 20 in nearly every offensive category.  Along with her 24 RBIs that tied for second most in the league, she also smashed five home runs that ranked in a tie for sixth best and recorded 49 total bases. In the heart of conference play, Goins put together a four-week stretch where she recorded eight multiple-hit performances in 11 games that included five three-hit outings, in which Nevada had not lost a series, posting a 7-4 record during that run. That same 11-game span also saw Goins receive the first MW Player of the Week honor of her career, after batting .727 and scoring five runs, while posting a 1.182 slugging percentage against Utah State.

For Gibson, her final season with the Wolf Pack saw her earn the third All-Conference selection of her career with her .348 batting average and 21 runs scored in 20 conference games played, which ranked sixth in the MW. In the Pack’s home-opener against New Mexico, Gibson posted a three-hit performance that included a home run and stolen base on the day. Against San Diego State, she opened up the series with a 4-for-6 outing, which tied her career-high for most hits in a game. Gibson ended the regular season as one of the hottest hitters in the conference, posting a 10-game hitting streak that saw her bat .389 with 10 runs scored during that stretch.

Quickly developing into one of the Pack’s most lethal hitters with her .429 batting average that lead Nevada during conference play, was Mello who ended the regular season on an absolute tear. In her final nine games of the season, Mello had hit safely in eight contests, having batted .615 with 10 runs scored during that span. That same stretch also saw Mello post four multiple-hit performances, including two three-hit outings and a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate against UNLV, which set a career-high. Mello also became one of the most effective players in the conference at reaching base, posting an OBP of .517, which led the Wolf Pack and ranked second in the league.

As a freshman, Gutierrez was amongst the best rookies throughout the entire conference as she also received a nomination for MW Freshman of the Year. In her 24 league games, Gutierrez saw her named scattered throughout the top 20 in multiple offensive categories as her 21 RBIs and her .585 slugging percentage against league opponents ranked eighth and 16th, respectively. She became the fourth Wolf Pack player to receive recognition from the conference this season with her MW Player of the Week accolade, after her performance against Fresno State helped lead Nevada to its final series win of the year.

Fans have the opportunity to follow all of the Pack’s five All-MW players and the entire Nevada team this afternoon, as Nevada will take on UC Riverside in the opening-round matchup of the Postseason NISC at 3 p.m. PT, where fans can watch a live stream of the contest here.

(University of Nevada, Reno)