SACRAMENTO -- After leading the Hornets to the Big Sky Conference regular season championship, a 29-18 overall record and a 14-7 conference mark, Sacramento State head softball coach Lori Perez was named the Big Sky's Coach of the Year.
The award is the first for Perez, who is currently in her fifth season as head coach at Sacramento State. The Hornets clinched their first-ever Big Sky regular season title last weekend on the final day of the regular season with an 8-0 road win at Montana. Sacramento State will be the No. 1 seed at this week's double-elimination Big Sky Tournament, which begins on Thursday in Ogden, Utah. The Hornets will host next year's postseason event by virtue of winning this year's regular season championship.
The conference title was the second in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.), and 10th in program history. The 2008 team won the other Div. I conference title when it was crowned Pacific Coast Softball Conference champs in 2008. Perez was an assistant coach with that team. In addition, the team's 29 wins are the most since the 2008 team won 32. Sacramento State collected series wins against five of the Big Sky's other seven teams.
Seven Hornets received all-league accolades yesterday, highlighted by sophomore Suzy Brookshire being named the conference MVP and senior Celina Matthias named the Big Sky Pitcher of the Year. Three Hornets were named to the first team, including senior Zamari Hinton who leads the conference with a .407 batting average.
The Hornets have three winning streaks of at least five games long this season, and the team is 25-11 over its last 36 games. Sacramento State currently leads the Big Sky in pitching (2.90 ERA) while ranking second in both hitting (.286 batting average) and fielding (.968 fielding percentage).
The Hornets, who will receive a first round bye in the Big Sky Tournament, open the postseason event on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. PDT against either No. 4 seed Portland State or No. 5 Montana. Sacramento State will be seeking its first Big Sky Tournament title, and first NCAA Regional appearance since 2008. The Big Sky began sponsoring softball prior to the 2013 season.