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Hooper hauls in hardware in sensational season for CSUN softball

Hooper hauls in hardware in sensational season for CSUN softball
(CSUN Sports Information)

The following are updates on local athletes competing in college.

Katie Hooper (Burbank High, 2013) Cal State Northridge softball sophomore: It was a stellar season for the former All-Area and All-CIF standout, one in which she picked up her share of hardware.

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Perhaps the biggest accolade for Hooper, a sophomore utility player, came earlier this month when she was voted Big West Player of the Year, becoming the fourth Matador to earn the distinction. During the regular season, she led the Big West Conference in home runs (15), runs batted in (55), slugging percentage (.741), total bases (129) and extra-base hits (29).

Earlier this season, Hooper tied a school record with seven RBI in a victory at Grand Canyon. She hit two home runs in three different games and her 15 home runs are the most by a Matador since 1996. Hooper also earned Big West Player of the Week honors after CSUN's sweep at UC Santa Barbara in early April.

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Hopper was also honored as a National Fastpitch Coaches Assn. All-West Region third-team honoree.

The former Bulldog finished the season with a .392 (71 for 181) batting average, .746 slugging percentage, 35 runs scored, 56 RBI, 16 home runs, 19 walks and 12 doubles. Hooper's RBI total tied Shannon Jones (1996) for the school record for a single season. Her 16 home runs are the second-most in school history in a single season.

The Matadors (41-16, 16-5 in conference) also enjoyed a successful season, capturing the Big West Conference championship and earning a spot in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. CSUN finished with more than 40 wins for the first time since the 1996 season and made its first postseason appearance since 2007.

Unfortunately for CSUN, it saw its season come to an end May 16 with a 5-4 loss to San Diego State in a regional tournament game. Hooper was one for four in the game, which came a day after CSUN lost to UCLA, 9-1, in five innings. Against UCLA, Hooper, blasted her 16th home run, a solo shot, in the top of the first inning to give the Matadors an early 1-0 advantage. She added a single and was two for three at the plate.

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Monique Landini (Bellarmine-Jefferson High, 2013) St. John's softball sophomore: The former All-CIF Player of the Year for the Guards helped the Red Storm enjoy a historic season.

For the first time in the program's 35-year history, St. John's captured a Big East Tournament championship. In addition, the program secured its first invitation to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

"It's tough to summarize just how awesome a feeling this is," Coach Amy Kvilhaug stated on the school's website. "To do what this group of student-athletes has done is so very impressive. We set three goals this year: win the regular season, win the conference tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament.

"I have never seen a team come together through thick and thin to accomplish what we set out to do back in September. This team has been such an inspiration to me. I couldn't be happier for this group to win a Big East championship and to go down in history as the first team to ever do that is so cool."

The Red Storm (28-19) secured the conference title and an automatic postseason berth May 9 following a 7-5 victory over Seton Hall. In the win, Landini belted a two-run single up the middle to tie things up at 4-4 in the bottom of the second inning. She finished two for three.

St. John's historic season came to a close May 16 with a 9-4 loss to New Mexico State in a regional tournament game.

On the season, Landini, a shortstop, hit .324 (45 for 139) with 22 RBI, 29 runs scored, 26 walks,10 doubles and two home runs.

Lucas Yanez (Burroughs High, 2011) Lewis University men's volleyball senior: It was a senior campaign chalk full of success for the former Leader Male Athlete of the Year, who helped the Flyers advance to an NCAA Division II championship contest.

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Last week, Yanez, a libero, was one of four Lewis players selected to Volleyball Magazine's 2015 NCAA Men's Volleyball All-America Teams. Lewis Coach Dan Friend was named 2015 Coach of the Year.

In addition, Yanez was named to the 2015 American Volleyball Coaches Assn. Division II All-American second team and to the All-Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association first team.

Yanez earned second-team accolades after totaling 26 digs (2.89 digs per set) in the NCAA Tournament. Yanez led the Flyers with 208 digs on the season.

Top seeded Lewis (27-4) fell May 9 to No. 3 Loyola of Chicago, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-27, 23-21, in the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championship that was featured on EPNU. The contest featured a dramatic fifth set where both teams earned several match-points.

The match was the third contest in NCAA Championship history to go to extra points in the fifth game and is the longest fifth-set in NCAA Tournament history. Yanez finished with a match-high 15 digs.

"I think we gave you a match to remember for a long, long time in terms of just atmosphere and energy," Friend told the school's website. "I think it'll be a fun one to go back and talk about. I'm really proud of my guys and the heart that they showed. ...I can't ask for anything else. They left everything out on that floor in terms of just team, heart, dedication, effort, attitude, all that stuff. I'm just really proud of that whole group. I'm going to miss my seniors, I love them to death."

John White (Burbank High, 2013) University of Redlands baseball sophomore: The right-hander saw his share of action this season, appearing in 20 games coming out of the bullpen for the Bulldogs.

The former Burbank player was 1-1 with one save and a 3.18 earned-run average over 28 1/3 innings. In addition, he struck out 29, walked 12 and surrendered 21 hits and 11 runs.

White earned his win in Redlands' first game of the season Feb. 3, a 13-4 victory over La Sierra University. He threw one inning of perfect ball to notch the win.

The Bulldogs also feature resident Connor Hancock, a Loyola High product. Hancock, a senior outfielder, batted .364 (51 for 140) and had 40 RBI, 45 runs scored, 25 walks, 15 doubles, four triples and five home runs.

Redlands (28-14) concluded its season May 2 with a 9-3 loss to No. 1 California Lutheran University in the third annual Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament.

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