AKRON, OH – The Pacific Athletic Conference is celebrating their Centennial Celebration with what they are calling “100 Years of Champions”. As a part of their celebration the PAC-12 has held weekly announcements of their All-Century Team for each sport. On Monday, the conference announced the team for softball and four former Akron Racers made the elite list.
Among the 30 players selected were catcher Leah Braatz (Arizona, 94-95, 97-98), second baseman Caitlin Benyi (UCLA, 03-06), pitcher Alicia Hollowell (Arizona, 03-06), and outfielder Kaitlin Cochran (Arizona State, 06-09).
“Just an incredible honor to have these four athletes recognized by the PAC 12 Conference,” explained GM Joey Arrietta. “When you look at the PAC 12 rosters for the past century, it is a who’s who in the game. To be distinguished in this manner is a tribute beyond words.”
Braatz was Arizona’s first four-time First-Team All-American in softball and a two-time Diamond
Sports/NFCA Catcher of the Year. Braatz is second in Wildcat history with 85 career home runs and 322 RBI. Braatz was one of two catchers selected, along with UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman.
After leaving Arizona, Braatz became a member of the inaugural Racers team in 1999. She recorded 31 hits, including seven doubles and four home runs, scored 23 runs, drove in 19 RBI in just one season in Akron.
Benyi was a three-time All-American and four-time All-PAC 12 selection for the Bruins, including leading the nation in home runs as a sophomore with 24. Benyi helped UCLA win the Women’s College World Series in her freshman and sophomore years and led the Bruins to a runner-up finish her junior season.
Benyi, a second round draft pick, played two seasons with the Racers in 2006 and 2007. Benyi burst onto the NPF scene in her rookie year finishing second on the Racers with seven doubles and 22 RBI. For her professional career, Benyi picked up 45 hits, including 10 doubles and seven home runs, plated 28 RBI and scored 27 runs, while batting .241.
Hollowell was a standout for the Wildcats, leading Arizona to the 2006 National Championship and leaving the program as the career record holder with 134 wins and 1,768 strikeouts before turning pro in 2007 as a member of the Racers. Hollowell’s strikeout total currently ranks sixth in NCAA history and second in PAC-12 history behind University of Washington’s Danielle Lawrie. Hollowell was one of 13 pitchers selected, including NPF members Jennie Finch, Danielle Lawrie, Debbie Doom, Katie Burkhart and Amanda Freed.
Hollowell played one season in Akron, in 2007, leading the team with a 1.20 ERA. Hollowell threw 70.1 innings that season, throwing nine complete games in 10 starts and allowing only one home run. Hollowell struck out 70 hitters recording a 6-5 record as a professional.
As a junior, Cochran was a key player on the Sun Devils 2008 National Championship team with a .410 batting average, 20 home runs and 59 RBI that season. Cochran was a four-time First-Team All-American and a three-time PAC-12 Player of the Year.
Cochran was the first overall draft pick for Akron in 2009 and played one season with the Racers, where she had a .203 batting average with three home runs and four stolen bases from the outfield. The Racers shared Cochran with Team USA where she went on to become a staple in the National Team Program.
Hollowell, Braatz, Benyi and Cochran turned stellar collegiate careers into the opportunity to help enhance the legacy of the Akron Racers. Just as the PAC-12 is celebrating their 100th year of existence this season, the Racers are celebrating their 15th Season of Play in Akron this summer. The Racers will begin their home season on June 8th against the Pennsylvania Rebellion at Firestone Stadium. The 15th Season of Play celebration is set for July 15-17.
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, celebrating their 15th Season of Play in 2016. The Racers competed in the Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL) for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 and in the NPF since 2004. Historic Firestone Stadium is home to the Racers and numerous amateur events at all levels of play.
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fast pitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fast pitch softball since 2002. www.profastpitch.com.