As the Weber State University softball team began Big Sky Conference play in March, not much had gone right for the squad in 2019. The Wildcats started the season 7–17 but put all the early struggles behind them for league play, the games that are vital for seeding for the conference tournament and the right to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

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Takesha Saltern hits against Sacramento State. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

WSU was able to turn their season around by going 14–2 in conference games, the best mark of any team in Big Sky history. Weber State finished a perfect 8–0 in home conference contests en route to claiming the regular-season title for the fourth straight year.

This season, the conference tournament is being held in Sacramento, California. The Wildcats and Sacramento State Hornets tied for first place in the regular season in 2018, with Sac State winning the tiebreaker. Big Sky rules state the winner of the previous regular season hosts the tournament the following year.

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Wildcat Faith Hoe slides home. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The ‘Cats received a bye into the second round and matched up against fifth-seeded Portland State on Wednesday afternoon. It was a tight battle throughout and Weber State emerged victorious 3–2 after a game-winning single by sophomore third baseman Chloe Camarero in the tenth inning.

Camarero provided all of WSU’s offense in the tournament opener, as she also came through with a two-run homer in the first inning. She led the conference with 39 runs batted in during the regular season, including 25 since March 27.

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Camarero slides at home base to score for Wildcats as teammate Pestka looks on. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

The ‘Cats are looking to reverse their postseason fortunes after being swept out of the double-elimination Big Sky tournament on their home field a year ago. Despite having the number two seed, WSU was defeated by Northern Colorado and Portland State to end their hopes of advancing to a regional.

There was no shortage of Weber State representatives on the postseason honors ballot this year, as eight players were named to the All-Big Sky Team. Junior right fielder Takesha Saltern earned the league’s most valuable player award while also receiving first-team honors.

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Takesha Saltern slides home for the ‘Cats. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

Saltern batted .413 in 42 regular-season contests, often slapping the ball to the opposite field to get on base. She recorded at least one hit in 33 games while stealing 19 bases in 22 attempts. Saltern is the second Weber State player to be awarded MVP after Aubrey Whitmer did so in 2016.

Freshman second baseman Faith Hoe was named co-conference freshman of the year along with Idaho State pitcher Autumn Pease.

Other honorees included Camarero, junior center fielder Landi Hawker and senior right-handed pitcher Addie Jensen being named to the first team. Faith Hoe earned second-team honors. Her twin sister, freshman catcher Lauren Hoe, was listed as an honorable mention along with junior first baseman Ashlyn Visser and sophomore shortstop Syd White.

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Visser slides for third base against University of Utah. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

Wildcats head coach Mary Kay Amicone was also honored, as she earned Big Sky coach of the year. This is Amicone’s second time winning the award after doing so in 2015, her second year at the helm.

Weber State’s first-round victory kept them in the winner’s bracket and put them two wins away from a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will face either Idaho State or Northern Colorado on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Shea Stadium.

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Landi Hawker attempts to take second base. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)
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