Take a look at the Western Washington University softball box score and you might see an unfamiliar name leading the team in nearly every offensive category. But it’s not a freshman putting up these team-leading numbers, it’s senior transfer Alicia Fine.
Fine, a shortstop, transferred to WWU this year from NCAA Division I Portland State University and has stepped right into the top of the team leaderboard. Entering the weekend, her .385 batting average, 22 runs, 35 hits, nine doubles, 22 RBI and .582 slugging percentage are either the team high, or tied for team high.
“That’s one of my roles, just being consistent,” Fine said in a phone interview.
With such a prolific offensive stat line, Fine manages to stay relaxed and cool in the batter’s box.
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“My approach is not to think and just swing,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
The Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference is actually pretty comparable to the Division I Big Sky Conference, Fine noted.
“At D-I it’s a little harder, but it’s still competitive,” she said. “The pitching (in Division II) is a little slower, but with the teams we’ve been facing (at the Tournament of Champions) it’s been faster.”
Fine is also a leader defensively. She has just five errors this season in 131 chances, with 50 put-outs and 76 assists for a .962 fielding percentage.
She’s been working on backhanding ground balls and tries to stay positive in the field, she said.
“My philosophy is just getting better every ground ball and focusing on each ground ball and staying through it,” Fine said.
Her move to WWU was fueled by a coaching change at Portland State, so she returned closer to her hometown in Mount Vernon to play for one of her former high school coaches, WWU coach Amy Suiter.
“It’s a new level now, but she’s a very good coach,” Fine said of Suiter. “She’s very vocal and understanding of failure, and she helps you learn.”
Since she was already familiar with the coach, Fine said Suiter asked her to take a big role on the Vikings’ squad this year, including taking some leadership.
But being a new face at Western and playing in her final year of eligibility made that transition from the new person to leader much harder.
“Coming in as a senior and being new was hard, but I had to fill the leadership role since I am a senior,” Fine said. “Some of the challenges were being new and getting to know everyone. The team has been very accepting and welcoming.”
Luckily, Fine hasn’t had to take on the GNAC by herself. A solid group of seniors and underclassmen like freshman Emily Benson, the team leader in home runs (four) and RBI (22), and junior Alexie Levin, the team leader in on-base percentage (.485) and runs (22).
“As a team we’re doing good. We’re learning and progressing as a whole each game,” Fine said.
With those leaders on offense, the Vikings are looking to hit a stride the final part of the season and hope to head to the NCAA Division II National Tournament later this year.