WNC softball players sign with Division II schools
Western Nevada College softball fans will have two more reasons to follow the Black Hills State University program next season — catcher Lauren Lesniak and center fielder Pamela Sakuma have signed letters of intent to attend the NCAA Division II school located in Spearfish, S.D.
Lesniak and Sakuma will join former Wildcat pitcher Carlee Beck with the Yellow Jackets, who play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“Those two can be impact players coming in at Black Hills and continue on with the success they were having here,” said WNC softball coach Leah Wentworth.
By signing both WNC sophomores, the Yellow Jackets are extending a playing relationship that began when Sakuma and Lesniak played their first collegiate season at College of Southern Nevada in Henderson.
“Lauren and Pamela have played ball together a really long time, and they were hoping to transition to the next level together,” Wentworth said. “This all happened at the right time for them. The coach came out for a tryout, was impressed and wanted to take both of them.”
Lane Leedy, the Yellow Jackets’ second-year coach, won over Lesniak, as did the program’s progress over the past season.
“I’m very excited but really sad to leave,” Lesniak said. “Our coach is very helpful, welcoming and nice, and I think that the team is going to get better every year.”
Lesniak provided the Wildcats with leadership and solid play behind the plate and a consistent power-hitting presence on offense.
“I learned a lot from beginning to the end, and toward the end, we really picked it up and got some good wins,” Lesniak said. “I really learned a lot about being a leader on the team, and, as a starting catcher, I learned a lot about how to call pitches and everything.”
In handling one of the most demanding positions on the field, Lesniak committed just one error in 142 chances and threw out 10 runners in 22 stolen base attempts. Lesniak led the Wildcats in homers (seven), slugging average (.601), extra-base hits (19) and doubles (12). She was second on the team in batting average (.362), RBI (36) and total bases (83).
“I never had a catcher who had that level of (command) that she had keeping runners honest and allowing minimal passed balls,” said Wentworth, also noting the catcher’s communication skills with pitchers and aptitude at calling games. “She is a smart player and has a great work ethic. Lauren’s always putting in extra work offensively, has a good game plan at the plate and is really good at executing it as well.”
Sakuma blossomed as the season wore on, finding a home in center field.
“We didn’t see that coming,” Wentworth said.
Like Lesniak, she rarely made a miscue, committing only two errors in 59 chances.
Offensively, Sakuma developed into one of the Wildcats’ most reliable hitters. Sakuma’s .329 batting average was third on the team and her .482 slugging and .400 on-base averages were third and fourth, respectively, among Wildcats. She also slugged three homers and drove in 17 runs.
“Her bat came on really strong at the end,” Wentworth said. “Pamela has a great offensive base to do some really great things for them next year.”
In 2015, Beck, a member of WNC’s 2013 and 2014 teams, started 15 games in the circle for the Yellow Jackets. She tossed a team-high four complete games and earned a staff-best five victories.