Freshman Nicole Mendes has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career, the conference announced Tuesday.
Mendes kept up her torrid hitting last week, leading No. 13/12 Oklahoma to a 4-0 record at the College Preview Tournament. She led the Sooners in triples (1), home runs (2), total bases (15) and slugging (1.071) and tied for the team lead in RBI (4). She hit .429 (6-14) with five runs scored and a .467 on-base percentage.
The Sooners have now won Big 12 honors each of the last three weeks as junior Paige Parker was named Pitcher of the Week on March 14 and sophomore Sydney Romero and freshman Mariah Lopez swept honors last week. It’s the first time since March of 2015 that OU earned honors at least three weeks in a row from the Big 12.
Trailing Mississippi State 1-0 in the third inning Friday night, Mendes hit the game-tying triple and then scored the go-ahead run as the Sooners beat the Bulldogs 5-3. In a 5-1 win over Louisiana Tech Saturday, Mendes was 3-4 including a double and the first home run of her career. It was her fourth game this year with at least three hits, the most of any Sooner on the team.
The Houston, Texas, native homered again in a 5-2 victory over UAB on Saturday as she made her first career start in the pitching circle. She helped her own cause by leading off the game with a bunt single and stealing second, helping lead to the game’s first run. In the second inning, she drilled a two-run homer, her second in as many games. In a rematch against UAB Sunday, Mendes did not get a hit but she did walk and score a run in a 15-0, five-inning shutout over the Blazers.
Mendes entered the starting lineup for the Sooners on March 10 in the second game of a doubleheader vs. Omaha and hasn’t left since. Over the last 14 games, in which she has started seven games in both right field and as the designated player and made one start each in left field and as the pitcher, she leads the team in average (.469), hits (23), triples (3), stolen bases (7) and OBP (.509) and tied for the lead in runs (17).
She has hit safely in 12 of the 14 games, including three games with three hits and a four-hit game at Loyola Marymount where she had two doubles and a triple and scored three runs.