The freshman hit .333 with five RBI and two home runs in five games at the Marucci Desert Classic


LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – A little over a week into her first collegiate season, UNLV softball freshman shortstop Samantha Diaz has earned her first career Mountain West Softball Player of the Week honor, the league office announced Wednesday.

The Rancho Cucamonga, California, native was instrumental in helping the Rebels go 4-1 from Friday to Sunday at the Marucci Desert Classic, which included sparking a furious late comeback in an eventual 6-5 extra-inning victory over Buffalo Friday night. For the weekend, the freshman went 5-of-15 (.333) with five RBI, five runs scored, one double and the first two home runs of her collegiate career. The first was a memorable one. With UNLV trailing the Bulls 5-2 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Diaz stepped to the plate with two on and sent a towering shot to left field to even the score at five, giving the Scarlet and Gray the momentum in what ended up being a walk-off win in the bottom of the next inning. She almost did it again the following night, crushing a two-run homer to bring the Rebels with one of UTEP in the last frame, but they ultimately came up just short in the narrow 8-7 loss. Despite the defeat, Diaz was stellar against the Miners, going 3-for-4 with two RBI, two runs scored, one double and the home run. Diaz recorded at least one hit in four-of-five games and added two putouts and five assists as the starting shortstop.

Diaz is the first Rebel to earn a league honor since former pitcher Morgan Ettinger was selected as the pitcher of the week on Feb. 21 last season, while it marks the first player of the week honor for UNLV softball since Garie Blando earned the award on March 15, 2016.

UNLV (8-3) will go on the road for the first time this season, heading to the Houston Invitational where they will play five games between Feb. 21-23, beginning with Syracuse on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. PT.