CWU's Holtman wins NCAA Sportsmanship Award - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU's Holtman wins NCAA Sportsmanship Award

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. - The National Collegiate Athletic Association has chosen Central Washington University softball player Mallory Holtman (White Salmon, Wash./Columbia HS), as its female winner of the 2008 NCAA National Sportsmanship award.

Holtman, who graduated from CWU in 2008 with a degree in business administration, was chosen the overall winner out of all three NCAA divisions. Central is part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), which is a member of the NCAA Division II program.

"Mallory is a wonderful person, a great student-athlete and a perfect role model," said Jack Bishop, CWU athletic director. "I don't think there's a better person to represent our athletic department than Mallory." Holtman became somewhat of an instant celebrity after she, and teammate Liz Wallace (Florence, Mont./Florence-Carlton HS), performed a simple act of sportsmanship during a home softball game at Central last April.

The unforgettable moment happened when Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky hit her first ever home run. As she rounded first base, she missed the bag. When she turned around to touch it, she went down in pain with a major knee injury. If Oregon put in a pinch runner, Tucholsky's home run would be taken away. That's when Holtman spoke up and asked if she could carry the injured opponent around the bases. Wallace joined in and together the girls gently lifted Tucholsky and carried her from base to base, allowing her to touch each one.

According to Bishop, "If you talk to Mallory, she'll say didn't do the right thing or wrong thing. She just did what she was supposed to do. Sarah did hit the ball out of the park. To Mallory, she deserved that home run."

Central ended up losing the game, along with any playoff hopes. But, the simple act of sportsmanship carried out on the field that day, which to the pair was "just the right thing to do," is a moment that will be talked about for many years to come.

The historic trot around the bases earned Holtman, Wallace and Tucholsky a coveted 2008 ESPY award in the "Best Moment" category. The girls have also made appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "SportsCenter," CBS' "The Early Show" and ESPN2's "First Take." In addition, they've made appearances at the Women's College World Series, the AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards, the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York, and they've thrown out the first pitch at a Mariners game at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Holtman, who was voted the 2008 GNAC Player-of-the-Year, is the only player to earn first team all-conference honors four times in GNAC softball history. Over the course of her five years at CWU, she has compiled a 3.31 grade point average, was a team captain, and assisted in coaching youth softball teams in the Ellensburg community.