Villarreal Receives Academic Momentum Award December 14th, 2011 COLLEGE STATION, Texas Texas A&M softball senior Natalie Villarreal was selected to the Academic Momentum Award First Team by Scholar Baller and the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS), the award sponsors announced recently. Villarreal (Frisco, Texas) joined a group of 17 male and female student‐athletes on the AMA first team and was the only softball player and Big 12 athlete on the first‐ team list. The senior Agricultural Leadership and Development major overcame adversity in the classroom while excelling on the playing field to deserve the honor. After an outstanding freshman season in which she started in each of the Aggies' contests at second base and a sophomore campaign that ended with a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, Villarreal withdrew from the university due to academic struggles. A semester away from the diamond was enough to convince the star infielder that she belonged at A&M. In January of 2010 she began online classes through another institution to regain eligibility. That summer Villarreal returned to Aggieland and earned 14 credit hours through classes on campus. Still needing a grade‐point‐ average (GPA) boost, the left‐handed second baseman worked hard to become eligible for the spring with a 13‐hour fall schedule. The work paid off as Villarreal earned an award‐worthy 3.307 GPA that semester and began training with the Aggies again last January. In her redshirt junior season, Villarreal was named to the All‐Big 12 First Team and the All‐Region Second Team, and was again awarded the league's top defensive honor for her prowess in the middle infield. This is her first AMA honor. The Aggie softball team turns on the lights to a competitive 2012 campaign at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 10 against 2011 NCAA Super Regional competitor Stanford. The Aggies will play several NCAA Tournament teams this spring, and will host three tournaments at the Aggie Softball Complex. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com.