Softball preview: Rams open season at Red Desert Classic

Feb. 7, 2013

Weekly Release 1

Game 1 (Red Desert Classic) Colorado State vs. (RV/RV) BYU
Feb. 7, 2013 | St. George, Utah | 1:30 p.m. MT

Game 2 (Red Desert Classic) Colorado State vs. Loyola Marymount
Feb. 7, 2013 | St. George, Utah | 4 p.m. MT

Game 3 (Red Desert Classic) Colorado State vs. Arkansas
Feb. 8, 2013 | St. George, Utah | 11 a.m. MT

Game 4 (Red Desert Classic) Colorado State vs. Utah State
Feb. 8, 2013 | St. George, Utah | 4 p.m. MT

Game 5 (Red Desert Classic) Colorado State vs. (--/RV) Oklahoma State
Feb. 9, 2013 | St. George, Utah | 11 a.m. MT

Coming up
The Colorado State softball program opens the 2013 season at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Rams will play five games in three days, matching up against a pair former Mountain West foe BYU, as well as future league member Utah State. The Rams will also face Loyola Marymount, Arkansas and Oklahoma State as part of the season-opening tournament.

Building on 2012 success
The Colorado State softball program enters the 2013 season poised to build on the success of the 2012 campaign. The Rams posted a 29-22 record last season, a 21-game improvement in the win column from Head Coach Jen Fisher’s first season (8-43 in 2011). The team, which returns 14 letterwinners and nine out of 10 starters and added a talented group of seven newcomers that, went 8-4 in the Mountain West, tying for second in the league standings.

Rams second in MW Preseason Poll
The Colorado State softball program was picked to finish second in the Mountain West standings in the leagues’ preseason coaches poll release on Feb. 5. The Rams were one of three teams to receive a first-place vote, joining preseason favorite San Diego State and Boise State, who was picked to finish fourth. Below is a look at the MW preseason projections:

Rank Team (first-place votes) Points
1. San Diego State (5) 35
2. Colorado State (1) 28
3. Fresno State 26
4. Boise State (1) 23
5. New Mexico 15
6. UNLV 12
7. Nevada 8

Returning all-conference performers
The Rams return four all-Mountain West performers from 2012, including conference Pitcher of the Year  senior Kacie McCarthy. Also returning after all-league seasons are a trio of juniors in third baseman Chelsea Biglow, shortstop Ashlie Ortega and catcher Emily Pohl. In addition to the player honors, Rams’ head coach Jen Fisher was also named MW Coach of the Year in 2012.

Streaking Rams
The Colorado State softball team opens play this week at the Red Desert Classic looking to carry over the momentum built by a strong finish to the 2012 season. The Rams closed the 2012 campaign with seven consecutive wins and victories in 10 of their last 11 month of the season.

Rams in the MW rankings
Several of Colorado State’s retuning players ranked among the Mountain West’s best in 2012:
Ashlie Ortega placed into five categories: Second in at bats (185), tied for second with 107 assists, third in plate appearances (207), fifth in hits (66) and fifth in doubles (12).
• Kacie McCarthy placed into five categories: first for number of batters struck out looking (49), second for number of wins (17), third for opposing batting average (.247), fifth in innings pitched (151.2) and fifth in batters struck out (105).
• Alysa Greckel placed into four categories: tied for third for number of doubles (14), fourth for number of walks (26), fourth for number of chances (349), and fourth for number of putouts (334).
Emily Pohl placed into two categories: first in walks (41), and third with 11 players caught stealing.
• Chelsea Biglow placed into one category, earning fourth for number of runs batted in (45).
• Kendal Butterfield placed into one category, tying fourth with seven sacrifice bunts.

Tough competition
The 2013 Colorado State softball team will face one of the toughest schedules in recent program history. The Rams will face off against eight teams receiving votes in the NFCA and USA Softball top-25 polls. Three teams on the Rams’ schedule are ranked in the top-17 in the preseason rankings, as CSU is slated to match up against No. 9/8 Georgia (Feb. 21 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic), No. 16/16 Washington (March 3 in the Colorado State Classic) and No. 17/17 Texas A&M (April 5-7 in a three-game series in College Station, Texas). The Rams open the season at the Red Desert Classic against a pair of teams - BYU and Oklahoma State - that are receiving votes in the rankings. Texas Tech (Feb. 15 at the Troy Cox Classic), Oregon State (Feb. 21 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic), and UMass (March 16 at the San Diego Classic II) are also receiving preseason top-25 votes. 

Returning production
The 2013 Colorado State Rams return a majority of the team’s offensive and pitching production, having lost just two seniors - outfielder Lyssa Roberts and pitcher Kelli Eubanks - to graduation. Offensively, the Rams return 90 percent of their runs, 88 percent of their hits, 91 percent of the team’s doubles, 89 percent of triples, 95 percent of home runs and 94 percent of RBIs from last season. In the circle, the Rams bring back 89 percent of their wins and 81 percent of their strikeouts. 

Rams in the national rankings
The 2012 Rams ranked among the national leaders in a number of categories, placing in the top 50 in the nation in five team categories: Doubles per game (24th, 1.37), runs per game (29th, 5.64), batting average (38th, .294) and slugging percentage (44th, .438). Individually, four Rams ranked in the top 100 nationally. Emily Pohl was 12th in the NCAA in walks per game (0.82), Alysa Greckel came in at 47 in doubles per game (0.28), Chelsea Biglow was rated 57th in RBI per game (0.88) and Shae Rodriguez was just behind Biglow with 0.8 runs batted in per contest. 

Rams vs. the tournament field
The Rams will play five games in three days this weekend against BYU, Loyola Marymount, Arkansas, Utah State and Oklahoma State. Here is a look at the Rams’ competition:
• BYU posted a 45-15 record in 2012 and returns 14 letterwinners, including six starters in 2013. The Cougars were picked to finish first in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference presesaon poll.
• Loyola Marymount notched a 32-21 record in 2012 and returns 13 letterwinners, including 10 starters in 2013. The Lions were picked to finish second in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference presesaon poll. • Arkansas went 29-28 on the diamond in 2012 and returns 15 letterwinners in 2013. The Razorbacks posted a 7-21 record and finished in the SEC last season and were picked to finish fourth in the league’s Western Division.
• Utah State posted a 17-36 record in 2012 and returns eight starters in 2013. The Aggies were picked to finish sixth in their final season in the Western Athletic Conference before joining the Mountain West in 2014.
• Oklahoma State finished the 2012 campaign with a 25-26 record and returns 12 letterwinners, including eight starters in 2013. The Cowboys were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 presesaon poll.

Up next
The Rams return to the diamond Feb. 15-17 for five games in three days at the Troy Cox Classic, hosted by New Mexico State, in Las Cruces, N.M. The Rams will face Penn State, Texas Tech, New Mexico State (twice) and UMKC.