Softball preview: Rams finish up California road trip

March 14, 2012

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Thursday...
Before heading to Sacramento for the Capital Classic Softball Tournament, the Rams will take on the Pacific Tigers at 3:30 p.m. MT, weather permitting, after the Wednesday matchup between the two schools was postponed due to rain.

Capital Classic Softball Tournament...
CSU will wrap up its 12-game California road trip in Sacramento at the Capital Classic Softball Tournament, hosted by Sacramento State. The Rams will face their fourth nationally-ranked opponent of the season in No. 14/15 Louisville on Friday at 11 a.m. MT, followed by a game against Sacramento State at 1 p.m. MT. Saturday, the Rams are slated to face Princeton at 2 p.m. MT. The final game of the road trip will take place at 10 a.m. MT, when the Rams take on the Akron Zips.


Previously...
Coming off a 3-2 performance in their first home tournament of the season, the Rams set off for California to begin a 12-game swing over the course of nine days. They opened the road trip on Friday at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic. CSU got the tournament started on a winning note, notching wins against Cal Poly, 5-2, and James Madison, 6-5, on the first day of play. Pitchers Kacie McCarthy and Kailey Snyder both delivered complete game performances to earn their sixth and second wins of the season, respectively. On Day 2, however, the Rams dropped both decisions by falling to Ole Miss, 5-2, and later to host Stanford, then ranked No. 10 in the nation, 11-0 in five innings. The Cardinal pitching staff held the Rams to just one hit, a single from sophomore Ashlie Ortega. Senior pitcher Kelli Eubanks took the loss for CSU, bringing her record to 1-5 on the season. The Rams finished the tournament with a win against San Jose State on Sunday, capped off by a two-run single from freshman Shae Rodriguez to extend the Rams’ lead to 3-0. The Spartans would later score one, but CSU walked away with the win, 3-1. Snyder pitched her second complete game of the weekend, holding the Spartans to three hits and striking out five to notch her third win of the season. Snyder is currently the only pitcher with no losses. After a day off, the Rams headed to Davis to take on the UC Davis Aggies, but rainy conditions forced the Rams’ first cancellation of the season. On Wednesday, the wet weather prevented play for the second day in a row when the Rams’ matchup with Pacific was postponed until Thursday at 3:30 p.m. MT. CSU was also scheduled to take on Butler, but due to the Bulldogs’ travel schedule, the matchup was cancelled.


Louisville...
The No. 14/15 Cardinals remain undefeated and currently stand at 21-0 this season, their most recent win coming in a win against Western Kentucky on Wednesday. Prior to that win, the Cardinals picked up two wins in a doubleheader sweep against Illinois State. Both Louisville’s offense and pitching are forces to be reckoned with; through 21 games, the Cardinals are batting .349 as a team and have scored at least eight runs in eight contests. They have scored enough to end the game early via the eight-run rule six times this season. On the pitching side, the most runs given up in a single game is six, which came 7-6 win against Hofstra on Feb. 18. The pitching staff’s combined ERA is currently 1.06, and it has shut out the opponent 11 out of 21 times.


Sacramento State...
Host Sacramento State enters the tournament this weekend with a 14-8 overall record, looking to extend a seven-game winning streak. The streak began March 4 with a 6-0 win over Delaware, followed by two wins apiece against Nevada, Idaho State and UC Davis. On Tuesday, senior catcher Marissa Navarro was named Pacific Coast Softball Conference Coastal Division co-Player of the Week. Navarro hit .476 with two home runs and 11 RBI across four games over the past week and now ranks second on the team in batting average (.358). The previous week’s Player of the Week honors went to senior Alyssa Nakken, who hit.556 with seven RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage over six games.


Princeton...
The Tigers are currently 2-7 this season. They picked up their second win on Sunday against Rhode Island, 9-4, thanks to an eight-run fourth inning with three home runs. Their first win came on March 3 with a 5-2 victory over Iona. Princeton’s 2012 roster returns nine of 13 players from the 2011 squad, which finished the season with a 16-26 overall record and a 7-13 record in the Ivy League. Junior Lizzy Pierce and senior Kelsey VandeBergh, both of whom garnered first-team all-Ivy honors and were top hitters last year, return to the lineup in 2012.

Akron...
The Zips come off a 3-0 win against Wagner to enter the tournament with a 10-9 record. Freshman first-baseman Rachael Ratcliffe currently leads the team with a .429 batting average and also leads the squad in RBI (14), home runs (4), on-base percentage (.540) and slugging percentage (.735). Akron finished the 2011 season with a 24-24 record and an 8-13 record in conference play, good for fourth place in the Mid-American Conference. Head Coach Julie Jones returns for her sixth season at the helm of the program.

Strength of schedule...
Currently, six of the Rams’ 2012 opponents are ranked or receiving votes in the two national softball polls, including Mountain West rival New Mexico, which currently sits at No. 24. The Rams’ current record against ranked opponents is 0-4, the most recent decision coming in an 11-0 loss in five innings against then-No. 10 Stanford on March 10. Thursday, CSU will face Pacific, which received four votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll. Friday, CSU will take on No. 20 Louisville. The undefeated Cardinals enter the weekend tournament with a 21-0 record.

Hitting streaks...
Sophomore Ashlie Ortega went 9-for-19 between March 2 and 4 at the Colorado State Classic, hitting safely in all five games to extend her hitting streak at the time to nine games. Ortega went hitless against Cal Poly to bring the streak to an end, but she currently holds the longest overall hiting streak on the team. Freshman Taylor Hutton holds the longest current hitting streak with five games. Hutton hit safely in her last five starts, including two hits and one RBI apiece against Cal Poly and James Madison.

Sunday blues no more...
This past Sunday, the Rams picked up their first win on a Sunday all season, beating San Jose State, 3-1. Their previous Sunday opponents included Texas, New Mexico State, Ohio State, Oregon State and Weber State; the Rams lost all five matchups by a combined 31-16 margin. This Sunday, the Rams face Akron.

Beefed-up bullpen...
Junior Kacie McCarthy, who transfered from Chico State, has proven to be an asset to the CSU pitching staff, as she currently leads the staff in wins (6), strikeouts (47), innings pitched (56.1) and lowest ERA (5.27). McCarthy made two starts at the Stanford tournament in Palo Alto Calif., including a complete game against Cal Poly in which she held the Mustangs to five hits and two runs in a 5-2 CSU win. She also pitched 3.1 innings against Ole Miss, giving up five runs. The two performances brought McCarthy’s ERA from 6.07 down to 5.27. Junior Kailey Snyder also made two starts at the tournament, both complete games against James Madison and San Jose State. Between the two games, Snyder held the opponents to six total runs and 12 hits, striking out seven to help lead the Rams to victories in both contests. With the two wins, Snyder’s record improved to 3-0. She is currently the only pitcher on the staff who has not received a losing decision.

Underclassmen...
With five freshmen and eight sophomores on the team, CSU’s underclassmen continue to produce. A freshman or sophomore currently leads the team in: batting average (Fr. Taylor Hutton, .368), slugging percentage (So. Cassy Mosser, .550), on-base percentage (Fr. Haley David, .488), runs scored (So. Ashlie Ortega, 20), hits (Ortega, 28), RBI (Fr. Shae Rodriguez, 24), doubles (Ortega and So. Alysa Greckel, 7) home runs (So. Chelsea Biglow, 4), walks (So. Emily Pohl, 24) and total bases (Ortega, 40).

Scoring early...
This season, the Rams have scored the most runs in the second inning, with 29 of their 128 total runs coming in that frame. Their second-highest scoring inning has been the first (23). When scoring first, the Rams are 6-4.

Consistent starters...
Sophomores Ashlie Ortega, Kendal Butterfield, Alysa Greckel and Chelsea Biglow and freshman Shae Rodriguez are the only players to have started all 25 of CSU’s games this season.