Jan. 8, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team holds its first practice of the spring on Monday, as the Bulldogs begin preparations for the 2012 season and their 27th year under the direction of head coach Margie Wright.
Fresno State, which plays its first 10 games of the season at home and sports 35 home games on its schedule, will have 32 days from the first practice until the first game on Feb. 9 when the Bulldogs begin the year by hosting the Fresno State Kickoff-Off Tournament.
"I'm very excited for practice on Monday and I know the players are too," Wright said. "After you practice all fall, it's kind of like you don't see the games in the near future. When you come back for the first 10 days of practice (after winter break), it is reality and so everybody is very excited about it."
The Bulldogs return 11 letterwinners and five starters off their 2011 team that went 35-19 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the 30th-straight season, which is an all-time NCAA record.
"Our returners, probably more so than in the last few years, really bring a lot of experience back into our program," Wright said. "They've been through three regional championships and came within one or two runs of being able to go to the super regionals, so that in itself and their desire to want to go one step further - when you have eight of them - that's a pretty big majority."
Moses and Oakes, both seniors, are set to anchor down the pitching staff that Wright feels will be very strong this season. Moses was a third-team Easton Sports Inc. All-American last year, as she led the team in RBIs (39), home runs (12) and she also was fourth in the WAC with 224 strikeouts while finishing with a 16-12 record in the circle.
Oakes led the team with 18 victories in 31 appearances and 21 games started. Ortega and Ortiz both earned all-conference accolades a year ago and were the top two hitters on the team.
Wright has added nine newcomers to the team this year and feels the incoming players will contribute immediately.
"I think our nine newcomers are going to play," Wright said. "They all bring something really good to the program, whether it's as a designated player or a position player."
Houston transfer Stesha Brazil, a sophomore, is a proven newcomer in the infield as she started 56 games for the Cougars a year ago while freshman outfielder Brenna Moss comes in highly acclaimed out of Bakersfield's North High School.
Fresno State, which is the second-winningest program of all-time in NCAA Division I fastpitch softball, looks this year to get over the hump and make it past the NCAA Regionals.
That's the goal set by Wright and the eight-member senior class and the first step toward reaching it begins Monday with the start of practice.
"We Are Your Team" - You can always stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook (fresnostateathletics) and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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