'Dogs Start Season in Kajikawa Classic in Tempe
Feb. 3, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
THIS WEEK'S BULLDOG SOFTBALL ACTION
Friday, Feb. 7
Saturday, Feb. 8
Sunday, Feb. 9
BULLDOGS KICK OFF 37TH SEASON IN TEMPE
The `Dogs kicks off the tournament vs. Super Regional returnee and No. 8 Oregon, and two of its other games are vs. NCAA Tournament returnee N.C. State and at Women's College World Series returnee and No. 7 Arizona State. Also slated in the three-day, five-game slate are Saturday tilts vs. Appalachian State and UC Riverside.
BREAKING DOWN THE FIELD
SIZING UP THE BULLDOGS IN 2014
Last year in Ford's first season, the Bulldogs went 30-24 overall and tied for second in the MW Conference with an 11-7 mark.
After 7-3 wins over UC Riverside each of the last two years, Fresno State sports a 10-game series win streak. In other most recent meetings, the `Ducks won in 2012 (5-4) on a seventh-inning comeback in Fresno, as did the Sun Devils (4-0) that spring as both advanced to the Women's College World Series in 2012.
2013 OPENING WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS
Among offensive highlights vs. UTEP, Vonnie Martin hit her first career grand slam in her first at-bat of 2013, and Brenna Moss added a base-clearing triple the same inning. Team-wise for the weekend, the `Dogs hit .304 with 41 hits four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBI.
WEEKEND SCOUTING REPORT
N.C. State (www.GoPack.com): The Wolfpack won last year's ACC Tournament title to earn its third-ever NCAA Tournament invitation and first since 2006 and `07. Among the team's 11 returning letterwinners, top offensive returnees include junior shortstop Renada Davis (.305, 58H, 10 2B, 26 HR, 51 RBI), sophomore first baseman Hanna Sommer (.297, 46H, 11 HR, 30 RBI) and senior catcher Kirsty Grant (.293, 43H, 10 2B, 6 HR). Junior right-hander Emily Weiman pitched 323.1 of the team's 369 innings last spring, and her season stats follow (1.97, 271 strikeouts, 79 walks, 267 hits, 10 shutouts, .219 opposing batting average). In 2013, head coach Shawn Rychcik became the first ACC softball coach to win a conference tourney in his/her first season, and last year's team set school records for homers (88), runs (266) and slugging (.491).
Appalachian State (www.AppStateSports.com): The Mountaineers return seven starters in the field and two key pitchers from last year's 31-22 squad that won the Southern Conference regular season title last year with a 17-7 mark. Junior catcher Sarah Warnock is the team's returning leader in batting (.376), slugging (.515) and hits (62). Among other returnees, other offensive leaders include senior first baseman Lindsay Loudermilk (37 RBI) and junior outfielder Dani Helchen (15 stolen bases). Head Coach Shae Wesley enters her fourth year at the helm after she was the 2009 National Junior Coach of the Year at Heartland CC (Normal, Ill.).
UC Riverside (www.GoHighlanders.com): The Highlanders went 20-35 last year and sported a 4-20 mark in the Big West. UCR lost its two top hitters from 2013 in Kayla White (.382, 65 H, 11 HR, 33 RBI) and Ariel Shore (.305, 51 H, 11 RBI), but still returns senior outfielder Dionne Anderson (.300, 45H, 7 2B). Last year, junior right-hander Alyssa Razo (9-15, 31G, 131.2 IP, 54 SO, 51 BB, 131.2 IP) led the team in wins, strikeouts and ERA, and sophomore right-hander Alyssa Ercolano (6-11, 5.12) led the team in appearances (33). Head Coach Linda Garza returns for her second season after a stint at Wright State that included a 2010 Horizon League Tournament title and NCAA Tournament invite.
No. 7 Arizona State (www.TheSunDevils.com): The Sun Devils return 10 starters and all four pitchers from last year's World Series advancers that finished second in the Pac-12 (16-8) and went 50-12 overall. All-Region senior outfielder Bailey Wigness led the team last year in hitting (.376), and other top returnees include All-America junior catcher Amber Freeman (.361, 66 H, 11 2B, 18 HR, 61 RBI), All-America senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (.358, 62 H, 11 2B, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 49 BB), junior first baseman Bethany Kemp (.331, 45 H, 9 HR) and All-Region junior third baseman Haley Steele (.330, 61 H, 14 2B, 12 HR). All-America senior right-hander Dallas Escobedo staked a 30-6 mark in 2013 (325 SO, 74 BB, 172 H, 250.2 IP), and senior right-hander Mackenzie Popescue was nearly a 20-game winner (19-6, 140.2 IP, 105 SO, 54 BB, 116H). First-year head coach Craig Nicholson spent the past seven seasons at Ball State and was the 2009 MAC Coach of the Year and led the Cardinals to an NCAA Tournament bid in 2010. Prior to that, he led Central Arizona to four national junior college titles and seven conference titles in his 11 seasons.
Individually, several `Dogs were also easy to spot on NCAA charts last spring, as junior outfielder Brenna Moss led the nation in triples per game (0.18 average) and stood 15th in stolen bases (0.67 p/g) and 72nd in the toughest to strike out category (1:16.3 at-bats).
Two others hitters stood top 100 - junior infielder Maria Sio (sacrifice hits, fourth, 0.35 p/g) and junior outfielder Michelle Solomon (triples, 95th, 3) - as well as a pair of sophomore pitchers, Jill Compton (shutouts, 35th, 7) and Hannah Harris (walks, 92nd, 1.81 p/7 innings).
ANOTHER STACKED SCHEDULE
In the opening months of the year, Fresno State will face another Super Regional advancer (Oregon), a seventh NCAA Regional Finalist (N.C. State) and five other NCAA tourney qualifiers (Arizona, BYU, Houston, San Diego State and San Jose State).
Overall, the `Dogs will play 17 contests against 12 squads that advanced to last year's 64-team NCAA tournament field (not to mention four teams that have combined for 12 national titles in their school histories).
ON TOP OF THE MW
In other MW stats, Moss stood second in runs (42), and ninth in hits (54), and others ranked top 10 included Brazil (homers, fourth, 10; putouts, fourth, 368; stolen bases, fourth, 15), Michelle Solomon (RBI, fifth, 38; triples, fifth, 3; stolen bases, eighth, 9), Brooke Ortiz (hitting, ninth, .361) and Whitney Smith (assists, second, 11; walks, ninth, 21).
On the MW pitching charts, all three `Dog returnees stood top 10 in multiple categories - sophomores Jill Compton (starts, second, 31; appearances, third, 39; strikeouts, fourth, 144; opposing batting, fourth, .242; innings, fourth, 193.2; wins, fifth, 15; ERA, seventh, 300), Hannah Harris (saves, first-tied, 2; ERA, fifth, 2.37; games finished, fifth, 10; games in relief, sixth, 10; opposing batting, seventh, .259; wins, ninth, 9) and Taylor Langdon (ERA, second, 1.92; games in relief, third, 13; games finished, third, 12; fewest walks allowed, third, 12; fewest hits allowed, eighth, 57).
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
Moss's nine triples was also second-best in `Dog history behind All-American Laura Berg (11, 1995), while two others stood top 15 in other season rolls - Maria Sio (sacrifices, 14th-tie, 19) and Vonnie Martin (hitting streak, eighth-tie, 14 games).
Sophomore pitcher Jill Compton also made history with the program's 70th no-hitter vs. St. Mary's last February. Her seven-inning, five-strikeout performance also made her the Bulldog freshman to achieve the feat since 2007.
Among other all-time Bulldog game bests, Moss's three stolen bases vs. New Mexico tied a school record.
ON PACE IN THE CLASSROOM
The group of senior infielder Brooke Ortiz, junior infielder Kelly Megee and catcher/infielder Taylor Green, sophomore pitcher/utility player Hannah Harris and Taylor Langdon and former senior outfielder Diane Runge were selected based on their +3.50 grade point averages for the 2012-13 academic year.
The six-member class tied the largest in Bulldog softball history, and are among 39 Fresno State players that have received similar honors since the 1997-98 school year. Runge and Ortiz are three- and two-time honorees and the 10th and 11th Bulldogs to claim multiple honors. In addition, Runge and Ortiz were CoSIDA Academic All-District First-Team choices in 2013 and `12, respectively.
Last spring, nine `Dogs picked up Academic All-Mountain West honors - Harris, Langdon, Megee, Ortiz, Runge, senior catcher/infielder Stesha Brazil and infielder/outfielder Vonnie Martin, junior center fielder Brenna Moss and sophomore infielder Whitney Smith.
Overall in school history, the softball team has racked up 108 academic all-conference honors since it began WAC play in 1993 and MW action in 2013.
PRIDE OF THE VALLEY
Looking northward, seven players matriculated from the Bay Area - freshmen Christina Rodriguez (Livingston), Niki Kaleialii (Oakley), M.J. Jimenez (Newark) and Kierra Willis (Pleasant Hill), sophomores Kiley Shae Aldridge (Lompoc) and Whitney Smith (Auburn) and junior Brooke Ortiz (Lodi).
Ten players hail from the nation's most fertile softball fields (Southern California) - freshmen Alanna Layton (Acton) and Liza Liddell (La Verne),sophomores Jill Compton (Oceano); Hannah Harris (Santa Barbara), Taylor Langdon (Glendora) and Paige Gumz (Chino Hills) and juniors Michelle Solomon (Beaumont) Maria Sio (Lake Forest), Kelly Megee (Riverside) and Taylor Green (Chino Hills).
The team's only non-California resident is senior Vonnie Martin (Plano, Texas) who is only a 22-hour 1,556-mile drive from Fresno.
2013 MW STANDINGS
Pl. Team MW Record Pct. Overall
1. San Diego State 13-5 .722 36-20
2. Fresno State 11-7 .611 30-24
2. Colorado State 11-7 25-24
4. Nevada 9-9 .500 30-23
4. Boise State 9-9 25-26
6. UNLV 7-11 .389 21-31
7. New Mexico 3-15 .167 21-35
2013 ALL-MW TEAMS
Player of the Year - Patrice Jackson, SDSU
! 2012 All-MW Selection; % 2011 All-MW Selection
FRESNO STATE QUICK FACTS
Softball Coaching Staff
Bulldog Softball History
2013 MW Team Rankings (NCAA Ranking if available)
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