Feb. 8, 2012 By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
Fresno State Kick-Off Tournament
Opening Weekend of the 2012 Season - Fresno State (0-0)
Dates: Feb. 9-12, 2012
Site: Bulldog Diamond (3,288); Fresno, Calif.
Radio: ESPN2 790 AM (Guy Haberman)
Live Stats: Gametracker Links
Video Streaming: GoBulldogs.com/AllAccess
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team opens the 2012 season on Thursday with the first of five games over the weekend as a part of the Fresno State Kick-Off Tournament the `Dogs are hosting at Bulldog Diamond.
Toledo, North Dakota State, UC Riverside, Sacramento State and Long Beach State are all traveling to Fresno for the opening weekend festivities.
The Bulldogs kick-off the season at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Toledo and on Friday, also at 7 p.m., Fresno State faces North Dakota State for the first time in program history. The `Dogs play a pair of games on Saturday, at 2 p.m. vs. UC Riverside and at 4:15 p.m. against Sacramento State, before closing out the tournament against Long Beach State at on Sunday at 2 p.m.
ESPN2 790 AM is broadcasting all five Fresno State games this weekend with Guy Haberman delivering the action from Bulldog Diamond. Live stats of all games in the Fresno State Kick-Off Tournament are available at GoBulldogs.com, where video streaming of Frsno State's games is also available under All-Access.
Several promotions are available this weekend. The first 1,200 fans into Thursday nights game will receive free Fresno State ice cream and on Friday fans wearing any type of baseball or softball jersey will get in for Free. Saturday begins a season-long Salute to Saturday's Wounded Warrior Project where anyone with a military ID will get in for free.
Fresno State begins the year with 10-straight home games and it has 35 home games on its 2012 schedule. The 10-straight home games to start the season are the most-ever at the start of a season in the 34-year history of the program.
"We're really excited our first 10 games are at home, and that's exciting for our fans," head coach Margie Wright said. "I'm looking forward to another team being on the other side of the field and find out what we're really made of."
Fresno State, which in 30 years of NCA Division I fastpitch softball is the nation's second-winningest program of all-time (1,442-490-1), returns five starters and 11 letterwinners off the 2011 team that went 35-19 and reached the Stanford Regional in the NCAA Tournament. That kept Fresno State's streak alive of being the only NCAA team to play in all 30 NCAA Tournaments.
Fresno State vs. the Field in the Kick-Off Tournament
TOLEDO: The Bulldogs are 5-0 all-time against the Rockets and the last time the two teams met was on March 10, 2007 in the Bulldog Classic. Fresno State won that game 9-0 in five innings behind a four-run second, a two-run third and three more runs in the fourth inning. Toledo has only scored two runs on the Bulldogs in the five meetings, with both of those runs coming in the first-ever game between the two schools (1988).
NORTH DAKOTA STATE: This will be the first-ever meeting between Fresno State and North Dakota State on the diamond. The two schools have only played one another in men's basketball, where the `Dogs hold a 3-1 series advantage. Fresno State's men's team traveled to NDSU on Nov. 28, 2011, but lost the hoops game 78-65.
UC RIVERSIDE: Fresno State owns a 8-1 record all-time against UC Riverside. The one loss in the series was a 3-2 loss in the first game ever played between the two schools on April 1, 2001. Fresno State came back and won the second game of the doubleheaders on that day back in 2001, 8-0, which is one of four shutouts the `Dogs have posted against UCR in the series. In fact, Riverside has only scored 10 runs in the nine-games of the series. The teams last met on Feb. 20, 2010 in the Stanford/Nike Invitational when Fresno State won 10-2 in five innings.
SACRAMENTO STATE: The Bulldogs lead the all-time series against Sacramento State 31-9 and enter the series having won 12-straight games over the hornets. Last year, Fresno State took both games of the doubleheader on opening day. Michelle Moses became the first Bulldog in program history to hit for the cycle in the first game that day, helping lead the `Dogs to a 5-4, 11-inning victory. Fresno State won the second game that day 7-4 behind a two-run homer from Moses and a two-hit game with two runs scored from Brooke Ortiz.
LONG BEACH STATE: Fresno State is 34-14 all-time against Long Beach State with the last meeting between the schools coming on March 5, 2011 in the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, Calif. The 49ers won that game 6-5 being a three-run bottom of the seventh to overcome Fresno State's 5-3 lead. The Bulldogs own a 6-2 record against Long Beach State since 2000, with the second loss coming in the first of two games between the schools in 2009. That 8-0 defeat on March 1, 2009 in the Mayfair Tournament ended a seven-game winning streak for the `Dogs that started back in 1997.
Bulldogs Picked as Preseason Favorite to Win the WAC in Last Season in League
The Fresno State softball team was selected by the coaches in the Western Athletic Conference preseason poll to win the 2012 WAC regular-season crown. This marks the 14th time in the last 17 years that the Bulldogs have been the preseason favorite to win the title. The 2012 season will mark Fresno State's last year in the WAC, as the `Dogs move to the Mountain West Conference next season. Fresno State has been a member of the WAC since 1993. In the 19 years in the WAC, the Bulldogs have posted a 336-82 (.804) conference record and have won 10 WAC titles and three WAC Tournament championships. Last year, Fresno State finished second in the WAC with a 15-6 league record. The Bulldogs' last regular season championship was in 2009, and the seven seniors on the 2012 roster are shooting for one more WAC crown in their last go-around in the league.
Three Bulldogs Named to 2012 Preseason All-WAC Team
The Bulldogs landed three players on the 2012 Preseason All-WAC team. Seniors Michelle Moses and Andrea Ortega along with sophomore Brooke Ortiz made the list and Fresno State's three selections tied with New Mexico State for the second-most in the conference. Hawai'i led the league with four. Moses was a first-team All-WAC selection in 2011 while Ortega and Ortiz were named to the All-WAC second team in 2011.
Moses/Oakes Set to Embark On Senior Seasons
Seniors Michelle Moses and Mackenzie Oakes are ready to anchor the Bulldogs in the circle in 2012. Last year, either Moses or Oakes was the starting pitcher in 53-of-54 games on the season and the two have combined to start in 106 games with 148 appearances over their careers. Oakes has a 2.56 career ERA and a 37-16 record. Last year, Oakes was third in the WAC and led the team with 18 victories in the circle. Opposing batters have hit just .254 off of her in her career.
Moses has a 2.47 career ERA with a 28-17 record over the last three years. She is nine strikeouts away from becoming the 13th Bulldog in program history to record 400 strikeouts in a career. Moses has held opposing batters to a .210 average over the last three years, including a .197 mark as a sophomore in 2010 when she went 12-3 and had a career-low 2.07 ERA. Last year, Moses went 16-12 in 32 starts with a 2.47 ERA. She'll also be Fresno State's leader at the plate. Her 41 career home runs rank No. 2 in school history and she is ninth with 133 RBIs.
Another Senior Leader
Senior outfielder Andrea Ortega enters her fifth season as a Bulldog. After only playing in six games in 2009, a year she received a medical redshirt, Ortega has since played in 114 games over the last two years and in 169 games overall in her career. A consistent hitter, her .315 career batting average is the highest among all returning players and she has a .469 career slugging percentage. She needs just four more doubles to crack the top 10 for the most in school history and she has 46 career extra-base hits (32 doubles, three doubles, 11 home runs). Over her career she has proven to be very difficult to strike out, as she has gone down on strikes just 46 times in 463 career at-bats (just under 10 percent of the time).
Unique Makeup of 2012 Team
Fresno State is going to be led by a group of seven seniors this year, but you'll also see a mix of talented freshmen on the diamond. Freshmen to look out for include Brenna Moss in center field and Maria Sio at shortstop. Moss broke the all-time California state record for hits (244) and runs scored (187) during her prep career at Bakersfield's North High School while Sio sported impressive numbers at the plate as well, batting .346 as a senior with 68 RBIs and six home runs. Freshman Michelle Solomon will likely split time at third bast with sophomore Vonnie Martin. Then, another newcomer to the Bulldog team who is expected to make an impact this season is sophomore transfer Stesha Brazil. Brazil started 56 games at first bast as a freshman at Houston last year before transferring to Fresno State over the summer. She will play both corner spots in the infield and adds some more power to the Bulldog lineup. Last year when Fresno State played Houston in the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, Brazil hit a two-run home run to help the Cougars beat the Bulldogs, 4-3, on March 5. Fresno State will be happy to have her belting homers this year for the Bulldogs instead of against them.
Home Sweet Home
Fresno State opens the season with a program record 10-straight games to begin the year and the Bulldogs have 35 home games in all on the 2012 schedule. You have to go back to 2003 to find the last time Fresno State played 35 home games, and it only got to that number by hosting a NCAA Regional. Fresno State, which owns a 389-79 (.831) record at Bulldog Diamond since it was built in 1996, has averaged 26 regular-season home games over the previous 10 years with just 18 last year.
"We Are Your Team" - ESPN2 790 AM is your home for Fresno State Softball and you can always stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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