March 3, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State returns home to host its annual tournament this week beginning on Thursday, March 5 and running till Sunday, March 8. The tournament, formerly known as the Bingham Toyota Classic has a new sponsor this season and is now called the Bayer CropScience Classic. This is the 12th year of the tournament at Bulldog Diamond. Fresno State boasts four tournament titles and a 45-13 record.
Fresno State is 8-6 on the season and is ranked No. 21 and No. 24 in the respective polls this week.
Last year, Houston was the tournament champion. This year's tournament features Cal, BYU, Northern Illinois and Providence. Only BYU has competed in the tournament before and has an 8-14 record in two appearances with a third place finish. A tournament champion will be crowed and a trophy will go to the team with the best record. The runner-up will also receive a trophy. An MVP and an all-tournament team will also be named at the conclusion of the Fresno State vs. Cal game.
BYU also competed in the Mayfair Tournament in Lakewood, Calif., last weekend as they finished with a 3-1 record, defeating Iowa State, Wisconsin and Cal State Northridge and dropping a game to Long Beach State. The Cougars will make their third appearance in the Bulldogs tournament. They are .500 on the season at 10-10 and previously were receiving votes in both of the top 25 polls. They are led by Andrea Ramirez who is batting .400 and have five other batters batting over .300. Both of the Cougar pitchers, Paige Affleck and Christie Zinanti have 5-5 records in the circle. Fresno State leads the overall series between the teams that began in 2000, with a 5-1 record. The two last met in the 2007 season. BYU's only win over the `Dogs was a 6-4 victory back in 2003. Fresno State has three shutouts in its five wins over the Cougars.
Providence College and the Bulldogs will meet for the first time in the history of the two programs. The Friars have a 2-6 overall record and a 0-2 road record. They are led by Christy Becker at the plate with nine hits and a .375 batting average. In the circle for the Friars, Alicia Grosso leads the team with a 1.64 ERA and a 1-2 record. They went 1-3 last weekend at the Florida International Tournament with a win over Fordham and dropped games to FIU, No. 12/13 Missouri and Florida Atlantic.
Scouting Northern Illinois
The Huskies will visit Bulldog Diamond for the first time ever and face the Bulldogs for just the second time. In the first meeting back in 1993, Fresno State handed the Huskies a 15-0 loss. Northern Illinois is 2-5 on the year and is led by Katie Colby with a .667 batting average. The Huskies picked up two wins last week in Birmingham, Ala., including a 5-3 win over Houston who is receiving votes in both polls.
Cal and Fresno State have a storied rivalry dating back to 1978 with the `Dogs leading the series 62-42. Cal defeated the `Dogs twice last season in the NCAA Fresno Regional at Bulldog Diamond ending Fresno State's season in the regional championship with a 7-6 extra inning victory. This season, Cal is 14-3 overall and 1-1 on the road. They are ranked No. 9 by the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 10 in the USA Today/ NFCA poll. They have a three-game win streak over Cal State Fullerton, Nevada and UC Riverside. Valerie Ariota leads the Golden Bears pitching staff with a perfect 5-0 record and a 1.05 ERA. At the plate, Cal has six batters hitting .300 or better.
Giveaway Galore Weekend
Fans that turn out for this week's Fresno State tournament games will be loaded up with giveaways. The first day of the tournament, the Bulldogs 7 p.m. game Thursday night vs. BYU will feature schedule magnets. The first 2,500 fans to enter the gates will receive one. On Friday for the Bulldogs 7 p.m. game vs. Providence, the first 1,000 fans will receive a free poster. The final game vs. Cal on Sunday at 1 p.m. will be rally towel day. The first 750 fans at Bulldog Diamond will receive one.
Youth Sign-Up Day
It's ASA youth softball sign-up day at Bulldog Diamond on Saturday. Kids ages 14-under are invited to sign-up at tables outside of the field. Everyone that signs up will receive a $1.00 voucher for both of the Bulldogs games that day. The first kid to sign up will get to throw out the first pitch at the Bulldogs 5 p.m. game vs. Northern Illinois.
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The `Dogs' host the Bayer CropScience Classic March 5-8 at Bulldog Diamond. The `Dogs host BYU Thursday at 7 pm. Schedule magnets will be given to early arriving fans. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting the Bulldog Ticket Office, calling 278-DOGS or online at gobulldogs.com.
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