Bulldogs O.C.-Bound for Judi Garman Classic
March 5, 2014
Stesha Brazil Feature Story (3/5/14)
FRESNO STATE SOFTBALL WEEKLY RELEASE
Thursday, March 6
Friday, March 7
Saturday, March 8
Sunday, March 9 - Live Radio (Both Games)
*Asterisk indicates home team
WHAT'S UP THIS WEEK
Two of this weekend's five foes were Women's College World Series advancers last year - No. 6 Washington (16-2) and No. 14 Nebraska (12-6), while Houston (10-6) was an NCAA Regional advancer last year and a conference runner-up. Long Beach State (11-6) also earned a postseason invite in 2012, and CS Fullerton (11-7) is a 25-time all-time NCAA Regional advancer.
Last weekend in the San Diego Classic, the `Dogs' five games were all rained out. The weekend before in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the `Dogs went 2-3 with its only losses vs. three top-25 foes and NCAA returnees - No. 2 Tennessee, No. 14 Arizona and No. 25 Texas.
RECENT TOURNAMENT RECAP
Fresno State also tied its season highs vs. Virginia in hits (16), doubles (2), total bases (21) and sacrifice hits (2).
In other tilts in its toughest non-conference trip, the `Dogs finished one run shy of last year's NCAA runner-up and No. 2 Tennessee (5-4), and also was edged by WCWS returnee and No. 25 Texas (5-0) and Super Regional returnee and No. 14 Arizona (8-0 (5)).
RECENT BULLDOG HEROES
Her team's weekend tournament showing was her best so far in 2014 after she led team in batting (.389) and hits (7), and stood third in RBI (3) and fourth in on-base percentage (.421).
Four other players topped .300 on the weekend - sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (.375, 3H, 2B), junior center fielder Brenna Moss (.333, 6H, 3B, 1 RBI, 1 SB), freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (.333, 4H, 6 BB, 1 SB) and senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (.308, 4H, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB).
Two Bulldogs climbed all-time school career lists on the trip - junior Brenna Moss (triples, fifth-tied, 15) and senior Stesha Brazil (homers, eighth, 20), and Moss hiked her second-best career stolen base total by one to 53.
Brazil hit two- and three-run homers vs. Virginia and LIU Brooklyn, and her four RBI each game tied her career high that she claimed twice earlier in 2014. Overall this year, she leads the team in RBI (22) and homers (4) and ranks second and fourth in the MW this week, respectively.
Moss tied her season high in hits vs. Virginia (3-for-5), and came up big with an assist at home plate in the seventh inning to prevent a Cavalier go-ahead run. In the finale, she laced her first triple of the year vs. No. 2 Tennessee in her 2-for-3 evening - her 15th three-bagger career-wise (and fifth-most all-time for Fresno State). This week in the MW, she stood top six in runs (third, 16) and stolen bases (third, 8).
Martin hit her second homer of the year vs. No. 2 Tennessee. She also posted multi-hit games vs. the Vols (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and LIU Brooklyn (2-for-3, RBI, BB) to give her four this season. This week, she stood fourth in the MW in walks (13) and ninth in on-base percentage (.500).
Smith hit safely in three of the team's contests vs. No. 14 Arizona (1-for-1, 2B, BB), LIU Brooklyn (1-for-2) and No. 2 Tennessee (1-for-2).
Willis logged her second multi-hit game vs. No. 2 Tennessee (2-for-3, BB), and reached base four times vs. Virginia with a team-season high three walks and single. Last weekend was also her first +.300 tourney mark (.333, 4-for-12, 6 BB).
Junior Taylor Green logged seventh-inning pinch-hit doubles vs. both Virginia and LIU Brooklyn, and season-wise leads the team in pinch hits (2) and pinch-hit batting average (.200).
Junior right fielder Michelle Solomon hit her team-leading third double of the year vs. Virginia (2-for-5, 2 RBI) en route to her fourth multi-RBI game. Conference-wise, she ranked fourth in the MW this week in runs (14).
Sophomore pitcher Jill Compton logged both of the team's wins in Cathedral City vs. Virginia (4.2 IP, 2 SO, 3 BB, 5 H, 2 ER) and LIU Brooklyn (7.0 IP, 5 SO, 5 BB, 4 H, 2R/0ER).
Already the MW leader in games finished (7), sophomore Taylor Langdon made her first start of the year vs. No. 2 Tennessee, and in her three innings, struck out one, walked one and allowed two runs.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
At the plate, five `Dogs were spotted offensively - senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (RBI, second, 22; homers, fourth, 4; total bases, eighth, 29), All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss (runs, third, 16; stolen bases, third, 8), junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (runs, fourth, 14), senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, fourth, 13; on-base percentage, 10th, .500) and freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (walks, sixth, 11).
Team-wise, the Bulldog pitchers still pace the conference in saves (4), and stood second in lowest opposing batting average (.255) and third in ERA (2.98).
SIZING UP THE `DOGS IN 2014
All four of last year's All-MW picks are also back - senior infielder Vonnie Martin, junior outfielder Brenna Moss and sophomore pitcher Jill Compton and catcher Paige Gumz - while senior infielder Brooke Ortiz was an All-WAC choice in 2011.
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.
NEW TO THE FOLD
Her first recruiting class is entirely from California and includes catcher Niki Kaleialii (Oakley), infielder Liza Liddell (La Verne), and outfielders Melissa Gilbert (Merced), M.J. Jimenez (Newark), Alanna Layton (Acton), Christina Rodriguez (Livingston) and Kierra Willis (Pleasant Hill).
Kaleialii helped led her team to three Bay Valley Athletic titles and was a two-time captain; Liddell was a four-time all-league selection at third base and shortstop; Jimenez was a three-time All-League pick; Gilbert helped lead Merced High School to three CCC titles; Layton was a CIF All-League First-Team choice; Rodriguez was a multiple all-conference choice; and Willis was a four-time first-team all-league selection.
Willis has started 14 games this year, while Liddell has made six appearances as a pinch-hitter and at second base and shortstop. Jimenez pinch-ran ran vs. No. 8 Oregon and Riverside, while Kaleialii saw time behind the plate vs. UC Riverside and No. 25 Texas.
In their most recent meetings, Fresno State topped Fullerton 2-0 and 8-0 in 2012; split with Nebraska in 2011 (1-0 win, 5-0 loss); and went 1-2 vs. LBSU in 2013 (8-0 win, 4-3 and 3-2 losses). UW won the teams' last contest in 2011 (10-0), and the `Dogs' most recent win vs. the Huskies came in 2005 (8-3). Houston held the upper hand in their games in 2011 (4-3) and 2008 (3-0, 1-0).
WEEKEND SCOUTING REPORT
Cal State Fullerton (www.FullertonTitans.com): CSF (11-7) comes off a third-place finish in the Big West last year (13-11) and 28-28 overall mark that featured and four wins over top-25 foes (Missouri, UCLA, Hawai'i and Virginia Tech). Among the team's six returning starters and three pitchers, first-team all-conference catcher and senior Ariel Tsuchiyama hit .323 (50 hits, 25 RBI) last year, and sophomore Jasmine Antunez was the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year (18-14, 2.58 ERA, 174 strikeouts). This year, sophomore transfer and third baseman Missy Taukeiaho ranks second in the Big West in runs scored (15) and has hit .351 in the leadoff slot. Second-year head Coach Kelly Ford previously served as the head coach at Mt. SAC Junior College and led the team to four state JC titles and a 455-102-1 record. She served as an assistant coach in prior seasons at Oklahoma, CS Fullerton and CS Northridge. As a player, she played two seasons at Central Arizona and two years at Oklahoma.
Houston (www.UHcougars.com): The Cougars (10-6) come off their third straight NCAA trip in 2013 after they went 41-20 and placed second in the Conference USA. Houston's top victories in 2014 have come vs. NCAA returnee Army (6-0, 6-2), Purdue (4-2), S.F. Austin (11-5, 7-3) and Columbia (17-0 (5), 5-4). The first four batters in the UH line up are all hitting +.300 this year - sophomore shortstop Selena Hernandez (.373, 3 HR), senior catcher Haley Outon (.341, 6 HR, 13 BB), sophomore center fielder Katie St. Pierre (.370, 4 SB) and junior second baseman Kayla Holland (.314). Outon leads the school career and season home run lists (48 / 22) and was a 2013 and `14 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List pick. With seven starts this year, senior Diedre Outon is 4-3 with two shutouts and one save and sports a 2.33 ERA. Fourteenth-year head coach Kyla Holas has led UH to 12 straight winning seasons, six NCAA Regional bids and NCAA Super Regional trips in 2008 and `11. She spent three years prior as an assistant coach at Florida and two seasons at Northern Illinois. As a pitcher, the three-time All-American racked up a 104-20 record and hit .301, and led Southwestern Louisiana to a third-place finish in the 1993 Women's College World Series.
No. 14 Nebraska (www.Huskers.com): Women's College World Series returnee NU (12-6) has beaten three top-25 teams this year - No. 12 Florida State (4-3), No. 12 Texas A&M (3-2 (9)) and No. 13 Oklahoma (7-2). The Huskers return two All-Region selections from 2013 - the first-team duo of senior pitcher/utility player Tatum Edwards and sophomore right hand-hander Emily Lockman. Edwards was tabbed the 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and was a first-team all-conference choice with her sister and senior catcher Taylor, while five others were second-team choices - Lockman, Thomason, senior Courtney Breault, sophomore Jordan Bettiol and freshman Alicia Armstrong. Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is in her 22nd year at the helm and sports an 810-430 record at NU. Since her arrival before the 1993 season, she has guided the team to six conference titles, 17 NCAA tourney appearances and three WCWS trips. The NFCA Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Big Eight/Big 12 Coach of the Year has also coached 15 All-Americans.
No. 6 Washington (www.GoHuskies.com): The World Series-returning Huskies (16-2) have scored notable wins this year vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (3-1), No. 18 Baylor (7-4) and No. 25 Texas (3-2) and returning NCAA advancers Arkansas (6-1), San Jose State (18-1, 1-0), and BYU (8-0). UW is led by return All-America right-hander Kaitlin Inglesby and All-Region and senior infielder Hooch Fagaly, while junior infielder Kylee Lahners and senior pitcher Bryana Walker were recent USA Softball and NFCA National Players of the Week after the opening weeks of the season (2/11 & 2/18). Tenth-year head coach and UW alumnus Heather Tarr has led UW to an NCAA title in '09 among its six World Series trips in her tenure.
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
At the plate, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil drilled her third and fourth homers of the season two weeks ago in Cathedral City and moved into sole position of eighth place on the Bulldog career homer list (20).
Junior center fielder Brenna Moss stole another base two weekends ago to up her career total to 53 - second-best for Fresno State just ahead of former All-American Becky Witt (third, 51, 1998-2001). Her triple against No. 2 Tennessee moved her to 15 career-wise and into a tie for fifth all-time for the `Dogs, and her four runs opening week vs. UC Riverside tied a team game record shared by four other Bulldogs.
Last year, Moss smashed the school stolen bases record with her 34 swipes - seven better than the former mark (27) shared by Haley Gilleland (2011) and Karen Tabor. Moss's nine triples was also second-best in `Dog history behind All-American Laura Berg (11, 1995), while two others stood top 15 - Maria Sio (sacrifices, 14th-tie, 19) and Vonnie Martin (hitting streak, eighth-tie, 14 games). Among other all-time Bulldog game bests, Moss's three stolen bases vs. New Mexico tied a school record.
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 2006.
Last year, the squad combined for a school record 87 stolen bases in 54 contests. For comparison's sake in 2014, the `Dogs have already swiped 25 bases after 15 games (which would equate to 93 in a 56-game season).
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 four other NCAA tourney qualifiers (Arizona, Houston, San Diego State and San Jose State).
Overall, the `Dogs will play 16 contests against 11 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).
PRIDE OF THE VALLEY
Two players are from the Fresno area directly - seniors Kapri Angotti (Clovis) and Kim Fisher (Fresno) - and also played their initial collegiate seasons at Fresno City College. Two others' hometowns are less than an hour's drive away - freshman Melissa Gilbert (Merced) and sophomore Bria Kennedy (Hanford) - and two other starters are from the Central Valley, senior Stesha Brazil (Turlock) and junior Brenna Moss (Bakersfield).
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 senior 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.
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.
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).
ON THE MW CHARTS
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).
Notable 2014 MW Individual Rankings
Notable 2014 MW Team Rankings
FRESNO STATE ALL-TIME LISTS
Triples 5. 15 Brenna Moss, 2013- (4th is 17)
Home Runs 8. 20 Stesha Brazil, 2012- (7th is 22)
Hitting Streak 8. 14 Vonnie Martin, 2013
Stolen Bases 1. 34 Brenna Moss, 2013 (2nd is 27)
Triples 2. 9 Brenna Moss, 2013 (1st is 11)
Sacrifice Hits 14. 19 Maria Sio, 2013 (9th is 20)
Saves 1. 4 Taylor Langdon, 2014 9. 2 Harrah Harris, 2013 (4th is 3)
Softball Coaching Staff
Returning All-MW: Vonnie Martin (2012, `13), Jill Compton (`13), Paige Gumz (`13), Brenna Moss (`13)