'Dogs Welcome Aztecs in Battle for MW Lead
April 9, 2014
This Week's Opponent: San Diego State (28-9, 5-1)
Online Videostream Link: www.GoBulldogs.com/Videos
THIS WEEK'S UPDATE
Last weekend, the `Dogs went 2-1 at New Mexico with an explosive 38-run performance in 20 innings, and capped by 9-0 and 20-0 second- and third-game wins. In the opener, FS came back from an 8-1 fourth-inning deficit to retake the lead 9-8 before it ultimately fell 11-9 in eight innings.
Off to its best start in school history, the Aztecs (28-9, 5-1) lead in the conference standings with an .833 winning percentage this week. Two other teams - UNLV (6-3) and San Jose State (4-2) - are tied for second place in the conference with Fresno State with identical .667 marks.
THIS WEEK'S MARKETING/TICKET PROMOTIONS
FURTHER UP DOWN THE ROAD
The `Dogs' then host back-to-back three-game home series vs. UNLV (Fri.-Sun., April 25-27) and Colorado State (Fri.-Sun., May 2-4), then wrap the regular season at Nevada (Thu.-Sat., May 8-10).
RECENT BULLDOG TEAM NOTES
- Fresno State's 18 hits in the finale was a team season high and three shy of its school record (21 vs. UNLV, 1998). The offense also logged a season-high 10 walks (4 shy of its record vs. San Francisco State, 1985 (14)).
- Its five-inning win in the third game gives Fresno State five, +eight-run wins this year in less than seven innings (including three in MW play (and one in each series)).
- Bulldog pitchers own a 12-inning scoreless streak going into the SDSU series, while the offense has racked up 29 unanswered runs in that stretch.
- Also combined for the Albuquerque trip's three games, the `Dogs staked other notable team comparison advantages in (.433-.229), hits (42-16), doubles (6-2), triples (2-0), total bases (58-27), walks (21-10) and stolen bases (6-0), and its pitchers also held advantages in ERA (3.62-12.95) and strikeouts (12-6).
- Six Bulldog batters ended with +.300 marks for last weekend's New Mexico series - freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (.700, 7H, 4 RBI, 2 SB), senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz (.667, 8H, 2 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, SB), sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (.615, 8H, 2 2B, 8 RBI), junior center fielder Brenna Moss (.462, 6H, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 SB), senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (.429, 3H, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB) and senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (.300, 3H, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB).
RECENT BULLDOG HEROES
- Sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith has claimed game-winning RBI in each of the team's last three wins to give her a team-leading four on the campaign. Last weekend at New Mexico, she hit .615 (8-for-13, 2 2B) and raised her hitting streak to 11 games with multi-hit games in each Lobo contest. Her 4-for-5 finale featured a career high in hits and 3 RBI, while her 5 RBI in the second game (2-for-4) was also a career high. Nationally, she ranks 48th in the toughest to strike out (1:21.3 at-bats) and leads the team, and in MW play she ranks third on the squad in hitting (.469) and total bases (13), and also stood second in hits (15) and on-base percentage (.514).
In the last two series vs. Utah State and New Mexico, freshman left fielder / DP Kierra Willis has claimed four of her seven multi-hit efforts of the campaign. After starting all three games at the Lobos, she led the team in the series in batting (.700) and on-base percentage (.750), and ranked second in RBI (4) and stolen bases (2), and third in hits (7). Among her 25 starts on the year, she ranks second on squad in on-base percentage (.463) and ninth overall in the Mountain West conference. Season-wise, she ranks second overall on the team in batting (.333) and walks (17), third in stolen bases (8 in 8 attempts), fourth in multi-hit games (7) and multi-RBI games (4), and fifth in triples (1). In conference play after nine games, she leads the squad in batting (.500) and on-base percentage (.571), and stands third in stolen bases (3).
Last week, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil picked up her first career MW Player of the Week honor after she reached base safely in eight of her 11 at-bats vs. Utah State. She logged multi-hit efforts in the first and second games (2-for-4 / 2-for-3), then walked three times in the finale and went 1-for-1. More recently against New Mexico, she hit safely in all three games vs. the Lobos to up her hitting streaks and reached base streaks to 11 and 14 games, respectively, and the latter is a team season high. On the season, she paces the squad in total bases (58), RBI (35), slugging (.542) and homers (7), and stands top four in hits (second, 31), stolen bases (second, 9), runs (third, 25), triples (third, 2), walks (fourth, 13). Among MW season rolls, she ranks top 10 in homers (fourth, 7), RBI (fifth, 35), triples (sixth, 2) stolen bases (sixth, 9), and also nationally in RBI (49th, 1.03 p/g), triples (114th, 2) and homers (134th, 7).
Returning All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss upped her team-leading hit streak to 12 games vs. New Mexico. With her 2-for-5 opener and 3-for-4 finale, she now has a team-leading 16 multi-hit games on the season. She stole two bases in the finale - her sixth multi-steal game of the year - and has 10 swipes the last eight games. Season-wise, her 21 stolen bases in 2014 ranks fifth-most in school history and raised her career total to 66 (still second-most all-time for the `Dogs). Two weeks before, her three stolen bases vs. Boise State in the finale tied her Bulldog game record. On the year, she also leads the team in hitting (.387) and hits (46), and in the MW this week, she ranked second in stolen bases and hits, third in runs (29) and seventh in batting (.387). She topped in the squad in all four categories this week and stood 22nd nationally in stolen bases.
Junior right fielder Michelle Solomon has hit safely in 12 of the last 14 games, including a seven-game streak vs. Boise State, Utah State and New Mexico. Against the Lobos she had six walks and two hits (including a double) among her 14 at-bats. The week before, her 2-for-4 opener vs. Utah State was her fourth multi-hit game the last 11 contests and one of seven overall in 2014. She knocked in an RBI in all three Aggie tilts and added a double in both the first and third games to give her a team-leading 13 extra-base hits this year. The week before in the team's 24-4 win vs. Boise State, her 3 RBI was one off her season high vs. UC Riverside and marked her sixth multi-RBI tilt of the year (third-most on the squad). She also ranks second on the team in triples (3), homers (4) and RBI (25), and ranks top 10 in the MW this week in triples (fourth, 3) and runs (third, 29), and 38th nationally in triples and 104th in runs (0.85 p/g).
Senior third baseman Vonnie Martin hit safely once in all three games vs. New Mexico and also walked once in each game to give her a .429 hitting mark vs. the Lobos. On the season, she now has 31 walks - seventh most in a season for the `Dogs - and also ranks ninth nationally. She hit her fifth homer of the season against UNM - a two-run shot in the sixth inning of the first game. Her .471 on-base percentage ranks eighth in the conference and tops on the squad. Season-wise, she also ranks second on the team in rounder-trippers in 2014 and third in slugging (.453) and RBI (22). Two weekends ago in the 24-4 win at Boise State, she hit her second career grand slam in the 13-run first inning. The week before in the Fresno State Classic vs. Pacific, she logged one of her six multi-hit games of the season with her 2-for-3 day that included a homer and RBI single.
Sophomore catcher Paige Gumz has hit safely in eight of the last 10 games, including a double in back to back games vs. Utah State and New Mexico. Three weeks ago, she hit her first career homer in the Boise State second-game win, and her 3-for-4 day also featured her career highs in hits (3-tie) and RBI (3). In mid-February, her first multi-hit effort of the year came in the Mary Nutter Classic vs. Virginia (2-for-5). Defensively, she threw out base stealers that day vs. Virginia (twice) and against Texas, and also last week against New Mexico.
Junior first baseman/DP Kelly Megee enjoyed the first multi-hit game of her career in the finale vs. Utah State (2-for-2) after she stroked her first career double in the fifth inning. That start - her fifth the last three weeks - also gave her seven on the season and 16 career-wise. The week before in the 24-4 win vs. Boise State, she drilled her first career homer and reached base in all four appearances with her two walks and hit by pitch. She also had a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning in the first game vs. the Broncos the day before - her first hit of the season. Against New Mexico she logged a career-high two walks in the finale, and also had a sixth-inning single in the opener.
Senior left fielder Kapri Angotti hit safely in six straight games against Boise State and Utah State, including her third multi-hit effort of the season in the second game win at Boise State (2-for-3, RBI). Against the Aggies, she added her fourth stolen base of the year in the opener, and also made a running catch in the seventh inning in the left center field gap for the penultimate out.
- In last week's New Mexico series, sophomore Bulldog pitchers Hannah Harris (6-5) and Jill Compton (13-6) each pitched two-hit shutouts in the second and third games to give the squad 10 shutouts on the year.
In the finale vs. UNM, the All-MW returnee Compton struck out four and allowed one walk en route to her sixth shutout of the year - a category that she ranks 17th nationally in this week. In conference rankings, she stands third in opponent batting (.226) and ERA (2.27), fourth in wins (13), and fifth in strikeouts (88). The week before in the finale vs. Utah State, she posted six strikeouts in four innings of relief, and her one hit allowed was a season low among her 16 games that she has pitched four innings or more. Her six strikeouts was her fifth-highest tally of the campaign and best among efforts of four innings or less. She also pitched one of her 12 complete games this year in the 6-0 opening win vs. the Aggies, and struck out five, walked one and scattered three hits.
Against New Mexico, Harris (6-5) logged her second shutout of the season in the 9-0 second-game win, struck out a career-high four batters, and walked none for the first time among her four complete games on the campaign. In the first game, she made her fourth appearance of the year in relief, and struck out one among the four outs she retired en route to her second game finished in 2014. On the year, she ranks top eight in the MW in fewest hits allowed (fourth, 60) and opponent batting (eighth, .265), and second on the squad in wins (6), appearances (16), starts (12), innings (57.2), strikeouts (26), lowest opposing batting (.265) and complete games (4).
A month ago, redshirt sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge was tabbed the MW Pitcher of the Week after her first career shutout and 1-0 win over No. 6 Washington the Sunday before. That start was her first in nearly two years after redshirting last year because of a knee injury/surgery and featured nine strikeouts - a team season high (and three times her previous career best (3)) - and only three hits allowed.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
Former All-MW honoree and sophomore right-hander Jill Compton added third-place rankings in starts (19), opponent batting (.226) and ERA (2.27), and stood fourth in wins (13), and fifth in innings (117.1) and strikeouts (88); and sophomore Hannah Harris stood fourth in fewest hits allowed (fourth, 60) and eighth in opposing batting (.265).
At the plate, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz topped the triples category (4), and six other `Dogs were spotted offensively - All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss (stolen bases, second, 25; hits, second, 46; runs, third, 29; batting, seventh, .387), senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, second, 31; on-base percentage, eighth, .471), junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (runs, third, 29; triples, fourth, 3), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (homers, fourth, 7; RBI, fifth, 35; triples, sixth, 2; stolen bases, sixth, 9), and freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (on-base percentage, ninth, .467) and senior left fielder Kapri Angotti (sacrifice bunts, ninth, 4).
Team-wise, the Bulldog pitchers still pace the conference in fewest homers allowed (17) and lowest opposing batting average (.254), and stood second in ERA (2.91), saves (4) and fewest hits allowed (219). Offensively, the `Dogs rank first in triples (12) and second in stolen bases (56).
Nine other `Dogs stood top 140 nationally - senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, ninth, 0.91 p/g), sophomore pitcher Jill Compton (shutouts, 17th, 6; ERA, 125th, 2.25; strikeouts, 139th, 89), junior center fielder Brenna Moss (stolen bases, 22nd, 0.62 p/g; toughest to strikeout, 141st, 1:14.9 at-bats; runs, 104th, 0.85 p/g ; triples, 114th, 2) senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz (triples, 11th, 4); junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (triples, 38th, 3; runs: 104th, 0.85 p/g), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (RBI, 64th, 1.00 p/g), sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (toughest to strikeout, 48th, 1:21.3 at-bats), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (triples, 114th, 2) and sophomore right-hander Hannah Harris (shutouts, 137th, 2).
Team-wise, Fresno State's highest national rankings were in triples (10th, 0.35 p/g), double plays (16th, 0.47 p/g), stolen bases (32nd, 1.62 p/g), win-loss percentage (65th, .618) and ERA (81st, 2.91).
Fans can find NCAA statistics updated every Monday at the http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings/ranking_summary URL address.
BULLDOG-AZTEC SERIES HISTORY
2013 FRESNO STATE-SAN DIEGO STATE REWIND
Team-wise, the `Dogs held series edges in hits (9-8), batting (.264-.253), runs (9-8), homers (1-0) and stolen bases (4-1), while SDSU sported advantages in walks (6-1), doubles (4-1), triples (1-0) and ERA (2.00-2.95).
In the first game last year, the Aztecs won 5-3 after it scored a pair of runs in first and fifth innings and another in the third. Fresno State scored its first two runs on a two-run Michelle Solomon homer in the sixth inning, while Brenna Moss hit her first (and only) career homer in the seventh inning.
SDSU won the second game, 3-2, with its one run in the second inning and two in the fourth. The Bulldogs plated their first run in the first inning after Moss singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Vonnie Martin. Moss added an RBI single in the fifth inning after Whitney Smith reached on an error, and advanced on a sacrifice bunt and ground out.
Fresno State took the third game, 4-0, behind a shutout by Compton as she struck out four batters, walked two, and scattered five hits. In the fifth inning, the team's first run came after singles by Brazil, Paige Gumz, Smith and Kapri Angotti. In the sixth inning, its final three runs came via Runge and Martin singles, a Solomon RBI double, fielder's choice and ground out.
AZTEC SCOUTING REPORT (www.GoAztecs.com)
RPI ON THE RISE
This week's RPI rating is again well ahead of last year's year-end position (116), and a full current listing is available here ( http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/softball/d1/ncaa-womens-softball-rpi ).
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
At the plate, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil drilled her seventh homer of the season last week at New Mexico, and her 23 career-wise is seventh-best in school history (not to mention the four she hit as a freshman at Houston in 2011).
Junior center fielder Brenna Moss stole three more bases last weekend vs. the Lobos to up her career total to 66 - second-best for Fresno State. That total ranks 29th nationally among active collegians (and seventh among players that are juniors or younger). Her 21 stolen bases this year is fifth-most in a season for Fresno State all-time, and 13 behind her school record from last year (34).
The Bakersfield, Calif., native's triple against New Mexico moved her to 16 career-wise and fifth all-time for the `Dogs (and third nationally among active collegians). Moss's nine triples in 2013 is also second-best in Bulldog history behind former Olympian and All-American Laura Berg (11, 1995),
Among all-time game bests, her three stolen bases vs. Boise State tied her school record vs. UNM in 2013, and her four runs opening week vs. UC Riverside also matched a school game record.
With her triple last weekend vs. Utah State, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz has four, three-baggers on the season and 11 career-wise - a tally that stands 13th nationally among active collegians and one shy of Fresno State's ninth-best career mark.
In her first month as a collegian, sophomore pitcher Jill Compton made history in February 2013 with the program's 70th no-hitter vs. St. Mary's. Her seven-inning, five-strikeout performance also made her the first 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 56 bases after 34 games (which would equate to 78 in a 52-game season).
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.
Other starters back from 2013 include senior outfielder Kapri Angotti, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil, junior outfielder Michelle Solomon and sophomore infielder Whitney Smith. 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 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 25 games at DP and in left field this year, while Liddell has made six starts at second base among her 14 appearances. Rodriguez had appeared in 21 games as a pinch-runner and stole bases vs. Sacramento State, Long Beach State and Utah State; Jimenez pinch-ran ran vs. No. 8 Oregon and Riverside; and Kaleialii has seen time behind the plate vs. UC Riverside, No. 25 Texas, Boise State and New Mexico.
RACKING UP THE WEEKLY HARDWARE
The Turlock, Calif., native Brazil led the `Dogs to a late-March home sweep of Utah State, and topped the team for the three games combined in hitting (.625), slugging (.875), on-base percentage (.727), hits (5), stolen bases (3) and total bases (7).
Three weeks ago, Aldridge won her first MW weekly career honor after she logged a 1-0 shutout versus No. 6 Washington. Her nine strikeouts came in her first start in nearly two years and tripled her previous Bulldog best from this season (3) and also 2012. She also limited the returning WCWS advancers to three hits.
Among other recent Bulldog honorees in the circle, sophomores Jill Compton and Taylor Langdon combined for three honors in 2013, while senior third baseman Vonnie Martin was a two-time MW Player of the Week last season. Other current `Dogs honored with WAC Player of the Week honors include senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz (2012).
ANOTHER STACKED SCHEDULE
In the opening months of the year, Fresno State faced 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).
Among the tilts in February and March, the `Dogs posted 1-0 shutouts vs. No. 6 Washington and No. 14 Nebraska on the same day in the finale of the Judi Garmin Classic, while it lost by one run the opening three weeks to No. 2 Tennessee (5-4) and No. 8 Oregon (10-9 (8)).
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.
CATCH THE `DOGS ON THE AIR
Twenty of the team's games will also be radio broadcast locally by ESPN 790AM The Deuce this spring. Thirteen will come the first six weeks of the season in non-conference play, followed by seven MW games against Utah State, San Jose State, UNLV and Colorado State.
Christian Lukens and Andrew Haynes will share the radio broadcast duties, while Stephen Trembley and Keenan Sanders will handle the video stream play-by-play.
BULLDOG DIAMOND TO BE RECHRISTENED
Wright, who led Fresno State to its first-ever team national championship in 1998, was a driving force behind the construction of the 3,288-seat Bulldog Diamond in 1996. The NCAA's all-time winningest Division I softball coach retired in 2012 after amassing 1,294 wins in 27 seasons with the Bulldogs, including 10 Women's College World Series appearances and 17 conference titles. Wright's resume also includes a stint as U.S. Olympic coach and National Coach of the Year honors.
Under her direction, Fresno State was ranked in the national top 25 polls for 27 consecutive years while the Red Wave fan base led the nation in average attendance 13 times.
ALL-TIME `DOG LISTS
MORE ONLINE SOFTBALL INFO
BULLDOG SOFTBALL MEDIA
THIS WEEK'S MW STANDINGS
Team MW Record Pct. Overall 1. San Diego State 5-1 .833 28-9 2. Fresno State 6-3 .667 21-13 UNLV 6-3 .667 16-21 San Jose State 4-2 .667 21-15 5. Colorado State 3-3 .500 22-9 6. Utah State 4-5 .444 15-20 7. Nevada 3-6 .333 21-16 Boise State 3-6 .333 18-18 9. New Mexico 2-7 .222 11-25
NOTABLE MW INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS (NCAA)
NOTABLE MW TEAM RANKINGS (NCAA)
Complete NCAA Stats - http://bit.ly/1gPx6rG
2014 MW PRESEASON POLL
Pl. Team Pts. 2013 Finish Overall 1. SDSU (7) 63 1st 13-5 35-18 2. Fresno State (2) 56 2nd 11-7 30-24 3. Boise State 42 4th 9-9 25-26 4. Colorado St. 38 2nd 11-7 25-24 San Jose St. 38 1st-WAC 17-4 42-15 6. Nevada 36 4th 9-9 30-23 7. UNLV 27 6th 7-11 21-31 8. New Mexico 13 7th 3-15 21-35 9. Utah State 11 8th-WAC 5-16 11-43
THIS WEEK'S MW SCHEDULE
Tuesday, April 8
Friday, April 11
Saturday, April 12
Sunday, April 13
RECENT MW RESULTS
Sunday, April 6
Saturday, April 5
Friday, April 4
Wednesday, April 2
Tuesday, April 1
Sunday, March 30
Saturday, March 29