Bulldogs Ready to Wrap Non-Conference Slate in Bay Area
April 15, 2014
This Week: St. Mary's (17-19, 4-2); Santa Clara (6-25, 2-4)
Wednesday, April 16: at St. Mary's (17-19, 4-2), Doubleheader, 1 p.m.
Thursday, April 17: at Santa Clara (6-25, 2-4), 6 p.m.
Bulldog Twitter Game Updates: @FresnoStateSB
THIS WEEK'S PREVIEW
Both dates were adjusted or added from earlier schedules to help make up for six games rained out in March in the San Diego Classic and at Pacific.
Last weekend, the `Dogs went 2-1 vs. returning NCAA Tournament advancer San Diego State with 5-4 and 2-0 wins the first two games. In the finale, the two teams were scoreless through the first eight innings before SDSU won 2-0 in the ninth inning to force a three-way tie for the MW lead with San Jose State (all three sport .667 winning percentages).
On Tuesday of this week, sophomore Hannah Harris was chosen as the MW Pitcher of the Week - the `Dogs' fifth hurler honored the past 1 1/2 seasons. She logged a 2-0 second-game shutout - her third among five starts in conference action in 2014.
A month ago, Fresno State beat St. Mary's, 3-0, at home in the Fresno State Classic finale, while it topped Santa Clara last year, 5-1.
FURTHER UP DOWN THE ROAD
RECENT BULLDOG TEAM NOTES
- Fresno State now has five wins on the year vs. returning NCAA Tournament advancers after it also shutout No. 6 Washington (1-0) and No. 14 Nebraska (1-0) in early March and N.C. State opening weekend (1-0).
- Its 2-0 second-game win was its ninth shutout of the year, and its 5-4 win in the opener raised its record in one-run contests to 7-3 in 2014.
- For the weekend, Fresno State held combined team offensive advantages in batting (.225), hits (18-17), doubles (4-2), triples (1-0), homers (1-0), RBI (6-5), slugging (.338-.241), on-base percentage (.267-.262) and stolen bases (6-3).
- Bulldog pitchers didn't allow a home run to the Aztecs, and their 17 allowed in conference play is second-fewest (and one shy of MW leader - SDSU, 16).
- Overall for the three-game Aztec series, sophomore catcher Paige Gumz led Fresno State in hitting (.444, 4H, 2B, SB), and three others topped .300 - senior outfielder Kapri Angotti (.400, 2H, SB), sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (.333, 3H, 2B, RBI) and junior center fielder Brenna Moss (.33, 3H, 2B, RBI, 2B, 3 SB).
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
Former All-MW honoree and sophomore right-hander Jill Compton added third-place rankings in wins (14), starts (21), opponent batting (.229) and ERA (2.32), and stood fourth in strikeouts looking (30), and fifth in innings (132.2) and strikeouts (99). Sophomore Hannah Harris also stood third in fewest hits allowed (63), fifth in opposing batting (.252) and seventh in ERA (2.89).
At the plate, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz topped the triples category (4), and five other `Dogs were spotted offensively - All-MW center fielder and junior Brenna Moss (stolen bases, second, 24; hits, second, 49; runs, third, 31; batting, sixth, .383), senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, second, 32; on-base percentage, 10th, .461), junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (runs, sixth, 29; triples, fourth, 3), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (RBI, fifth, 35; homers, seventh, 7; triples, seventh, 2; stolen bases, ninth, 9), and freshman left fielder Kierra Willis (triples, seventh, 2).
Team-wise, the Bulldog pitchers still pace the conference in lowest opposing batting average (.251), fewest hits allowed (236) and double plays (18), and stood second in ERA (2.81), fewest homers allowed (17), and saves (4). Offensively, the `Dogs rank first in triples (13) and second in stolen bases (62).
Nine other `Dogs stood top 140 nationally - senior third baseman Vonnie Martin (walks, ninth, 0.91 p/g), sophomore pitcher Jill Compton (shutouts, 23rd, 6; ERA, 129th, 2.31; strikeouts, 137th, 100), junior center fielder Brenna Moss (stolen bases, 18th, 0.65 p/g; runs, 116th, 0.84 p/g ; triples, 139th, 2) senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz (triples, 14th, 4); junior right fielder Michelle Solomon (triples, 47th, 3), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (RBI, 74th, 0.95 p/g; triples, 139th, 2), sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (toughest to strikeout, 68th, 1:18.8 at-bats), senior first baseman Stesha Brazil (triples, 139th, 2) and sophomore right-hander Hannah Harris (shutouts, 97th, 3).
Team-wise, Fresno State's highest national rankings were in triples (eighth, 0.35 p/g), double plays (12th, 0.49 p/g), stolen bases (30th, 1.65 p/g), fielding (59th, .967), win-loss percentage (66th, .622), ERA (75th, 2.81) and scoring (76th, 5.11 p/g).
Fans can find NCAA statistics updated every Monday at the http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings/ranking_summary URL address.
BULLDOG-GAELS-BRONCOS SERIES HISTORY
Earlier this year, Fresno State beat St. Mary's (3-0) in the Fresno State Classic finale, and went 2-1 last year vs. the Gaels (1-0 and 8-0 (6) wins; 3-2 loss) in the series that dates back to 1979.
Last season, Fresno State won 5-1 over Santa Clara to extend a 13-game series win streak. SCU's last series win came in 2003 (3-0), while the Bulldogs had a 34-game victory streak prior in the series that began in 1979.
GAELS SCOUTING REPORT (www.SMCgaels.com)
BRONCOS SCOUTING REPORT (www.SantaClaraBroncos.com)
2014 FRESNO STATE-ST. MARY'S REWIND
In the sixth inning, the `Dogs broke the scoreless tie with three-run inning that was started by a single by senior third baseman Vonnie Martin, walk by freshman left fielder Kierra Willis and single by senior first baseman Stesha Brazil. Senior DP Taylor Green accounted for the first run on a RBI ground-out to first base, and sophomore catcher Paige Gumz singled up the middle to score the last two runs. For the game, seven Bulldogs hit safely, including Green who hit her third double of the season in the fifth inning, along with singles from junior center fielder Brenna Moss (1-for-3), Willis (1-for-2) and sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith (1-for-3).
For St. Mary's, Sarah Lira (5-5) also pitched a complete game, walked one, gave up seven hits and logged no strikeouts.
2013 FRESNO STATE-SANTA CLARA RECAP
The Bulldogs scored in the first inning after Moss singled, and moved around the bases with a sacrifice hit, a stolen base and throwing error. In the third inning, Diane Runge led off with a double off the third base bag, and Moss followed with an RBI triple to right center field.
In her first career start, Taylor Langdon struck out two in four innings of work and allowed one earned run. Hannah Harris pitched three scoreless innings to cap the game en route to her first career save.
Santa Clara's run came in the third inning on an RBI double. The Broncos tried to send a pair of runners home in the fourth inning, but each was tagged out by catcher Paige Gumz.
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 two weeks ago 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 Aztecs to up her career total to 69 - second-best for Fresno State. That total ranks 25th nationally among active collegians (and seventh among players that are juniors or younger). Her 24 stolen bases this year is fourth-most in a season for Fresno State all-time, and 10 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 and San Diego State this year tied her school record vs. UNM in 2013. Likewise, her four runs opening week vs. UC Riverside also matched a school game record.
With her triple vs. New Mexico, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz has four, three-baggers on the season and 11 career-wise - a tally that stands 15th 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 62 bases after 37 games (which would equate to 87 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).
Willis has started 28 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 23 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.
As preps, 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.
RACKING UP THE WEEKLY HARDWARE
The Santa Barbara, Calif., native logged her third shutout among her five MW starts in the 2-0 second-game win. In the seven-inning effort, she logged two strikeouts and one walk, and her three hits allowed was one shy of her season low.
In the finale, she also made her fifth relief appearance of 2014 and finished her third game of the season. She came in with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, and helped the team notch its 18th double play of the year against the only batter that she faced.
On the weekend, she led the team in ERA (0.00), wins (1), lowest opponent batting (.125), appearances (2), fewest walks (1) and fewest hits allowed (3).
In previous weeks, senior Stesha Brazil and sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge were rewarded with MW Player and Pitcher of the Week honors in March and April to give the team eight honors from six current players the past 1 1/2 years.
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)).
Among conference foes, the `Dogs staked a 2-1 marked against last year's NCAA Tournament representative from the MW - San Diego State - in their series in Fresno in mid-April.
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. Her 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.
THIS WEEK'S MW STANDINGS
Pl. Team MW Record Pct. Overall 1. Fresno State 8-4 .667 23-14 San Diego State 6-3 .667 29-11 San Jose State 6-3 .667 23-16 4. UNLV 7-5 .583 17-23 5. Colorado State 5-4 .556 24-10 6. Boise State 6-6 .500 21-18 7. Utah State 4-5 .444 15-21 8. Nevada 3-9 .250 21-19 New Mexico 3-9 .250 12-27
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
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