Bats Come Alive As Softball Season Begins
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This Week In The Big West
Big West Softball Weekly Release No. 1
The sounds of softball are in the air as the 2016 Big West softball season begins this weekend with tournament play.
BIG WEST TEAM NOTES
Moving On Up: Junior right handed pitcher Sierra Hyland is already second on the Cal Poly career charts in strikeouts (496), ERA (1.91) and shutouts (20) and fourth in victories (20). She is just the second pitcher in Mustang history to record successive 200+ strikeout campaigns.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Sophomore Encore: Cal State Fullerton sophomore Samantha Vandiver ended her first collegiate campaign hitting for a .459 average with 17 RBI, 7 stolen bases in 32 runs in 50 games played. The Titan raked in the post season honors including NFCA All-West Region Second Team honors, Big West Co-Freshman of the Year honors, All-Big West First Team honors and All-Big West Freshman Team honors. Vandiver recorded at least 15 multi-hit games in her inaugural campaign and went on a24-game hit-streak, the longest for any Titan since at least the 1989 campaign when complete box scores became available.
Time To Defend: CSUN is ready for 2016 but will certainly look back at a memorable 2015 campaign. The Matadors won their first outright Big West title since 1998 and won 40 games for the first time in over 20 years. The team returns six starting position players and 13 letterwinners from the historic club, but only one pitcher with starting experience.
LONG BEACH STATE
Power Show: Long Beach State returns two players who rank in the top 10 in school history in home runs. Senior infielder Darian Tautalafua is the LBSU all-time leader with 37, while junior infielder Lauren Lombardi is seventh with 16 career bombs. Tautalafua is also just 10 homers shy of tying former CSF great Yasmin Mossadeghi for the top spot on the Big West career list.
Home Is Where The Aggies Are: One thing that stands out about the schedule for UC Davis is home games...and a lot of them. UCD will play 31 games at La Rue Field, four of those coming in tournament play. It is a reversal of last year when the team only played 13 home games.
What’s Next?: UC Riverside had the best season in its Division I history a year ago, going 39-17 and 11-10 in league play. Both of those records represented the first time that the club had finished over .500 overall and in league play. A big part of that historic season was senior pitcher Chelsea Ponce, who threw the first no-hitter in school history. Ponce was also named the Co-Big West Pitcher of the Year and led the league in wins with 30.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Gauchos Gain Acclaim: Junior outfielder Kristen Clark and senior catcher MeShalon Moore earned some national preseason recognititon as the duo led five players named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-Big West team. The duo earned first team honors, the second straight season that Clark has earned the accolade from the publication.
Tough “Road” Ahead: Hawai‘i hosts five tournaments this season, welcoming some of the top teams in the country. The Rainbow Wahine takes on national powers Ole Miss, Stanford, California, Baylor and Texas across the tourneys.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
Coaching Power: Two Big West coaches are on the cusp of 300 career wins as Hawai’i’s Bob Coolen (291) and Cal Poly’s Jenny Condon (287) are approaching the milestone. They would join Long Beach State’s Kim Sowder (300) who reached that number at the end of last season.
All-America Status: Cal State Fullerton senior Missy Taukeiaho earned her first honor of the 2016 campaign as she was named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watchlist.
The infielder was one of 50 players to be named to the list and the lone player to appear from the Big West Conference. This is the second consecutive season Taukeiaho has been named to the preseason list for the prestigious award.
LBSU The Favorite: Long Beach State earned the nod of 2016 softball favorite as the club was overwhelming choice in a vote of the league’s eight head coaches. The Beach claimed six first place votes and 62 points overall to claim the top spot in the preseason poll.