Matchup of League's Best Records Ushers in Conference Play
Big West Softball Weekly Release No. 8
The race for the Big West title begins this weekend with a marquee matchup as UC Riverside (23-9-1) visits Cal State Fullerton (25-10). The Highlanders and Titans have recorded the league's best marks through non-conference play.
BIG WEST TEAM NOTES
CAL POLY (16-11)
Hyland Ready For Conference Foes: Cal Poly junior pitcher Sierra Hyland has been a nightmare for opposing batters, even more so in her career in Big West play. In her freshman season, Hyland was 11-4 with a 1.08 ERA, 94 strikeouts, 13 complete games and allowed only 77 hits in 117.0 innings. In her sophomore campaign, Hyland posted a 5-12 record, but still had outstanding numbers with a 3.07 ERA, 80 strikeouts and 13 complete games in 107.0 innings. She has warmed up for Big West play this season by going 10-4 with a 1.67 ERA, 154 strikeouts, 12 complete games and only 63 hits in 100.2 innings of work.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (25-10)
Road Tested: Even though the Titans have played eight of their last nine at home, the club’s fast start has also been tied to its solid play away from Anderson Family Field. CSF is 11-5 in road/neutral contests this season, the best record away from a home field in the Big West. The Titans also have yet to drop a true road game this year, going 3-0 in those contests.
Win One, Save One: Junior pitcher Katie Chenault was involved in both decisions in the Matadors’ doubleheader sweep over CSU Bakersfield this week. Tasked with the start in game one, she went the distance and allowed three hits, three runs, struck out four and worked around six walks to pick up the victory. In game two, Chenault came on in relief to pick up the save, allowing two hits, striking out one and allowing no runs in an inning of work.
LONG BEACH STATE (20-11
Dueling Aces: Long Beach State ranks second in the Big West in ERA (2.88) and the play of their two starting pitchers, junior Christina Clermont and freshman Cielo Meza has led the way. Clermont is 12-3 with a 2.69 ERA, 111 strikeouts and has allowed just 38 earned runs in 99.0 innings of work. Meza is 10-6 in her debut season, posting a 2.59 ERA, 85 strikeouts, six complete games and 61 hits allowed in 67.2 innings.
UC DAVIS (11-16)
Among The Best: The Aggies are among the nation’s best in steals per game, ranking 10th in the NCAA at 2.38 per contest. UCD is the lone team to post a minimum of two steals per game in the Big West. Individually, the club is led by junior Brianna Warner who leads the Big West and ranks third in the country in steals per game at 1.04.
UC RIVERSIDE (23-9-1)
Steady Paws In The Field: UC Riverside is the top fielding team in the Big West this season, recording a league-high .980 fielding percentage and a league-low 18 errors. UCR’s fielding percentage is seventh in the NCAA and makes the club the lone team with a fielding percentage of at least .980.
UC SANTA BARBARA (17-17)
Offensive Machine: UC Santa Barbara has shown a consistent offense as it enters conference play, ranking second in the Big West in batting average (.319), on-base percentage (.392) and RBI (156), while leading in hits (298) and tying for third in runs scored (166). The Gauchos usually give their pitching staff plenty of support as they have recorded five or more runs in 18 of their 34 contests.
Freshman Leaders: The Rainbow Wahine have a pair of standout freshmen as utility Sarah Muzik and pitcher Jennier Iseri have had standout debut seasons. Muzik leads the club with a .288 batting average, 24 runs scored, 30 hits, four steals and is tied for the lead with 14 walks. Iseri is 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA and four complete games in 42.1 innings.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
Highlanders, Titans Stay At The Top: Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside look poised to enter Big West play as the top two teams in the league. The Titans have the league’s best mark at 25-10, while the Highlanders are right behind them at 23-9-1. The schedule won’t make Big West softball fans wait for the league matchup at they open conference play against each other starting on April 2. The Highlanders have are just 10-33 all-time against the Titans but have had recent success in CSF’s home park. UCR has taken each of the last three series at Anderson Family Field, going 6-3 over than span.
#44 Left The Yard: Senior infielder Darian Tautalafua collected her seventh homer of the season in LBSU’s loss to #24 Fresno State on March 18, giving her 44 for her career. Three more roundtrippers and Tautalafua ties former CSF star Yasmin Mossadeghi for the top spot in conference history. As for this season, Tautalafua is second in the Big West with her seven homers, one behind CSUN’s Savannah Horvath.
Coaching Power: The 300 win club has three seats in the Big West table as Hawai’i’s Bob Coolen and Cal Poly’s Jenny Condon joined Long Beach State’s Kim Sowder in the milestong. Sowder reached it last season while both Coolen and Condon earned it within a week of each other this season.
RPI Report: The latest RPI report has two Big West clubs in the top 40 as Cal State Fullerton (36) and Long Beach State (38) have earned spots. Two more clubs rank in the top 75 as Cal Poly and CSUN are No. 68 and 74, respectively.
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.