Home Tournaments Highlight Softball Slate
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A pair of home tournaments are on the softball docket this week as UC Riverside and Pacific will entertain clubs in their home stadiums. The Highlanders host the annual Amy S. Harrison Classic, while the Tigers will hold the Libby Matson Tournament.
Several teams will get a chance to play in front of their home crowds for the first time in 2011 this week. Cal State Northridge and UC Davis will host midweek games for their home openers against UCLA and Sacramento State, respectively. Pacific will get in on the fun this weekend as it hosts the Libby Matson Tournament as part of its home-opening weekend. To be fair though, the Tigers should’ve had their opener last Tuesday but were rained out.
Cal State Fullerton is already in a class of its own in Big West history with eight league titles, 20 NCAA appearances and a national title as a member of the conference, but a milestone the Titans are set to hit this season may shine above them all. With four more wins this year, CSF will be the first team in league history to get to 1,000 victories. The Titans are 71 wins ahead of second place Long Beach State in conference lore.
I'LL SEE YOUR SIX AND MATCH IT
Long Beach State had a successful offensive weekend in Las Vegas, scoring 37 runs in its five games during the UNLV Louisville Slugger Desert Classic. Two players also found their way into the program record books during the offensive onslaught...in the same category. Christina Schallig was the first to etch her name in 49er lore as she tied a single-game record with six RBI against SIU-Edwardsville. The following day, Megan Denio matched Schallig with six RBI of her own against Arkansas. They were both just one RBI short of the Big West record, a feat which has been done on seven occasions.
FEEL THE POWER
Balls are leaving the yard at a pretty good clip in the early part of the season as the eight Big West clubs have combined for 34 homers in 65 games. Three teams have combined for 25 of those knocks as Cal Poly (9), Long Beach State (9) and Cal State Northridge have shown their power with regularity. Conversely, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara have struggled hitting the ball out as they each have one homer in 17 combined games.
THE ARMS ARE BACK IN GAUCHO LAND
In 2010, UC Santa Barbara had a tough season in the circle as it posted a team ERA of 4.61 and no pitcher posted an ERA of under 4.28. During the early portion of the 2011 season, the Gauchos have shown marked improvement in the area as the club owns a 1.19 ERA through its first eight contests. The team has relied on two arms in the early going, freshman Andriana Collins and junior Krista Cobb. Collins has been impressive in the early part of her rookie season, posting league-bests in ERA (0.91), innings pitched (38.1), while not allowing a home run to opposing hitters and striking out 32 of them. Meanwhile, Cobb is showing the form that made her first team All-Big West and Co-Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2009. Cobb owns a 1.91 ERA, has two complete games and one shutout and is 2-0 on the season.
MUSTANGS TAKING THE EXTRA BASE
Cal Poly is batting only .250 as a team, but the Mustangs have been taking the extra base whenever the opportunity has presented itself. The club leads the Big West with 21 extra base hits (12 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR) in 10 games, after tallying 84 extra base hits (57 2B, 1 3B, 26 HR) in 47 games a year ago. Cal Poly has also taken the extra base when it hasn’t involved a base hit as the team owns six steals and 21 walks.
GEE THANKS MOTHER NATURE
February rains wreaked havoc on the Big West softball schedule last week as several teams saw rain washout their games. It began early in the week as Pacific had its doubleheader against Fresno State postponed to April. The following day, the UCLA/Cal State Fullerton tilt in Fullerton was put off thanks to the raining heavens. Then over the weekend, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara had their schedules at the San Diego Classic I cut short thanks to the rain. Rain isn’t expected to be a factor in the coming week but stay tuned for any changes.
DEFENDING CHAMPS, PRESEASON PICK STRUGGLE AT START
The defending Big West co-champions Cal State Northridge and UC Davis have struggled a bit at the start of the season, as has the coaches pick for the 2011 crown Cal Poly.
The Aggies (4-4) have posted a .234 batting average, a 4.20 ERA and have committed a league-high 17 errors. The Matadors normally potent offense is only hitting at a .231 clip and the pitching has registered a 8.92 ERA in its first 10 outings. The schedule for both clubs hasn’t been filled with patsies as UCD has had to play Hawai’i twice and Northwestern, while CSUN has battled the likes of Stanford, California, Brigham Young and Hawai’i.
Cal Poly has gotten out to a 2-8 start, but it’s biggest strength has been slow out of the gate. The pitching staff has a 6.50 ERA to this point, after posting a 3.09 figure a year ago.
TWO BIG WEST PLAYERS NAMED TO ASA PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCHLIST
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America has selected its initial watch list for the 10th annual ASA USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award and two Big West players have made the exclusive preseason list.
Cal Poly's Anna Cahn and UC Davis' Alex Holmes are among the 50 names on the preseason list, the first leg of the process for what is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's softball. The ASA will announce the 25 finalists on April 13. A player does not have to appear on the initial watch list to be considered as a top 25 finalist. However, once the top 25 finalists are named the winner of the award will come from that list. Freshman qualify for the top 25 list once they have competed at the collegiate level.
FLOWERS TAKES OVER AT CSUN
Tairia Flowers, who has enjoyed success as an outstanding collegiate player, an Olympic gold medal winner and as a successful collegiate assistant coach, is the new head coach of the softball program at Cal State Northridge. Flowers begins her new duties at Cal State Northridge after serving the past four seasons (2007-10) as an assistant softball coach at Big West rival Long Beach State.
As a member of the 49ers coaching staff, Flowers helped the team to two NCAA Tournament appearances and Top-25 rankings on numerous occasions. Flowers helped coach 29 Big West All-Conference selections and six Academic All-Americans. As a team, Long Beach State set numerous and individual school records including batting average, runs batted in, doubles, triples and walks.
ANOTHER SEASON, ANOTHER COACHING MILESTONE FOR GROMACKI
Cal State Fullerton head coach Michelle Gromacki is just the fourth coach in league history to win 350+ overall games and 150+conference outings during Big West membership. This season, Gromacki might not only lead the Titans to its 1,000th win as a member of the conference, but the 12th-year coach is also just 17 wins from 400 for her career.