Big West Softball Dominates Home Diamonds
Last week the Matadors went 3-2 at the San Diego Classic improving to a 4-16 overall record, while remaining the eighth seed in conference. Northridge welcomes Maine, Cal State Bakersfield, Harvard and Oregon State for a nine-game swing this week hosting the Northridge Classic, its first of back-to-back tournaments.
With a loss in the opener and closer of the tournament last week, Northridge was able to get the job done in three contests in-between. In their second game on Friday against Fresno State, the Matadors got five runs in the first inning to go ahead and take the win, 8-5. Starting catcher Mikayla Thiegles went 3-for-4 with two singles and an RBI accompanied by her two-run homer to centerfield. Thiegles has recorded six total home runs on the season for the most in the conference thus far. She finished play last week going 5-of-11, batting .455 with two home runs and five RBI.
UC Riverside closed out it’s second of four home tournaments at Matador Diamond. The Highlanders have posted a 6-2 home record in the past two tournaments improving to 7-11 overall, while holding a spot in the top five of conference standings. Riverside finished 3-1 last week as Alexis Pickett led the Highlanders going 5-of-11 with three RBI and four stolen bases. Freshman pitcher Taylor Alvarez tossed her first-career win in an 8-0 shutout to Portland State in the last day of play. The Highlanders continue their home play at the Amy S. Harrison Classic this week.
Three other teams will host this week, including UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.
BIG WEST PROGRESS
Another great start to the week as the Big West softball league has improved to a 54-99 overall record. A strong finish on Friday winning nine of the 12 matchups was a boost in hopes to keep it going throughout the remainder of tournament play. But that did not prove to be true as competition fell nine of 13 games on Saturday and five of nine games on Sunday. The conference went 18-28 on the week, looking to improve as they take on a packed schedule this week.
Five teams will play host this week, while the remaining three teams go on the road for their contests. There are a total of 52 matchups this week including four against top-25 teams – California, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA.
STRONG FINISH FOR PACIFIC
Finishing above .500 in its first home tournament, the Louisville Slugger Invitational, Pacific continues to hold the reigns in standings improving to 9-8 after a 3-2 week from home field. Pacific saw Sacramento State in two contests and ranked opponent Washington in its only losses on the week. Against Sacramento State the Tigers put up 19 runs compared to the Hornets 10. In the first day of tournament play, Nicole Matson came alive with three home runs, her first time posting two in a single contest.
Against No. 3 Washington, Pacific was unable to win the first matchup losing 5-4 and repeating the loss in the second meeting 6-4. The Tigers recorded seven errors in their play against the Huskies, keeping them from coming out on top against the nationally ranked opponent. The Tigers hit the road this week to play in the Diamond Devil Invitational before coming back home to host the Libby Matson Tournament, March 22-25.
The Big West showed determination till the very end last week, recording three extra-inning games. Riverside started with a tied ballgame in the tournament opener against Maine to come out on top after a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth. Maine got on the board first in extra innings, but the Highlanders answered right back with a three-run homer by Kaylie Atkinson. Riverside was able to post one more run for the 4-3 win over Maine in the eighth inning.
Long Beach started last week off with a double-header against Maine. The 49ers lost the first game and pushed the second to extra innings, but unable to come up with a run in a 3-2 loss to the Black Bears. The extra-innings against Maine was followed by a long contest against Nevada, taking it to the tenth. In their first and only win of the tournament, Cya Newal went 3-of-6 with the game-winning RBI to put the 49ers over Nevada 6-5. Erin Jones-Wesley threw the complete game, picking up her seventh win of the season, and tenth complete-game tossed. Long Beach has recorded hree extra-inning battles this season so far, coming out with the win in two of those three contests.
FULLERTON LEADS IN OFFENSE
Cal State Fullerton leads the Big West in a variety of offensive categories bringing in the highest batting average (.284), the most runs scored (91) and highest on-base percentage (.362). With the highest on-base percentage, the Titans are second in the conference by one in steals (28 of 35), pushing across 74 runs batted in this season. Fullerton has recorded 155 hits, consisting of 23 doubles, five triples and seven home runs. Fullerton is led by Ashley Carter (.356) and Morgan LeMond (.339) offensively, both ranked in the top ten for batting average in the Big West Conference. Carter is third in the league for total plate appearances (79) and first in hits (26).
BIG WEST BEING “WATCHED”
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced February 1st that Pacific junior pitcher/utility Nikki Armagost has been selected to the Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
Now in its 11th year, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, given by the National Governing Body for softball in the United States, recognizes outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.
As a sophomore, Armagost was named the 2011 Big West Player of the Year as well as an All-Big West First Team honoree and a Second Team All-Region award winner. Armagost was a vital two-way player in helping Pacific capture the 2011 Big West championship. She ended the season posting a .367 average with 65 hits, and went 19-11 overall in the circle with a 2.66 ERA.
MOORE MAKES NATIONAL TEAM
Junior catcher Amy Moore will be the first player in Tigers’ program history to be an active player on the roster of a national team. Moore was one of 16 players to be named to the 2012 Great Britain National Team on February 17 to represent Great Britain at the Canadian Cup in Vancouver during the Summer of 2012.
Moore will join the Great Britain squad at the conclusion of her junior season at Pacific to play for the currently ranked No. 11 squad in the world and No. 3 in Europe. The Canadian Cup is used as a warm up for the 2012 World Championships played in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada among the top 16 teams from around the world.
ESPNU & ESPN3
In collaboration with ESPN and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Big West Conference launched a ten-game distribution package on ESPN3 this past Fall. The first appearance for Big West women’s softball will be the double-header at Cal State Fullerton against Long Beach State for conference play on May 5 at 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm on ESPNU. The second double-header televised will be a LBSU at Pacific battle on May 11, slated for 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm on ESPN3.
This year’s package included a volleyball match, two baseball, two men’s basketball, two women’s basketball, one MPSF men’s volleyball and two softball games. The addition of games on ESPN3 extends ESPN’s current five-year deal with the Big West, which continues through the 2012-13 season.
ESPN3 is currently available in more than 70 million households through computers, tablets and smart phones and in 25 million households via Xbox gaming consoles.
BACK FOR MORE
Three-year All-Big West First-Team recipient Alex Holmes will return to the Aggies’ dugout this season but in a different capacity. Holmes will be returning as a student-assistant coach under head coach Karen Yoder. While on the Davis’ lineup Holmes made club and conference rankings including national recognition from NCAA Division I statistics with eight triples in 2011.