Big West Softball Concludes Non-Conference Competition
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Despite a few non-conference games in mid conference play, the tournament competition has come to an end and the Big West Conference competition begins this week. March 31st marks the first official day of conference play as only two teams are heading into league competition over .500. Big West coach’s preseason polls predicted Long Beach State as co-champions for the Big West regular season title, but struggles this preseason with an overall record of 12-18 compared to last seasons 22-10 posts different.
Long Beach is accompanied by league opponents in decreased standings compared to last season, but Pacific has maintained it’s stellar competition, as well as UC Riverside improving to a 15-15 overall record compared to last season 7-16 at this point.
49ER GETS IT DONE
Erin Jones-Wesley continues to get the job done for the 49ers with the solo win for Long Beach last week. In a midweek matchup against Loyola Marymount, Jones-Wesley pitched her way to a 5-2 win in her 17th complete game tossed this season. Jones-Wesley (12-9) picked up her fourth win in her last five decisions. She scattered six hits while striking out three and walking just one.
Jones-Wesley leads the team starting 20 of the 25 games played so far on the season with a 12-9 record and 2.47 ERA. Jones-Wesley is the sole owner of each of the 49ers wins this season as the team has collected an 12-18 record thus far. She leads the league in innings pitched (133.1), wins (12), most starts (20) and ranks second in league-leading ERA (2.47).
The 49ers closed non-conference action on a strong note after losing out on four games the previous week due to weather conditions. Long Beach will head to UC Santa Barbara for their first conference play March 31st-April 1st.
TIGERS CLAW TO THE TOP
Preseason poll co-champion pick, the Pacific Tigers continue to show that they deserve the top spot in Big West Conference play. They closed play last week hosting the Libby Matson Tournament winning four of their five contests over four days played. The outstanding performance granted them their first weekly sweep of Big West Player and Pitcher of the Week, presented to Nikki Armagost and Tori Shepard.
In a five-game tournament, the Tigers outscored their opponents 20-7, with two shutouts to start and end the tournament. In their first matchup, sophomore Tori Shepard pitched a one-hit shutout against Princeton to collect her fifth win on the season. To finish the tournament the Tigers competed against Saint Mary’s in a doubleheader, losing the first game 3-1, but bounced right back for a 7-0 shutout to close the home tournament.
Playing one less matchup this season (18-10) compared to the 2010-2011 season (18-11) at this point, the Tigers have mirrored their overall preseason record. Head Coach, Brian Kolze entered the season with 580 career wins, looking to clinch the 600 mark. Kolze is currently two wins away from 600 career wins, still second in Big West history for most career wins. Pacific will concluded non-conference play with a midweek doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday before taking on Cal State Northridge in their first conference competition.
RIVERSIDE MAKES FINAL PUSH
The Highlanders played host for their final four-game competition of non-conference competition in the UCR Tournament. UC Riverside managed to bounce back from the tournament opener loss against Colorado State, 10-2 in six innings by winning their final three games to improve to 15-15 overall, to be the second team in the Big West Conference to hold a winning record this season going into conference matchups.
Riverside will finish their preseason play and 22-home game stint against Cal Sate Bakersfield on Wednesday for two games before traveling to UC Davis for their first conference competitor this season.
MUSTANGS LOSE ON HOME FIELD
Cal Poly hosted the Mustang Classic last week where they were unable to collect a win, falling to a 7-18 overall record going into conference play this week. Last season the Mustangs were able to walk away with one win against Fairfield in a six-game schedule in the same tournament. While losing each contest last week, Cal Poly was able to keep it close in three of their five matchups, losing by 3 runs or less.
They will conclude non-conference competition against No. 14 in the country, UCLA on Tuesday in a doubleheader starting at 1 PM before turning around and hosting their first league competition of the season, Cal State Fullerton.
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.