Pacific Garners Familiar First Place in Big West
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Two conference matchups last week ended with a sweep as Pacific received its second consecutive and UC Santa Barbara took the 3-0 series win from opponent UC Riverside. Pacific has taken it’s familiar position at the top of the standings after the third week of conference play with a 7-2 Big West record and 28-14 overall. Close behind Pacific is a three-way tie sitting at 6-3 in league play between UC Davis, Long Beach State, and UC Santa Barbara. Cal State Fullerton holds steady at five (4-5 Big West) and Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge are fighting for the sixth spot notched at 3-6 a piece.
This week’s matchups mark the halfway point in series contest with three weeks played, followed by just three more weeks at the conclusion of this week. The match to watch is UC Santa Barbara playing host to Pacific as the Gauchos will look to make the push to the top just one game behind the Tigers. Last season Pacific swept the Gauchos in three games at the Tigers home field, while holding a 65-38 winning record over Santa Barbara.
TIGERS DOMINATE OFFENSIVELY
The Tigers posted their second-consecutive sweep last week against Cal State Fullerton, garnering their spot at the top of conference standings (7-2), one game ahead of three conference foes tied for second (6-3). Pacific continued their offense dominance in a come-from-behind win in the first game against Santa Clara in a midweek doubleheader. On the week the Tigers were 4-1, splitting at home against Santa Clara before sweeping conference play.
As a team the Tiger’s lead the conference in batting average (.315), slugging percentage (.462), on base percentage (.398), runs scored (227), hits (348), runs batted in (203), doubles (70) and home runs (30). Ranked nationally at No. 24 for batting average (.315) and No. 6 in the nation for doubles per game (1.7). Individually the Tigers dominate as well with Nicole Matson and Megan Hom taking the lead on most stats.
Starting senior Matson is just 6 RBI short of the tying her Big West career-record 50 RBI in a single season sitting in the sixth spot. For the No. 1 spot in conference history Matson would have to obtain 15 more RBI on the season as Jenny Topping (59) holds the record from her 2001 season at Cal State Fullerton. Nationally Matson is ranked No. 26 for her 1.05 RBI per game and No. 26 for her 12 home runs on the season. Matson leads the league in home runs with 12 of the Tigers total 30 on the season.
Nikki Armagost leads the league with a .429 batting average with a league high 16 doubles on the season. In the circle she holds the second-highest ERA in the conference (2.49) in her 16 starts for the Tigers this season.
Teammate, junior outfielder, Megan Hom found herself on the leader board last season for her career batting average of .367 for ninth in all-time Big West history. At this point in the season Hom has improved to an impressive .423 average for the No. 2 slot in all-time career batting average in the conference.
MUSTANGS IMPROVE AT HOME
Cal Poly collected two home wins last week to improve to 3-10 at the Bob Janssen Field. Earlier in the season the Mustangs struggled to clinch a victory in their hosting tournament heading into conference play with a 0-8 record at home. The Mustangs we able to collecting their first win against Cal State Fullerton in the first weekend of conference play on home turf, continued with a pair of wins last week. Cal Poly has back-to-back home series against conference foes, starting with a 2-1 series advantage over Cal State Northridge last week.
Despite the series opening loss on Saturday, the Mustangs were able to come back to with a pair of wins on Sunday to take the series over the Matadors. The two wins gave Cal Poly their first series win of the 2012 season. The Mustangs will host the Aggies in a three-game series where Cal Poly holds a 14-7 all-time advantage over UC Davis.
PITCHING STRIKES NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Rising Gaucho freshman, Shelby Wisdom takes the top slot in many categories for her outstanding performance in the circle across the league. Wisdom holds the most wins (16), innings pitched (190.2), batters struck out (183), games started (25) and game appearances (38). Wisdom collected all five wins for UC Santa Barbara last week and climbed the charts nationally ranked No. 24 with 183 strikeouts. Close behind is Aggie freshman Justine Vela with 182 strikeouts on the season to be ranked No. 26 nationally, while holding opponents to a league-leading low .206 batting average with a 2.54 ERA. Vela also averages 9.2 strikeouts per game for the No. 10 spot nationally.
Jones-Wesley pitched a three-hit shutout in the second contest against UC Davis last week, while collecting her second win of the season in the first contest at La Rue Field. The 2011 Big West pitcher of the Year, Erin Jones-Wesley has the conference leading 2.33 ERA while holding the team high 14 wins for the 49ers.
HIGHLANDERS HIT THE BASES
UC Riverside leads the league on the bases despite their 1-8 conference record and overall 18-24 record. The Highlanders have attempted 74 stolen bases while coming out on top with a successful 64 extra bases. They are third in the league for on base percentage (.357), and nationally are ranked No. 36 averaging 1.56 stolen bases per game.
Ariel Shore leads the Highlanders with 13 of her 15 attempts at an extra base a success. Kayla White follows teammate with a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases this season.
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.