Big West Softball With Four Tied For First
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For the first week in conference play there was no sweep among the Big West softball opponents, all splitting the series with a 2-1 win over their competitor. With that came major shifts in the standings that leave us going into the final half of conference play with a four-way tie for first between, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific. Pacific lost their series to UC Santa Barbara giving up the solo lead as all four competitors have a 8-4 conference record going into the last three weeks of battle.
Cal State Fullerton holds the sole possession of fifth with a 5-7 record in league matchups, while Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge are tied for sixth, deadlocked at 4-8 a piece in conference play, with UC Riverside sitting at 3-9. UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis will go head-to-head this week both tied in a first place dual, with the winner advancing to 10-5.
UCSB COMPETES AGAINST NO. 1
The Gauchos topped the No. 1 seed Pacific Tigers last week winning the series 2-1 after a extended game on day one and an early finish on day two. Going into the contest the Gauchos carried a 28-14 overall record against the Tigers and a 7-2 mark in Big West play, although the Tigers had swept Santa Barbara in its last two meetings in 2010 and 2011. But coming off a three-game sweep the Gauchos were set for competition, taking the first game into an extra inning. Shelby Wisdom carried a shutout into the top of the seventh inning before a single to the right side past the infield. It was Kathryn Pilpil’s walk-off, two-out double that scored Brooke Putich in the bottom of the eighth to win it for the Gauchos, 3-2.
Santa Barbara lost the second game of the doubleheader but came back to run-rule the Tigers in a 11-2 victory in five innings on Sunday. Shelby Wisdom recorded a three-run homer to start the rally for the Gauchos. Allison Taylor, Keilani Jennings and Lainey DePompa all had two hits a piece, that drove in a total 10 of the 11 runs scored by Santa Barbara. The Gauchos now sit in a four-way tie for first going into this week against competitor for first, UC Davis.
HIGHLANDERS GO DISTANCE
Riverside recorded their first series win of the 2012 season taking a 2-1 advantage over Cal State Northridge. This is just the second series victory for the Highlanders over Cal State Fullerton in the program’s Division I history, the only other time when the Highlanders won two of the three against the Titans was in 2010. Designative player for Riverside, Jessica Vasser went 4-for-6 in the doubleheader and 5 RBI, with help from Kayla White who had four hits for the day. In the final game, the Titans pushed for a 5-4 win over the Highlanders, but one win short to take the series.
UC Riverside leads the league on the bases with 79 stolen base attempts while coming out on top with a successful 66 extra bases. They are second in the league for on base percentage (.360), and nationally are ranked No. 35 averaging 1.5 stolen bases per game. Ariel Shore leads the Highlanders with 14 of her 17 attempts at an extra base successful. Kayla White follows teammate with a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases this season.
Riverside advances to 3-9 in Big West play while the Titans remain ahead at 5-7. The Higlanders will face Pacific in their next conference competition as the Tigers are in a four-way tie for first.
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 (18), innings pitched (210.2), games started (28) and game appearances (41). She is also ranked nationally sitting at No. 44 for her 18 wins on the season and 30th for her 192 strikeouts thus far. Not too far behind is freshman competitor Justine Vela, who collected her third Big West Pitcher of the Week honor for her two-game shutouts last week. Vela leads the league in holding her opponents to a .197 batting average with 201 strikeouts for the season. Her ability to blow it by those in the box garners her the No. 23 spot in NCAA rankings for overall strikeouts, as well as No. 10 for her 9.3 average strikeouts per seven innings.
Jones-Wesley pitched twelve innings this past week to split against conference competitor, Cal State Northridge. The 2011 Big West pitcher of the Year, Erin Jones-Wesley has the conference leading 2.21 ERA while holding the team high 15 wins for the 49ers.
Also to be recognized is Tori Shepard of the Tigers that leads the conference in saves (7), while ranked No. 3 nationally.
TIGERS DOMINATE OFFENSIVELY
Despite the series loss against UC Santa Barbara last week, the Tigers continue to show power at the plate topping multiple standings for Big West softball. The Tigers lost two of their three conference matchups this weekend to the Gauchos, dropping to a four-way tie for first. With a rough start in the first game the Tigers picked up the second win of the day with a four-run lead 6-2. Megan Foglesong and Taylor Petty led the way for the Tigers on the day, contributing four of the six runs scored in the second contest. Foglesong finished going 4-for-6 with three RBI in the Tiger win, while Petty went 5-for-7 leading the Tigers with a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate against the Gauchos in game two. The Tiger’s dropped the deciding game on Sunday, 11-2 in five innings, just the second time this season the Tiger’s have been run-ruled by their opponent.
As a team the Tiger’s lead the conference in batting average (.314), slugging percentage (.458), on base percentage (.397), runs scored (236), hits (370), runs batted in (211), doubles (74) and home runs (31). Ranked nationally at No. 20 for batting average (.314) and No. 5 in the nation for doubles per game (1.64). 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. 36 for her 0.98 RBI per game and 52nd for home runs per game (0.27). Matson leads the league in home runs with 12 of the Tigers total 31 on the season.
Nikki Armagost leads the league with a .412 batting average with a league high 16 doubles on the season. In the circle she holds the third-highest ERA in the conference (2.40) in her 17 starts for the Tigers this season.
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.