Softball Enters Stretch Run
Weekly Softball Release No. 13
Long Beach State closes in on a championship, the Big West finds five schools approaching the 30-win mark, and Cal State Fullerton hosts UC Davis on ESPN3 as the softball stretch run begins.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
On The Verge Of 30: Victories in seven of their last nine games have lifted the Mustangs 10 games above .500 (28-18). Cal Poly seeks its first 30-win season since finishing 41-12 in 2009 and winning the Big West championship. The Mustangs currently sit in third place, and trail league-leader Long Beach State by four games. Cal Poly travels to LBSU for a crucial Big West series this weekend.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Hitting Machines: Cal State Fullerton ranks No. 2 in the Big West with a .293 average. It is the highest average by a Titan team since the 2000 and 2001 squads batted .304 and .298, respectively. Four Titans are hitting above .300, including sophomore Missy Taukeiaho, who is No. 2 in the Big West at .415. Senior Leesa Harris (.369), senior Ariel Tsuchiyama (.319) and sophomore Samantha Galarza (.303) also are Titan regulars hitting above .300.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Buzzsaw: Cal State Northridge struggled last week against first-place Long Beach State, outscored 26-3 in the three-game sweep. The Matadors have lost eight of their last 11 games, but can clinch their first 30-win season since 2010 during this weekend’s series at Hawai‘i. CSUN needs just one win to accomplish the feat.
LONG BEACH STATE
Tautalafua In Pursuit Of Records: Long Beach State sophomore Darian Tautalafua is on the hunt for a pair of school records. Her 12 home runs rank fourth in single-season history, just two away from tying Lauren Johnson’s record of 14 (2005). After hitting 13 bombs as the Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year in 2013, Tautalafua’s 25 career homers rank second in LBSU history, trailing only Nalani St. Germain (30, 2010-13).
Cruse Control: Freshman pitcher Dana Cruse tossed 12 consecutive scoreless innings against UC Riverside last week and picked up a pair of wins. Cruse hurled a complete game three-hit shutout in the series opener as the Aggies earned a 3-0 victory.
Productive Sanchez: Sophomore Natalie Sanchez has provided good production from the middle of the Highlander lineup. The catcher has driven in a run in six of the last eight games, and has at least one hit in seven of them over the same span.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Wisdom Nears Record: Junior Shelby Wisdom, who has started 13 straight games in the circle for the Gauchos, improved to 18-13 on the year after tallying a pair of wins against Hawai‘i. With 59 career victories, Wisdom is approaching the UCSB record of 62 held by Sandy Ortigies (1984-87).
Le’ili’i Keeps Raking: Junior Leisha Li‘ili‘i has recorded three straight double-digit home run season. Her 14 roundtrippers this season rank No. 2 in the Big West and are tied for seventh in the conference’s single-season record book.
Three Finalists For NFCA Freshman Of The Year: The Big West boasts three representatives for the inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year trophy – UC Santa Barbara outfielder Kristen Clark, Cal State Northridge outfielder Taylor Glover and Cal Poly pitcher/designated player Sierra Hyland.
The three inclusions on the 25-member list ranks the Big West third among conferences for most representation.
The 25-player list will be trimmed to the top 10 finalists on Thursday, May 8, while the top 3 finalists will be announced on Thursday, May 22. The winner will be presented on May 27 during a live ceremony prior to the start of the College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Hyland’s Historic Season Propels Mustangs: Cal Poly freshman pitcher Sierra Hyland is having one of the finest seasons in school history. Joining two-time All-American Desarie Knipfer (1997) as the only two pitchers to log 200 strikeouts, 200 innings and 20 wins in a single season, Hyland is also chasing a handful of school records.
The one record in imminent danger of falling is the single-season strikeout record, 253, set by Knipfer in 1998. Hyland has 241 K’s with six regular season games to go. Hyland also could erase a pair of records that Anna Cahn owns from the 2009 season. Cahn’s 33 starts and 252.2 innings pitched are within range of Hyland, who has tallied 30 starts and 230.0 innings.
Clark Breaks Hits Record: UC Santa Barbara freshman Kristen Clark notched her fourth four-hit game in the series finale against Hawai‘i, giving her a school single-season record 76. She broke the record of 75 set by current assistant coach Christine Ramos in 2009. Clark, who also notched three hits in game one of the UH series, leads the Big West with 24 multi-hit games.
Clark has at least one hit in all but eight games this season. Her .425 average not only leads the conference, but is good enough to break another Ramos single-season record from 2009 (.417).
Simply The Best: UC Riverside senior Dionne Anderson adds to her Big West single-season stolen base record after swiping three more bases in the UC Davis series last week. Her record climbed to 44, a total that ranks No. 3 nationally. With seven steals in her last seven games, Anderson is now firmly entrenched at No. 2 in Big West career history with 83.
ESPN3 Cameras Visit Fullerton: Cal State Fullerton hosts UC Davis for an ESPN3 doubleheader on Saturday. It is the second visit for ESPN3 to Anderson Family Field. On April 17, the Titans and Long Beach State split a doubleheader. Currently 27-20-1 overall and in fourth place in the Big West (8-7), the Titans are the Big West’s second-highest ranked team in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) at No. 53.
Taukeiaho Climbs Home Run Chart: Sophomore Missy Taukeiaho slammed her 15th home run of the season, a solo shot against Cal Poly, to extend her league-leading total. The homer also lifted Taukeiaho into a tie for fifth place in the Big West single-season record book with UNLV’s Kim Rondina (1995). Taukeiaho now eyes Cal Poly’s Lisa Modglin (2007), who is fourth on the list with 16 homers.
30-For-30: The Big West is seeking four 30-win programs for the first time since the 2007 season. Long Beach State is already there with a 36-13 record. But UC Santa Barbara (30-18), Cal State Northridge (29-22), Cal Poly (28-18) and Cal State Fullerton (27-20-1) are all closing in on the mark. The last time at least five schools logged 30 victories in one season? That was 1997 – when six programs achieved the mark.