San Jose, Calif. – The San José State Spartans softball team, 2017 Mountain West Conference Champions, begin the defense of its title this weekend at the 2018 Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona.
To open the season the Spartans, who won the first postseason game in program history in last year’s NCAA Softball Regional, will play six games over four days in the Arizona desert.
Sandwiched between contests against South Dakota and UTEP, San José State will play four games against Power-5 teams Missouri, Tennessee, Purdue and Indiana.
2018 Kajikawa Classic
|Thursday, February 8|
|vs. South Dakota||4:45 p.m. (MT)|
|vs. Missouri||7:15 p.m. (MT)|
|Friday, February 9|
|vs. #11/12 Tennessee||2:15 p.m. (MT)|
|vs. Purdue||7:30 p.m. (MT)|
|Saturday, February 10|
|vs. Indiana||7:45 p.m. (MT)|
|Sunday, February 11|
|vs. UTEP||2:00 p.m. (MT)|
All SJSU’s games in the Kajikawa Classic will be contested at the Tempe Sports Complex (8401 South Hardy Drive, Tempe, Ariz., 85284). Live stats and fee-based streaming video, where available, will be linked to the Spartans schedule page at www.sjsuspartans.com.
South Dakota Coyotes
South Dakota finished last season 22-32, 10-8 in Summit League play and did not participate in the postseason.
Jessica Rogers batted .346 in 2017 and returns as the squads top hitter. Emily Winckler was the leading home run hitter and run producer with six and 40, respectively.
In the circle, South Dakota lost their entire staff. Transfer from Phoenix (Ariz.) College Dustie Durham, has the most experience. She was 23-3, has 129 strikeouts and 1.88 ERA.
This will be the first meeting between these two programs.
Missouri finished last season 29-28, 7-16 in SEC play. They competed in the NCAA Eugene Regional and were swept out in two games. The Tigers fired head coach Ehren Earleywine and replaced him with interim Gina Fogue ten days ago.
Regan Nash batted .340 in 2017 and returns as the squads top hitter. Braxton Burnside was the leading home run hitter and run producer with 12 and 52, respectively.
In the circle, Madi Norman and Danielle Baumgartner are the top returners. Norman (7-10 with a 4.08 ERA) struck out 89 in 108.0 innings last year. Baumgartner was 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA and struckout 50 in 73.0 innings.
This will be the sixth meeting between these two programs, with the Tigers holding a 5-0 advantage in the all-time series.
#11/12 Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee finished last season 48-12, 16-7 in SEC play. They reached the NCAA Super Regional, but lost to Texas A&M two games to one.
Meghan Gregg batted .437, hit 15 homers, drove in 79 runs to lead her team last year. In addition, she the led the Tigers in hits (73) and doubles (18).
In the circle, Tennessee returns their top two pitchers. Matty Moss was 26-3 with a 1.76 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 194.2 innings. Caylan Arnold was nearly as impressive. She went 20-9 with a 2.01 ERA and in 156.2 innings struck out 144.
This will be the sixth meeting between these two programs. Tennessee holds a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series. SJSU won the first meeting, 3-1 in 2003, but has dropped the last four.
Purdue finished last season 20-36, 9-14 in Big Ten play and did not participate in the postseason.
Mallory Baker batted .350 in 2017 and returns as the squads top hitter. She led the team in RBIs (29) and doubles (10). The Boilermakers don’t have a lot of pop, but manufacture runs as evidenced by their success in 64-of-75 stolen base attempts last season. However, they have lost Kristen Hoppman who was 26-of-27 swiping bases last year.
In the circle, Purdue returns their top two pitchers. Kaitlynn Moody was 8-14 with a 3.63 EAR in 146.2 innings and struck out 73. Maddie Damon tossed 119.2 innings, posted a 3.98 ERA with 59 strikeouts while going 8-11.
This will be the fifth meeting between these two programs. The all-time series is split 2-2. The Spartans won the first two matchups, but lost the last two and this will be the first meeting since the 2007 season.
Indiana finished last season 23-31, 9-14 in Big Ten play and did not participate in the postseason.
Rebecca Blitz batted .333 with 54 hits in 2017 and returns as the squads top hitter. Taylor Uden lead the team in RBIs and ranked second in home runs with 35 and seven, respectively.
In the circle, Tara Trainer led the tema with a 3.17 ERA and a 13-17 record. She struckout 173 in 174.2 innings and is back to lead the staff.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two programs with Indiana holding a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series. The last meeting, in 2014, resulted in the Spartans earning a 10-7 victory.
UTEP finished last season 12-36, 6-18 in Conference USA play and did not participate in the postseason.
Courtney Smith batted .364 in 2017 and returns as the squads top hitter. In addition, Smith led the Miners in runs (26) and homers (8). With 28 RBI last year, Kaitlin Ryder returns as the team’s top run producer.
In the circle, Devyn Cretz returns as UTEP’s top pitcher. She was 5-7 last year with a 5.51 ERA. In 61.0 innings she struck out 42 batters.
This will be the 15th meeting between these two programs with the Spartans holding a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series. SJSU has defeated UTEP in each of its last three meetings.