Softball Opens 2011 Season At Kajikawa Classic

Who is thinking about spring sports in February with the wonderful weather we are having in San Jose right now?  The Spartan softball team loves this weather as their season starts this weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.  San Jose State will play its first five games (Thursday-Saturday) at the Tempe Sports Complex, while the Sunday's game will be at Arizona State's Farrington Stadium.


The Spartans will face five opponents over four days at the tournament.  The team faces Mississippi on Thursday at 6 p.m. MST/5 p.m. PST.  The Lady Rebels finished the 2010 season with a 29-27 record and are coached by former Spartan assistant Missy (Phillips) Dickerson (2001-02) who begins her sixth year at the school.


On Friday, San Jose State faces Cal State Northridge at 9:30 a.m. MST/8:30 a.m. PST, and Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. MST/1:30 p.m. PST.  The Matadors finished the 2010 campaign with a 31-22 record and a 15-6 Big West mark.  The reigning Big West Champions, CSUN returns four first team All-Big West honorees and have a new head coach, Tairia Flowers.


The Huskers finished 30-29 in 2010 and return eight field starters and much of their pitching staff.  Head coach Rhonda Revelle, a former Spartan assistant coach in the early 1990s, is in her 19th year at the school.


The Spartans then face Appalachian State Saturday at 9:30 a.m. MST/8:30 a.m. PST.  The 2010 Mountaineers finished the year with a 27-25 record and an 11-12 Southern Conference mark.  Head coach Shae Wesley is in her third year at the school. 


San Jose State then faces Portland State at 12:00 p.m. MST/11:00 a.m. PST Saturday.  The Vikings went 30-27 last year and 18-2 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Mountain Division.  Head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk is in her third year at the helm of the program and was a two-time second team All-American at Nebraska.


Rounding out the tournament schedule, the Spartans face #13/10 Arizona State Sunday at 1:30 p.m. MST/12:30 p.m. PST.  The Sun Devils finished last season with a 44-17 record and a 10-11 Pac-10 mark.  Head coach Clint Myers returns for his sixth year at the helm of the program and returns 19 letterwinners from last year's team.


Four of the five Spartan games will live stats available for fans, while the Nebraska and Portland State games will also have live audio.  Links to live stats and audio can be found on the San Jose State website on the softball schedule page.


Spartan head coach Peter Turner returns for his fifth year at the helm of the program.  He led San Jose State to a 34-25 record in 2010, just the seventh time in school history that a Spartan team recorded 30 or more wins in a season.  The 34 wins tied for the third highest total in school history.  Turner begins the year with a 102-125 coaching record after recording his 100th win last season in a 2-1 win over New Mexico State on May 5, at SJSU Field.


The Spartans return just seven letterwinners from last year's team.  Top returning hitters include Breanna Lopez who hit .313 with 21 hits and four home runs.  BranDee Garcia hit .217 in 51 games played with 26 hits, three doubles and three home runs and was a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases. 


The pitching staff will be without the services of Amanda Pridmore, who led the 2010 team with an 18-12 record, 3.27 ERA, four saves and 151strikeouts.  Returning to the circle are Jennifer Ames and Elyssa Fox, while freshmen Janessa Gutierrez and Alex Molina joins the staff.  Gutierrez had a 0.98 ERA and a 16-4 record at Rio Mesa High School.  Molina was a two-time first team All-Central California Conference selection and pitched three no-hitters her senior year at Buhach Colony High School.


This year's team will be one of the youngest under Turner with 11 true freshmen on the roster and one redshirt freshman.  Jessica Garcia was a 2010 second team Cal-High Sports All-State selection at catcher at Redlands High School.   She hit .460 her senior year and holds the school's career hits, runs scored and home run records.  Sadie Coenen was a 2010 third team all-state selection at Johansen High School in Modesto where she had a .400 career batting average.  Jacqueline Zepeda was a 2010 second-team All-State honoree and the MVP of the Bay Valley Athletic League while playing at Freedom high School.  Annica Wolfe hit over .400 in her career at Rio Mesa High School and was a three-time first team All-Pacific View League honoree.  Mariah Nisbet earned three first team All-East Bay Athletic League honors while playing at California High School in San Ramon.  Britney Helm led her Torrance High School team to a 22-10 record in 2010 and was a first team All-CIF Division IV selection.  Nikki Chapman was a three-time All-Trinity League selection while playing at Orange Lutheran High School.  Kailey Mertz was a two-time All-Empire League selection at Kennedy High School (Buena Park, Calif.)  Cristina Menjivar played at Archbishop Mitty High School where the team was the top-ranked team in the country her junior year.