Softball Takes On Two Top-5 Opponents This Weekend

Feb. 13, 2014

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The Last Meeting
San Jose State2
Arizona State5
May 17, 2013
Tempe, Ariz.
THIS WEEK

Tournament: Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.
Venues: Farrington Softball Stadium (FAR) at Arizona State University, Tempe Sports Park

Fri., Feb. 14 – 11:15 a.m. (MT) – Michigan State (FAR)
Fri., Feb. 14 – 2:30 p.m. (MT) – No. 3 Washington (TSP)
Sat., Feb. 15 – 9:00 a.m. (MT) – Illinois State (FAR)
Sat., Feb. 15 – 3:45 p.m. (MT) - No. 5 Arizona State (FAR)

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. - The San José State University softball team returns to Arizona State for the Littlewood Tournament after winning its first season-opening tournament in program history at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, hosted by the Sun Devils. On Fri., Feb. 13 at 11:15 a.m. (MT), the Spartans face Michigan State, then face the first of two top-5 teams they encounter this weekend in No. 3/3 Washington for a 2:30 p.m. (MT) game. On Sat., Feb. 15, San José State competes against Illinois State at 9:00 a.m. (MT) and closes out the tournament against No. 5/5 Arizona State at 3:45 p.m. (MT).

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Live coverage for all of this week’s games is available through SJSUSpartans.com. Live stats for each game is provided with links on SJSUSpartans.com. Additionally, live video for the Arizona State game is available through the PAC-12 Network website, and live audio is available through the Illinois State and Washington websites (link on SJSUSpartans.com).

LAST TIME OUT

Last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic, San José State went 6-0, sweeping the first season-opening tournament in program history. The team’s opening game against Creighton was a sign of things to come. The Spartans scattered 15 hits and Sharon-Renae Estrada bombed a grand slam, yielding an 11-2 victory. In day two, San José State scored 11 runs in games against CSU Northridge (11-4) and Seattle U (11-7), marking the first time since 1994 that the Spartans scored 10+ runs in three-straight games. Day three saw come-from-behind victories against Cal Poly in eight innings (6-5) and Indiana (10-7). In the weekend’s final game, against Bradley, the team scored eight runs in the sixth inning en route to an 8-4 victory, leading to a 6-0 tournament sweep.

COACH’S CORNER

Last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic, the Spartans were one of three teams (No. 22/20 Stanford and No. 7 Arizona State) to sweep their opponents. The team scored double-digit runs in three-straight games for the first time since 1994, besting opponents by a 57–29 margin.

“For a young team, I thought we played extremely well for our first weekend,” head coach Peter Turner said. “We did a good job minimizing mistakes and maximizing bats.”

San José State’s success last weekend was due in part to strong play at the plate, as four players posted batting averages above .400. “The team had quality at bats that led to scoring opportunities,” Turner said. “We forced opponents to make mistakes on hit balls.”

While Turner was pleased with the Spartans’ pitching corps, he noted that there is work to do before the Littlewood Tournament. “At times, we looked excellent,” he said. “Our ball-to-strike ratio was where it needed to be. However, we need to focus on getting ahead in the count.”

Defensively, the team was solid, recording a .965 fielding percentage. “We did an excellent job, save for a few minor mistakes,” Turner said.

Turner noted that this weekend will be another tough test. “I am confident that the team will compete at a higher level than they competed last weekend.”

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

The Spartans (2-1) dropped its first game of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic against Stetson, but rebounded with a pair of 5-0 and 9-0 shutouts in a doubleheader against Rhode Island. Kassidy Kujawa led Michigan State at the plate during the tournament, averaging .571 in her three starts with a 1.429 slugging percentage and four RBI. In 11.0 innings of work, Kelly Smith recorded a 1.91 ERA with 14 strikeouts. Jacquie Joseph is in her 21st season at the Spartans’ head coach.

NO. 3/3 WASHINGTON HUSKIES

The No. 3/3 Huskies (5-0) were a hitting powerhouse at the UNLV/Sportco Kick-Off Classic, sweeping the tournament with wins against No. 16/18 Baylor, among others, with nine players averaging .400 or higher. Kylee Lahners was Washington’s most powerful hitter, blasting three home runs in each of the team’s first three games, posting a 1.067 slugging percentage and 13 RBI on the weekend. In the circle, Kailin Inglesby pitched 14.0 innings without allowing a run. Head coach Heather Tarr is in her 10th season. 

ILLINOIS STATE REDBIRDS

The Redbirds (1-3) are facing its second tough weekend in a row after suffering three losses to 2013 NCAA Tournament teams. Despite the losses, Illinois State posted the lowest team ERA in the Missouri Valley Conference (3.37) during the opening weekend and were led by 2013 NFCA All-Mideast Region First Team honoree Laura Canopy. She leads the team with a .375 average and a .615 on base percentage. Melinda Fischer is in her 29th season as the Redbirds’ head coach.

NO. 5/5 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

The No. 5/5 Sun Devils (6-0) are showing no signs of slowing down after their Women’s College World Series appearance last season. At the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, Arizona State outscored opponents 48-3, led by the performances of a stellar pitching staff and superb hitting. Reigning PAC-12 Pitcher of the Week, Dallas Escobedo went 3-0 with two complete game shutouts over the weekend. Cheyenne Coyle posted a 1.313 slugging percentage with three home runs and 11 RBI. In his first season at the helm of the Sun Devils’ program is Craig Nicholson.

SPARTANS SWEEP MOUNTAIN WEST WEEKLY PLAYER HONORS

The San José State University softball team swept Mountain West weekly honors for the season’s opening week, as Allison Lang was named the Pitcher of the Week and Jessie Hufstetler earned Hitter of the Week accolades for February 3-9 following their respective performances at the Kajikawa Classic, hosted by Arizona State.

At the Kajikawa Classic, Jessie Hufstetler, a sophomore, averaged .700 (14-for-20). She posted a 1.150 slugging percentage and .769 on-base percentage, scoring 13 runs. She collected six RBI and bombed two home runs, while striking out just once in 20 at-bats.

Junior Allison Lang posted a 4-0 record with one save at the Kajikawa Classic, spending 16.2 innings in the circle. She allowed 15 hits and just two earned runs (0.84 ERA) in her six game appearances, striking out 11 batters.

Both players helped the Spartans sweep their season-opening tournament for the first time in program history. Additionally, the team's 11-2, 11-4 and 11-7 wins to open the Kajikawa Classic marked the first time the Spartans scored 10+ runs in three-straight games since 1994. The six-game weekend saw San José State average .343 and hit six home runs.

A TOURNAMENT FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

San José State’s exceptional showing at the Kajikawa Classic Feb. 6-9 was one for the ages. The Spartans opened the tournament with 11-2, 11-4 and 11-7 victories, marking the first time since 1994 that a San José State softball club scored 10-or-more runs in three-consecutive games. Additionally, the team swept its season-opening tournament for the first time in program history.

THE COMEBACK KIDS

At the Spartans’ season-opening tournament, the Kajikawa Classic, the team came from behind in every game to win. San José State has a 1-0 record when down in the second, a 2-0 record when behind in the third, a 1-0 record when trailing in the fourth and fifth and a 1-0 record when trailing in the sixth.

SPARTANS PICKED TO FINISH TIED FOR FOURTH IN MOUNTAIN WEST

The San José State University softball team was picked to finish tied for fourth with Colorado State in the Mountain West, following a vote by the conference's softball coaches. 2013 Mountain West

Conference champions San Diego State took the top spot with seven first-place votes. Fresno State, voted to a second-place finish, garnered two first-place votes.

NEW SPARTAN FACES

The 2014 Spartans are welcoming 10 newcomers to its roster: five transfers and five true freshmen. Three of the transfers, Brittanie Akey, Casey Lester and Erin Rodriguez, come to San José State from four-year institutions. Akey, who played her freshman season at UC Riverside, started all 55 games for the Highlanders and led the club in sacrifice flies and assists. In her 2013 freshman season, Lester started every game at La Salle, scoring the team’s second-most runs (21). Rodriguez played the 2013 season at Illinois State and made 12 relief appearances, going 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA.

SPARTAN CAREERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS

Two current Spartans have already carved their names into the program’s record books. Junior Michelle Cox has the school’s top batting average (.364) and on-base percentage (.439) and the

seventh-highest slugging percentage (.451). A swift base runner, she also has the second-best stolen base percentage (.868) and sixth-most stolen bases (46) in a San José State softball career. Senior Jessica Garcia has evolved into one of the program’s best fielders, holding the top spot for fielding percentage (.995) and stolen bases against percentage (.539). She also has the third-most sacrifice flies (7) and has driven in the fifth-most RBI (85).