Softball Looks To Continue Scoring At Historic Pace In Hawai'i

Feb. 20, 2014

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The Last Meeting
San Jose State3
Hawai'i22
February 15, 2013
Las Vegas, Nev.
The Last Meeting
Saint Mary's2
San Jose State10
February 23, 2013
San Jose, Calif.
THIS WEEK
Tournament: Bank of Hawai’i Invitational
Venues: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, University of Hawai’I, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Thurs., Feb. 20 – 6:00 p.m. (HT) – Hawai’i
Fri., Feb. 21 – 2:00 p.m. (HT) – North Carolina
Sat., Feb. 22 – 12:00 a.m. (HT) – Saint Mary’s
Sat., Feb. 22 – 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. (HT) – TBD
Sun., Feb. 23 – 10:00 a.m. (HT) – TBD

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. - The San José State University softball team heads to Honolulu this weekend for the Bank of Hawai’i Invitational, hosted by Hawai’i. On Thursday, February 20, the Spartans (7-3) open the tournament against hosts Rainbow Wahine at 6:00 p.m. (HT). The team then plays North Carolina on February 21 at 2:00 p.m. (HT). On February 22, the Spartans face Saint Mary’s at 12:00 p.m. (HT) and will either play at 4:00 p.m. (HT) or 6:00 p.m. (HT), depending on their seed in the tournament (game one is against the number two and three seeds and game two is against the number one and four seeds). The tournament closes on February 23, with the losers of game one and two playing at 10:00 a.m. (HT) and the winners of game one and two facing off at 12:00 p.m. (HT).

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Live stats are available for all of this week’s games through the University of Hawai’i, and live video for the Hawai'i game will be hosted through the Big West: http://www.bigwest.org/story.asp?story_id=16753. The live stat links for all games can be found here: http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=haw

LAST TIME OUT

At the Littlewood Tournament at Arizona State, Tempe was not as kind to the Spartans as it was during the season-opening Kajikawa Classic. San José State bested Michigan State, 7-2, in its first game on February 14 to extend its season-opening win streak to seven games. The team then fell in five innings to No. 3/3 Washington in their second game as a result of high-scoring innings by the Huskies. On February 15, the Spartans committed seven errors in a doubleheader against Illinois State and No. 5/5 Arizona State. The team fell to the Redbirds in five innings by an 11-3 margin after allowing 11 runs off of as many hits and three errors. Against the Sun Devils, San José State was held scoreless for five innings but was able to score four runs in the final two innings for the 7-4 loss, finishing the tournament, 1-3.

COACH’S CORNER

At the Littlewood Tournament last weekend, the Spartans posted a 1-3 record, losing two games to top-5 opponents. There were, however, aspects of the team’s performance with which head coach Peter Turner was pleased.

“Our hitting continues to be strong,” he said. “We get quality at bats and don’t throw away opportunities.”

Turner was also happy with the Spartans’ upperclassmen in the circle, specifically junior Allison Lang, who posted a 1.85 ERA in 11.1 innings of work, and sophomore Berlyn Rippentrop, who held opponents to a .143 batting average. “Allison Lang continues to have great outings,” Turner said. “I can see her carrying the torch and leading this team. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with Berlyn Rippentrop. She’s been good at throwing up zeros and continues to get outs.” 

The Spartans committed nine errors and Turner noted that his team will focus on defense ahead of the Bank of Hawai’i Invitational. “It wasn’t our best weekend in that facet of the game,” he said. “We need to focus on what we’re trained to do.”

Overall, Turner is content with his team’s 7-3 record, and does not view the Spartans’ outing at the Littlewood Tournament pessimistically, saying, “I am pleased with how this team has performed overall. They are incredibly resilient. We look at every loss as a learning experience, and I don’t think we will duplicate our results from last weekend.”

HAWAI’I RAINBOW WAHINE

The Rainbow Wahine (7-4) are coming off of a 4-2 showing at the Easton Desert Classic, scoring ten-or-more runs in three of those wins. Alyssa Villalpando performance was a major reason for the team’s offensive success. This season, she has a 1.043 slugging percentage and batting .522 with 11 RBI. The majority of the Rainbow Wahine’s pitching duties are held by Heather Morales (4-2). In 39.2 innings of work, she has a 3.88 ERA with two shutouts, fanning 23 batters and holding opponents to a .266 batting average. Bob Coolen is in his 22nd season as Hawai’i’s head coach. 

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

The Tar Heels (2-5) went 1-2 at the Jacksonville

Tournament last weekend, with its lone win against No. 23/25 Louisville. North Carolina employed swift base running, beating two fielder’s choice throws to home in the seventh inning for the final 4-2 win over the Cardinals. This season, Amber Parrish is the Tar Heels’ leading hitter, batting .300 with three RBI and two homers. Lori Spingola has seen the most work of North Carolina’s pitching staff, posting a 2-3 record, while striking out 25 batters in 27.2 innings. Donna J. Papa is in her 29th season at the helm of North Carolina’s program.

SAINT MARY’S GAELS

The Gaels (4-6) went 2-3 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, including their first win over California in program history, beating the No. 23 Golden Bears by a 4-1 margin. Saint Mary’s is led in the circle by reigning West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week, Sara Lira. She tossed 18.2 innings, allowing 13 hits, four earned runs and struck out seven in two wins over South Dakota and California. She also performed splendidly at the plate, going 7-for-15 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI. In her 10th season is head coach Jessica Hanaseth-Rodgers.

SPARTANS ON THE OFFENSE

In their opening 10 games of the season, the 2014 Spartans scored runs at historic levels. The team has plated the most runners of any San José State club 10 games into the season in the program’s 28-year history, scoring 72 runs. The Spartans have scored 10-or-more runs in four games, including 11 runs in three consecutive games. It was the first time a San José State club accomplished that feat since 1994.

HARD HITTING BY HUFSTETLER

Jessie Hufstetler’s sensational performance at the plate to open the season gains even more credence when compared to previous Spartan seasons. Averaging .548, she has the highest batting average of any San José State softball player in the opening 10 games of the season since 2006.

LANG LOOKING LOVELY

In the first 10 games of 2014, junior Allison Lang has been the Spartans’ top performer in the circle. Her 1.25 ERA in 28.0 innings is the best ERA of any Spartan pitcher through 10 games since Jennifer Ames’ 0.64ERA in 11 innings pitched to open the 2009 season. The Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for February 3-9, Lang was 5-1 in that time, with one save, fanning 19 batters.

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 February 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). Sophomore 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 (.993) and stolen bases against percentage (.533). She also has the third-most sacrifice flies (7) and has driven in the third-most RBI (98).