Softball Hosts Pacific, Opens Conference Play At Home This Week

March 25, 2014

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THIS WEEK
Opponents: Pacific, Mountain West Games: UNLV
Venue: SJSU Field

Wed., March 26 – 1:00 p.m. – vs. Pacific
Fri., March 28 – 3:00 p.m. – vs. UNLV
Sat., March 29 – 1:00 p.m. – vs. UNLV
Sun., March 30 – 12:00 p.m. – vs. UNLV

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. – The San José State University softball team opens Mountain West play this weekend after hosting a midweek game. The Spartans face Pacific at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26. San José State then hosts UNLV on Friday at 3:00 p.m., Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday at 12:00 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT      

The Spartans are coming off of a split at the University of San Diego Tournament. The team left the first inning of its tournament-opening game, against UC Santa Barbara, with a 2-0 lead, but was unable to counteract timely Gaucho hits and fell, 6-5. A come-from-behind eight-inning win and a strong pitching performance by Madison Fish against Long Beach State resulted in a 6-4 win. In the second day, solid pitching helped the Spartans to a 6-3 win over UC Santa Barbara. But the team couldn’t counteract a four-run seventh by Long Beach State, falling, 9-6, to the 49ers.

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Live stats for all games this weekend will be available on SJSUSpartans.com.

COACH’S CORNER

San José State split its weekend at the University of San Diego Tournament, winning one game each against Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.

“These were two tough teams,” head coach Peter Turner said. “I was happy with certain facets of our game this weekend, including our hitting and pitching.”

Turner was particularly pleased with the performance of Jessie Hufstetler. The sophomore batted .667 (7-for-12), hitting two doubles and a triple for a .917 slugging percentage. Hufstetler’s triple against Long Beach State drove in three runners.

The Spartans’ pitching staff also continued to perform solidly. Madison Fish went 2-0, throwing 10.1 innings, fanning nine batters and holding the 49ers and Gauchos to a .200 batting average. The junior pitched 3.1 no-hit innings in the first game against Long Beach State, earning the win with five strikeouts. Said Turner, “I was pleased with how she threw. In that first Long Beach State game, she allowed us to stick around and have a big inning.”

San José State opens Mountain West play this weekend, and discussed his team’s preparation for the team’s inaugural season in the conference. “We did the best we could to test our team prior to conference,” Turner said. “I’m confident that this will pay dividends as we enter this stage of the season.”

With UNLV coming off of a 3-0 conference-opening weekend, Turner noted that competing against the Rebels will be no easy task. Said Turner, “This conference is extremely talented so I think anything can happen on any given weekend.

PACIFIC TIGERS

The Tigers (11-18) are coming off of a 2-3 showing at the Cal State Northridge Tournament, including a nine-inning, 3-2 loss to CSU Bakersfield. Batting .271, Pacific is led at the plate by Taylor Petty and Cassidy Gustafson. Petty’s .349 batting average and .486 on base percentage leads the Tigers. Gustafson has driven in a team-high 20 runners, including five versus Northridge off of two homers. Reigning WCC Pitcher of the Week Tori Shepard (4-7) posted a 0.62 ERA, improving her to a 3.40 ERA this season.  In his 22nd season as Pacific’s head coach is Brian Kolze.

UNLV REBELS

The Rebels (18-18, 3-0 MW) opened Mountain West play on a high note, sweeping its three-game series at home against Nevada. One of the conference’s most powerful hitting teams, UNLV has bombed a Mountain West-high 26 home runs. Pauline Monreal is a major reason for the Rebels’ amount of long balls, slugging .719 and collecting a conference-best 36 RBI on the season. In the circle, Amanda Oliveto’s (6-10) 104.0 innings have yielded 82 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA. Lisa Dodd is in her second season as UNLV’s head coach.

HOT BATS HEAT UP NATIONAL, CONFERENCE RANKINGS

The Spartans’ success at the plate this season shines through in both the national and Mountain West rankings. The team’s .299 batting average ranks second in the Mountain West and 65th nationally. Their 5.37 runs scored per game is the third-most in the conference and ranked 55th in the country.

IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER

While the Spartans may find themselves trailing early in a game, don’t count the team out until the final pitch. San José State has won all 11 of its games when leading after five innings. Additionally, 58 percent (87-of-161) of the Spartans’ runs scored this year have come in the fifth through eighth innings (three runs scored in the eighth inning against Cal Poly).

SPARTANS THIRD-HIGHEST RPI IN MOUNTAIN WEST

According to the first NCAA Women’s Softball RPI ranking, the Spartans have the 64th-highest RPI, the third-best ranking in the Mountain West. A team’s RPI is determined by calculating 25 percent of the team’s winning percentage, 50 percent of its opponents’ winning percentage and 25 percent of its opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage (base RPI), with bonus or penalty points resulting in the final total (adjusted RPI). Each win against an opponent with a base RPI in the top-25 nationally adds .0026 point to the base RPI, while each win over a team with a base RPI higher than No. 26 adds .0013 point. When losing to a team with a base RPI between No. 265 and No. 289, .0026 is subtracted from the base RPI. Each loss to a team with a base RPI between No. 240 and 264 subtracts .0013 from the base RPI.

GARCIA’S DRIVING ‘EM IN

This season, it’s been a safe bet that senior Jessica Garcia will drive in a runner. She has 1.13 RBI per game, the third-highest number in the Mountain West and the 33rd-most nationally. Garcia has driven in multiple runners in eight contests, including her seven RBI on Feb. 20 against Hawai’i, the most since 2010.

HUFSTETLER HITTING THE MARK

Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has been seeing her pitches at an extraordinary level this season, posting a Conference-best .500 batting average, the sixth highest mark among all Division I softball players. When she doesn’t get a hit, she’s still managed a way to land on a bag; her .637 on base percentage is the second-best nationally and tops in the Mountain West. The sophomore is also drawing 0.87 walks per game, the 14th- and third-most in the country and conference, respectively.

LINFORD SWEET IN THE CIRCLE

In the Spartans’ first home weekend of 2014, Katelyn Linford pitched top-rate ball against New Mexico State, Santa Clara and Princeton. With two starts and two relief appearances, the freshman went 3-0 with a save in 17.0 innings, posting a 0.82 ERA and fanning 13 batters. She went the distance against New Mexico State and the second Princeton game, allowing two earned runs and scattering six combined hits. Her weekend was the top pitching performance by a member of the Spartans' staff this season.

GARCIA NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Jessica Garcia earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors for her performance at the Bank of Hawai’i Invitational February 20-23. At the Bank of Hawai'i Invitational, Garcia belted three home runs, including two grand slams, the first time a Spartan hit a pair of grand slams since 2008. Garcia's three home runs accounted for all of the Spartans' homers at the tournament. She batted .353 (6-for-17), collecting 13 RBI and scoring four runs and posting a .941 slugging percentage, resulting in a Bank of Hawai'i Invitational All-Tournament Team honor.

Against Hawai'i, she hit a pair of home runs, including her first-career grand slam. Her second grand slam of the weekend, against North Carolina in the Bank of Hawai'i Invitational, was hit in the bottom of the sixth inning and gave the Spartans a 5-3 lead (the Spartans won the game, 5-4). 

SPARTANS “CATCHING” HOT BATS

At the Bank of Hawai’i Invitational, starting catcher Jessica Garcia hit two grand slams, against Hawai’i and North Carolina. It was the first time a Spartan hit multiple grand slams in a season since Brittany McConnell, also a starting catcher, hit a pair of grand slams in 2008 (in a 14-8 win over New Mexico State on April 26, 2008, and an 8-2 victory against Utah State on May 7, 2008).

In the Hawai’i game, when she hit her first-career grand slam, Garcia drove in seven runners. It was the most single-game RBI for a Spartan since McConnell’s seven against Northern Colorado on February 27, 2010. 

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 was 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 Spartans 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 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.

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.

SPARTAN CAREERS IN THE RECORD BOOKS

Three current Spartans have already carved their names into the program’s record books. Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has the school’s top batting average (.381), on-base percentage (.537) and on base percentage (.485), while junior Michelle Cox is second in both career batting average (.366) and on base percentage (.436). A swift base runner, she also has the 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 (.991) and stolen bases against percentage (.538). She also has the most sacrifice flies in a San José State career (10), has collected second-most RBI (119), has belted the fifth-most home runs (12), and drawn the seventh-most walks (64).