Softball Looks To Maintain Winning Ways At Utah State

April 1, 2014

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THIS WEEK

Opponent: Mountain West Games - Utah State
Venue: LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Fri., April 4 - 3:00 p.m.
Sat., April 5 - 1:00 p.m.
Sun., April 6 - 1:00 p.m.

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. - The San José State University softball team (19-14, 2-1 MW) travels to Utah State this weekend for its first road conference series of the year. The series features a 3:00 p.m. (MDT) game on Friday, April 4, and 1:00 p.m. (MDT) matchups on Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6.

LAST TIME OUT      

Last weekend proved historic for the Spartans, who won their first Mountain West series and rewrote the program record book. The team dropped the series-opening game in dramatic fashion, falling in 12 innings. After the Rebels tied the game, 4-4, in the seventh inning, UNLV made the most of four hits in the 12th inning to earn the 6-4 win. The series' second game on Saturday was postponed in the fourth inning, tied 1-1, until Sunday due to inclement weather. But San José State returned with renewed vigor and scored a program- and Mountain West-record 13 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, leading to a 14-4, five inning victory. The weekend finale saw the Spartans capitalize on UNLV errors and utilize strong relief pitching by Madison Fish to get the series-clinching 4-2 victory.

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK'S GAMES

Live stats for all games this weekend will be available through http://UtahStateAggies.com. All links will be posted on http://SJSUSpartans.com.

COACH'S CORNER

The Spartans opened Mountain West play against UNLV in dramatic fashion, losing in 12 frames in the season opener, then scoring a record-breaking 13 runs in the fourth inning to beat the Rebels, 14-4. San José State was then able to capitalize on UNLV errors and have solid defensive play in the series finale to win, 4-2.

Head coach Peter Turner discussed the team's historic fourth inning in the series' second game. "We moved the ball well, got fortunate by placing the ball where they weren't and everything came together," he said. "After that loss on Friday, I didn't know how the kids were going to bounce back but that fourth inning was great.

"That was the first time we won in five innings so that pleased me."

Despite the series win, there are areas on which the team will focus on this week. "We have to keep getting better at limiting physical errors," Turner said. "This is a young team that needs to mature now. It's no longer an excuse that we can use because they're all getting significant playing time."

With the start of conference play, Turner looks ahead with optimism. "I think they're really good hitters and we have decent pitching but our defense continues to be suspect," he said. "However,  it got us out of a lot of situations on Sunday and overall, I thought we played very well defensively.

"If we can win every weekend and win the series, things will take care of themselves. That was our motto last year. We're in good position. We have a tough one next weekend we'll have to work hard when we're in Utah.

UTAH STATE AGGIES

The Aggies (13-17, 3-3 MW) are coming off of a sweep at the hands of Fresno State, opening the series with 6-0 and 8-0 shutouts. Despite the disappointing weekend, the Aggies started Mountain West play on a high, taking all three games against Colorado State. The team is being helped by quality work in the circle from Noelle Johnson (12-10), posting a 2.57 ERA with 149 strikeouts in 133.1 innings. Utah State's underclassmen have led at the plate. Freshman Victoria Saucedo is leading Utah State at the plate, batting .344 with a .521 slugging percentage, while sophomore Paxton Provost has driven in a team-best 16 runners with15 runs scored. Steve Johnson is in his first season as Utah State's head coach.

SPARTANS MAKE HISTORY IN OPENING CONFERENCE WEEKEND

In the second game against UNLV, the Spartans further displayed their hitting prowess this season and made history. The game's fourth inning saw 13 runs scored, the most scored by any San José State team. The 13 runs scored also tied the Mountain West record for runs scored in an inning, set by Fresno State on March 22. Previously, the most runs scored by the Spartans in an inning was 10 in a 14-2 win, also against UNLV, on March 12, 1989.

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 .301 batting average ranks second in the Mountain West and 58th nationally. Their 5.55 runs scored per game is the third-most in the conference and ranked 48th in the country.

DOUBLE TROUBLE FOR OPPONENTS LEADS TO SPARTAN SUCCESS

In the Spartans' Mountain West-opening series against UNLV, San José State had one of its best defensive weekends of the season. The team turned five double plays: a season-best three in the 12-inning, 6-4 loss to the Rebels and two in the series finale. The three double plays in the opening game the most since April 30, 2011, against Louisiana Tech, and five double plays turned in a week was the most for the Spartans since 2010 (seven from Feb. 14-20). With 0.45 double plays per game, the Spartans rank 22nd in the nation, and second in the conference, in double plays turned.

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 is 12-1 when leading after five innings. Additionally, 48 percent (88-of-183) of the Spartans' runs scored this year have come in the fifth through 12th 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 65th-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 1.12 RBI per game, the third-highest number in the Mountain West and the 34th-most nationally. Garcia has driven in multiple runners in nine 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 .468 batting average, the 11th-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 .603 on base percentage is the third-best nationally and tops in the Mountain West. The sophomore is also drawing 0.82 walks per game, the 17th- and third-most in the country and conference, respectively.

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 (.374), on-base percentage (.477) and second-best slugging percentage (.522), while junior Michelle Cox is second in both career batting average (.368) and on base percentage (.438). A swift base runner, she also has the fifth-most stolen bases (48) 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 (.990) and stolen bases against percentage (.542). She also has the most sacrifice flies in a San José State career (10), has collected second-most RBI (122), has belted the fifth-most home runs (12), and drawn the fifth-most walks (66).