Spartans Host New Mexico This Weekend

April 8, 2014

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The Last Meeting
San Jose State9
New Mexico0
February 8, 2013
Tempe, Ariz.
THIS WEEK

Opponent: New Mexico
Venue: SJSU Field, San Jose, Calif.

Fri., April 11 – 3:00 p.m.
Sat., April 12 – 1:00 p.m.
Sun., April 13 – 12:00 p.m.

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. – The San José State University softball team (21-14, 4-2 MW) hosts Mountain West-foes New Mexico after the Spartans’ second-straight conference series win of the season. The series opens on Friday, April 11, at 3:00 p.m. The teams rematch on Saturday, April 12, at 1:00 p.m. and conclude the series on Sunday, April 13 for a noon matchup.   

LAST TIME OUT      

The Spartans won their second Mountain West series in as many tries, posting a 2-1 record at Utah State. San José State opened the weekend with a 9-0, six-inning win on Friday and a 12-4 victory in five innings. Jessica Garcia hit homers in each win, going 4-for-6 with four runs scored and six RBI. But the series finale saw the San José State scatter 17 hits to lose, 16-8, in five innings to the Aggies.

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Live stats and video for all games this weekend will be available on http://SJSUSpartans.com.

COACH’S CORNER

The Spartans left the state of Utah with their second Mountain West series win of the year in as many tries. They run-ruled Utah State in the weekend’s opening two matchups and posted double-digit hits in all three games.  

“We did a lot of great things this weekend,” head coach Peter Turner said. “I was pleased for the most part with how the team moved the ball. Any time you get double-digit hits, people are contributing up and down the lineup. Earlier in the weekend, our defense played well and got us out of a couple tight jams.

“(Sharon-Renae) Estrada has shored up third base, (Alyssa) Martinez is playing much better at shortstop, and Devin (Caldwell) has always done a good job for us defensively. I think they’re more relaxed and not playing over their shoulder, which they shouldn’t.”

 Despite the growth in San José State’s defensive play, Turner noted an area of concern for his ball club. “A couple of our starting pitchers are struggling right now,” Turner said. “They all have their moments and that’s just pitching, but we can throw better. We get behind in the count too often and we need to make our opponents earn everything, including walks.”

Turner did single out one pitcher who has experienced recent success: Madison Fish. In two of her last three relief appearances, she posted a 1.46 ERA in 12.2 innings. “She has been on fire the past three weeks,” said Turner. “She had a good weekend against UNLV, and then came in relief on Saturday and did a nice job for us. She is hitting her pace right now, and when we need it.”

Now prepping to face its third Mountain West opponent, Turner explained that despite their success, the Spartans have areas to improve upon. “I don’t mind the team making mistakes once, as long as they don’t duplicate those mistakes,” he said. “We’re cleaning it up defensively but we still have room to grow. When we get in close games, we don’t want that to cost us and that’s where we have to stay focused.

“This team is getting better each day and that’s something I’m proud of. We’ll continue to get better and hopefully when we get to the final weeks of league, we’re on top of the heap.”

NEW MEXICO LOBOS

The Lobos (11-25, 2-7 MW) visit San Jose after posting a 1-2 record at home against Fresno State last weekend. After winning the series opener, 11-9, in eight innings, New Mexico was shutout in two-straight games by a 29-0 margin. Despite the shellacking, the team has four players batting over-.400. Sophomore Naomi Tellez  is a leader at the plate in conference play, batting .423 (11-for-26) and slugging .731. She is also driving in 1.11 runner per game. Pitching has been a spot of concern for the Lobos in league, however, posting a 10.44 ERA and allowing 9.89 runs per game. Erica Beach is in her fourth season at the helm of the New Mexico softball program.

RUN RULE RULES

San José State opened its series against Utah State by accomplishing something no Spartan team has done in nearly a decade: winning consecutive games in less than seven innings. In the weekend opener, San José State beat the Aggies, 9-0, in six innings, and won a 12-4, five-inning match in the second game. The last team to win consecutive games by the run rule was the 2005 Spartans, who shut out Delaware and Norfolk State, back-to-back.

CAREER YEARS FOR SPARTANS’ TOP HITTERS

Just two-thirds into the season, the Spartans’ top-3 hitters have already set or are approaching new career marks. Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has new career-bests in runs scored (28), hits (48), doubles (10), triples (2) and walks (28). She is just one RBI away from tying her season-high 27. Senior Jessica Garcia’s seven home runs and 43 RBI are new single-season highs, while her 26 runs scored and 39 hits this season are one away from tying her career-best. Junior Sharon-Renae Estrada’s production at the plate has exploded from her previous two seasons. She has career-highs in games played and started (32 and 31), at bats (91), runs scored (7), hits (30), doubles (5), home runs (3), RBI (30) and walks (9).

GARCIA PLAYING AT HISTORICAL LEVELS

Jessica Garcia’s senior season is turning out to be one for the record books. Her 43 RBI this season places her third in the single-season list. Brittany McConnell drove in 51 runners in 2008 and 47 in 2010 for San José State’s top-2 spots in the category. Garcia has 1.19 RBI per game, the third-highest number in the Mountain West and the 17th-most nationally. She has driven in multiple runners in 11 contests, including her seven RBI on Feb. 20 against Hawai’i, the most since 2010. A slew of Garcia’s RBI this season have come from home runs, of which she has hit seven. McConnell holds the program’s single season home run record; in 2008, she blasted 13.

HUFSTETLER HITTING THE MARK

Jessie Hufstetler has been seeing her pitches at an extraordinary level this season, posting a Conference-best .466 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 .591 on base percentage is the fourth-best nationally and tops in the Mountain West. The sophomore is also drawing 0.78 walks per game, the 21st- and third-most in the country and conference, respectively.

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 .310 batting average ranks second in the Mountain West and 42nd nationally. Their 5.89 runs scored per game is the third-most in the conference and ranked 33rd  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 0.42 double plays per game, the Spartans rank 35th in the nation and fourth in the conference in double plays turned.

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.

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 13-1 when leading after five innings. Additionally, 45 percent (96-of-212) 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.