Spartans Looking For Fourth-Straight MW Series Win In Boise

April 15, 2014

COMPLETE SAN JOSE STATE RELEASE 

THIS WEEK
Opponent: Mountain West Games - Boise State
Venue: Dona Larsen Park, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

Thurs., April 17 – 3:00 p.m.
Fri., April 18 – 3:00 p.m.
Sat., April 19 – 12:00 p.m.

(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. – The San José State University softball team (23-16, 6-3 MW) travels to Boise State for an Easter weekend conference series with the Broncos. The series opens on Thursday, April 17, with a 3:00 p .m. game. Another 3:00 p.m. matchup follows on Friday, April 18. The series concludes on Saturday, April 19, at 12:00 p.m.   

LAST TIME OUT      

The Spartans continued to win in Mountain West play, earning their third conference series win, 32-1, against New Mexico. The Spartans lost to the Lobos, 9-4, in 10 innings on Friday after a five-run 10th-inning rally by New Mexico. A nine-run first inning powered San José State to a 10-1, five-inning win on Saturday. The Spartans earned the series win with timely hitting and strong pitching by Allison Lang in a 5-0 shutout of New Mexico on Sunday.

COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK’S GAMES

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

COACH’S CORNER

San José State continued to have success in league this weekend, winning two straight to take the Mountain West series from New Mexico, 2-1. The Spartans opened the weekend with a 9-4, 10-inning loss to the Lobos. “On Friday,” head coach Peter Turner said, “we played poorly in all facets of the game. The team was not ready to play and didn’t have the energy they needed to win.”

But Turner’s team rebounded with gusto on Saturday, besting the Lobos, 10-1, in five innings. “After our game on Friday,” he said, “we met with our sports psychologist and we had a good pregame meeting. We asked what type of team we wanted to be, whether it was a championship-contending team or not. In response, the team came back and played well. Madison Fish just pitched and let the defense do the work behind her. Additionally, they piled on enough runs in the first inning to create distance.”

Turner was also excited about Sunday’s 5-0 series-clinching shutout. “On Sunday, we got great pitching from Allison Lang. I think it was one of her best efforts. Also, our defense was flawless and, as per usual, we hit incredibly well.”

The team is now tied for second in the conference standings, and Turner noted what his team took away from the weekend. “This weekend tells us that we can beat anyone and we can lose to anyone. Hopefully, our poor performance on Friday was a wakeup call. If they didn’t learn a lesson from it, then it’s meaningless.

“Every loss we’ve had has been a giveaway loss and that’s been disappointing. We could very well be undefeated in league at this point and we’re not because of untimely mental and physical mistakes.”

With the 10-1, five-inning win, the Spartans have now run-ruled opponents in three of its last six games. Turner touched on the feat: “I think it’s a combination of a few things, but our hitting is one of the best in the league. It’s easy to play when you have a big lead and then you relax.”

Turner is hopeful his team will be relaxed this weekend in Boise, a “tough place to play,” Turner said. “They’re well-coached and disciplined. We’ll have to play well and like we did on Saturday and Sunday. Then after Boise, we host Fresno State on Tuesday and Wednesday, who is the top team in the conference.

“The next 10 days are going to be instrumental and we better be ready to perform.”

BOISE STATE BRONCOS

The Broncos (21-18, 6-6 MW) are coming off of their first series sweep since 2012, over Nevada last weekend. One of the best base running teams in the nation, the Broncos has a conference-best 78 stolen bases this season, a school record, and the 11th-most in the nation. Reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Tara Glover leads the way with 26 stolen bases, nine of which came in conference play. She is also the team’s top hitter in league, batting .415 and slugging .537 with 10 RBI. In the circle for Boise State, Rebecca Patton (5-5) has a team-best 3.88 ERA against Mountain West opponents, fanning 32 batters in 65.0 innings. Erin Thorpe is in her seventh season at the helm of the Broncos’ softball program.

THESE BATS ARE ON FIRE

Halfway into the Mountain West season, the Spartans are one of the best hitting teams in the nation. The team is batting .310, tied for first in the conference and 38th in the nation. San José State has scored a Mountain West-best 230 runs, getting 5.92 per game for 33rd nationally.

San José State’s Mountain West-best 1,315 plate appearances are due in part to their four run-rule wins over conference opponents. This is also the most among all Mountain West teams.

RUN RULE RULES

San José State’s hot bats have led to shortened games against its opponents: four of its Mountain West wins have ended due to the eight-run, five inning rule, the most in the conference. After run-ruling UNLV once and Utah State twice, the Spartans run-ruled New Mexico in the second game of their series last weekend, winning 10-1 in five innings.

At Utah State, the team won consecutive games in less than seven innings for the first time in nine seasons. 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.

EARLY BIRD GETS THE WIN

Shortened games are reflected in the amount of Spartan runs scored in the team’s opening three innings since the start of conference play. The team has scored an average of 4.22 runs in the first three innings in Mountain West games versus 3.16 runs in non-conference play.

CAREER YEARS FOR SPARTANS’ TOP HITTERS

The Spartans’ top-3 hitters have already set or are approaching new career marks. Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has new career-bests in runs scored (29), hits (52), doubles (10), triples (2), walks (29) and RBI (27). Senior Jessica Garcia’s seven home runs, 28 runs scored, 42 hits and 45 RBI are new single-season highs. 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 (35 and 34), at bats (98), runs scored (7), hits (32), doubles (6), home runs (3), RBI (30) and walks (12).

GARCIA PLAYING AT HISTORICAL LEVELS

Jessica Garcia’s senior season is turning out to be one for the record books. Her 45 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 1.24 RBI per game, the top spot in the Mountain West and the 29th-most nationally. She has driven in multiple runners in 12 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

This season, Jessie Hufstetler has broken through as one of the nation’s top hitters. She is posting a Conference-best .452 batting average, the 14th-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 .573 on base percentage is the fifth-best nationally and tops in the Mountain West. The sophomore is also drawing 0.74 walks per game, the 31st- and fourth-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 38th  nationally. Their 5.92 runs scored per game is the third-most in the conference and ranked 33rd  in the country. Defensively, San José State’s 0.44 double plays per game is the 24th highest number nationally and second in the Mountain West.

SPARTANS ON THE DEFENSIVE

The Spartans’ defense has improved significantly as the season has progressed. Since the start of league play, the team has committed nearly one error fewer per game (2.06 errors per non-conference game versus 1.22 errors per conference games) and increased the amount of double plays turned (.56 double plays turned per non-conference game versus .77 double plays turned per conference game). San José State has turned two at least once in two of three Mountain West series: two against New Mexico and five versus UNLV.

Against the Rebels, the team turned a season-best three double plays in a 12-inning, 6-4 loss to 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).

San José State’s 0.44 double plays per game is the 24th highest number nationally and second in the Mountain West.