April 22, 2014
Opponents: Mountain West Games - Fresno State, Nevada
Venues: SJSU Field, San Jose, Calif.; Hixson Park, Reno, Nev.
vs. Fresno State
Tuesday, April 22 - 12:00 p.m. (DH)
Wednesday, April 23 - 12:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25 - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 - 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 - 1:00 p.m.
(All times local to site)
San Jose, Calif. - The San José State University softball team (24-18, 7-5 MW) play two conference series this week: hosting Fresno State for a midweek Mountain West matchup, then travel to Reno, Nev., to face the Wolf Pack this weekend. The Bulldogs' series opens with a noon doubleheader on Tuesday, April 22 and concludes with a 12:00 p.m. game on Wednesday, April 23. The Spartans then travel to Reno to face Nevada for its second Mountain West series of the week. The teams open play with a 4:00 p.m. game on Friday, April 25. They rematch on Saturday, April 26 at 1:00 p.m. and close the series on Sunday, April 27, with another 1:00 p.m. game.
LAST TIME OUT
The Spartans lost their first conference series since 2012 after going 1-2at Boise State. They lost the opening and closing games by 7-6 scores. In the game one, the team posted double-digit hits but issued seven walks and allowed two Bronco home runs. The Spartans got 10-or-more hits again in the second game, winning 11-5 after a six-run sixth. In the series finale, San José State had a 6-4 lead, thanks to a three-run Jessie Hufstetler homer, but allowed a Boise State long ball and walk-off double for the final 7-6 losing score.
COVERAGE FOR THIS WEEK'S GAMES
Live stats and video for all games this weekend will be available on http://SJSUSpartans.com.
After the Spartans' first conference series loss since 2012, which included two 7-6 losses and an 11-5 win, head coach Peter Turner commented on his team's performance at Boise State.
"On occasion, we were able to capitalize on their mistakes," he said. "That's how we were able to win on Friday. We were able to create distance and it allowed us to win the game. I thought (Katelyn) Linford threw well this weekend, outside of the walks. Hopefully she grows from that and continues to get back into the form she was in earlier in the year."
Turner noted what his team needs to improve on to climb the Mountain West standings: "We need to do the things we're trained to do," he said. "At this time of year, the team should be on automatic pilot, and the team isn't.
"Additionally, my pitchers need to get ahead in the count. They can't keep throwing up hill. They're good enough that they can fix what's been going on between their ears. "
Turner feels that he can utilize his team's position as one of the strongest hitting teams in the conference to increase the conference win percentage. "If we can keep the scoring margin at four, we can then try to manage the game by outscoring opponents because we have such a good hitting team," Turner stated. "I think if we can do that this coming week, we can win both series and stay in the hunt for the conference championship."
FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs (24-16, 8-4 MW) visit San Jose following its bye week, during which they split a two-game non-conference slate with Santa Clara. The strongest defensive team in the conference, Fresno State has the Mountain West's top fielding percentage (.970) and the most double plays turned per game (.500), the eighth-highest number nationally. The team's defense has been aided by its solid bullpen. Jill Compton's six shutouts rank first in the conference, and she has a team-best 32 strikeouts in league. Trisha Ford is in her second season at the helm of the Bulldogs' softball program.
NEVADA WOLF PACK
The Wolf Pack (21-22, 3-12 MW) are coming off of a sweep at Colorado State and are mired in a nine-game losing streak. However, several of Nevada's players have seen strong seasons at the plate. Erin Jones has the second-best batting average in the conference (.394), while Megan Sweet has a conference-high 45 runs scored and 19 doubles. Sweet's double in the second game versus the Rams, her 19th of 2014, was a new single season Nevada record. In his sixth season as the Wolf Pack's head coach is Matt Meutchel.
THESE BATS ARE ON FIRE
The Spartans have evolved into one of the best hitting teams in the nation this season. The team is batting .310, third in the conference and 34th in the nation. San José State has scored 6.05 runs per game, good enough second in the Mountain West and 25th nationally.
San José State's Mountain West-best 1,420 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.
Additionally, the team has posted double-digit hits in 19 games, the most since 2010, when 20 games featured 10-or-more hits.
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 (30), hits (55), doubles (11), triples (2), walks (29) and RBI (32). Senior Jessica Garcia's nine home runs, 30 runs scored, 46 hits, 24 walks and 49 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 (38 and 37), at bats (105), runs scored (8), hits (35), doubles (6), home runs (4), RBI (32) and walks (13).
GARCIA PLAYING AT HISTORICAL LEVELS
Jessica Garcia's senior season is turning out to be one for the record books. Her 49 RBI this season places her second in the single-season list. Brittany McConnell drove in 51 runners in 2008 for the program's top spot. Garcia has 1.17 RBI per game, the second-most in the Mountain West and the 15th-most nationally. She has driven in multiple runners in 14 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 nine for the program's fifth spot. 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 .433 batting average, the 33rd-highest mark among all Division I softball players. Additionally, she hasn't gone more than two-straight games without a hit and when she doesn't get a hit, she's still managed a way to land on a bag. Her .549 on base percentage is the 11th-best nationally and second in the Mountain West.
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 3.42 runs in the first three innings in Mountain West games versus 3.16 runs in non-conference play.
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 (1.70 errors per non-conference game versus 1.08 errors per conference games) and increased the amount of double plays turned (.330 double plays turned per non-conference game versus .583 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 0.40 double plays per game is the 32nd highest number nationally and fourth in the Mountain West.
SPARTANS THIRD-HIGHEST RPI IN MOUNTAIN WEST
According to the first NCAA Women's Softball RPI ranking, the Spartans have the 72nd -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.