Softball Looks To Lengthen Win Streak Versus Aztecs

April 29, 2014

COMPLETE RELEASE 

THIS WEEK
Opponents: Mountain West Games – San Diego State
Venue: SJSU Field, San Jose, Calif.

Friday, May 2 – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 3 – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 4 – 12:00 p.m.

 (All times local to site)

The Last Meeting
San Jose State2
San Diego State5
May 18, 2013
Tempe, Ariz.

San Jose, Calif. – The San José State University softball team (27-21, 10-8 MW) hosts San Diego State for its final home Mountain West series this weekend. The three-game set opens on Friday, May 2, at 3:00 p.m. The teams rematch at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, and the series finale is on Sunday, May 4, at noon.

LAST TIME OUT      

The Spartans took two out of three from the Wolf Pack at Nevada last weekend. After losing 10-1 in five innings on Friday, San José State rebounded with a 7-6 win on Saturday, capitalizing on Nevada errors and scoring the game-winning run in the seventh. In the series finale, Jessie Hufstetler hit a two-run homer in the eighth to help the Spartans win the game, 4-2.

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 won its series at Nevada, taking two out of three from the Wolf Pack, after losing two-straight Mountain West series, 2-1. San José State lost the series opener, 10-1, in five innings, then won back-to-back contests, 7-6 and 4-2 in eight innings.

In the series finale, the Spartans took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning but Nevada knotted the score in the bottom of the seventh. Jessie Hufstetler’s two-run homer in the eighth handed San José State a 4-2 victory to win the series. “We have lost a lot of heartbreakers this year and it looked like another one was going to not go our way,” head coach Peter Turner said. “But the team battled back. This series win was really huge. We’ve been on a bit of a tailspin, losing some tough games in the last inning, and I couldn’t be prouder of our effort this week, particularly on Sunday.”

Turner was especially pleased with the performance at Nevada of his freshman pitcher, Katelyn Linford. “I thought Linford did a great job this weekend,” he said. “On Sunday, she had command all game and was ahead in the count. I was really proud of her effort and I hope this pushes her to the top. I’ve always believed that she has a tremendous amount of talent.”

The series against the Wolf Pack did highlight areas the Spartans will look to improve upon before facing San Diego State. “In the second game, four runs were scored because of walks and one run was because of an error,” Turner noted. “We have to continue to work on our defensive play and lessen the amount of runners we let on base.”

With his team just two games behind Mountain West Conference-leader Fresno State, Turner is hopeful his team can ride the momentum they garnered in Reno and finish the season strong. “We’ve got a big series next weekend because we’re still in the hunt,” Turner said. “With six games to go, we can do a lot of great things.”

SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS

The Aztecs (34-15, 11-7 MW), in a three-way tie for second in the Mountain West standings, visit San Jose following a series win over Colorado State. San Diego State has been strong at the plate this season, with six players batting over-.300, led by Sydnee Cable’s .378 batting average. The pitching staff has also helped the team to a conference-best 34 wins, 250 strikeouts and 2.48 ERA. Danielle O’Toole has seen the most action in the circle, posting a 25-7 record and a 1.68 ERA in 200.1 innings of work. Kathy Van Wyk is in her 18th season at the helm of the Aztecs’ softball program.

LONG-AWAITED LONG BALLS COME IN RENO

In San José State’s series at Nevada, a Spartan smashed her first-career home run in each game of the series. In the opening game, Devin Caldwell knocked her first home run as a Spartan, and just the second of her collegiate career. Casey Watt’s three-run homer in the second game was her inaugural long ball, while Alyssa Martinez’s first-collegiate home run opened scoring for San José State in the series finale.

SUPREME SCORING

The Spartans have evolved into one of the nation’s premiere teams at the plate. The team has a Mountain West-best 271 runs scored, with its 5.67 per game ranking 42nd in the nation.

San José State’s 1,597 plate appearances, the second-most in the conference, are due in part to their four run-rule wins over conference opponents. This is also the second-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

Three of the Spartans’ four top hitters have already set or are approaching new career marks. Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has new career-bests in runs scored (33), hits (63), doubles (12), triples (2), walks (30) and RBI (38). Senior Jessica Garcia’s nine home runs, 32 runs scored, 49 hits, 29 walks and 49 RBI are new single-season highs. Sophomore Alyssa Martinez’s production at the plate has exploded from her freshman year. She has career-highs in games played and started (45 and 42), at bats (119), runs scored (28), hits (36), doubles (5), home runs (1), RBI (21) and walks (25).

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 .441 batting average, the 20th-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 .552 on base percentage is the 10th-best nationally and second in the Mountain West.

Her stellar season is shining through in the program record books. She has 30 walks for the second-most in a season, 12 doubles this season for the eight spot and the sixth-most RBI in a single season (38).

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 2.39 runs in the first three innings in Mountain West games versus 1.90 runs in non-conference play.