Softball Concludes Regular Season In Fort Collins This Weekend

May 6, 2014

COMPLETE RELEASE

THIS WEEK
Opponents: Mountain West Games – Colorado State
Venue: Ram Field, Fort Collins, Colo.

Thursday, May 8 – 4:00 p.m.
Friday, May 9 – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 10 – 1:00 p.m.
(All times local to site)

San Jose, Calif. – The San José State University softball team (28-22, 11-10 MW) concludes the regular season this weekend with a Mountain West series at Colorado State. The three-game set opens on Thursday, May 8, at 4:00 p.m. (MT). The teams rematch at 4:00 p.m. (MT) on Friday, May 9, and the series finale is on Saturday, May 10, at 1:00 p.m. (MT).

LAST TIME OUT      

The Spartans went 1-2 against San Diego State, falling out of contention for the Mountain West championship. Jessica Garcia set the Spartans’ single-season RBI record with a three-run homer on Friday in an 8-3 loss to San Diego State. The team posted five hits in the opening frame, including Garcia’s long ball, but the Aztec pitcher Danielle O’Toole retired 18 of the 19 batters she faced. On Saturday, the Spartans shut out the Aztecs, 5-0 after Casey Watt hit her second career homer, and second in as many weekends while Allison Lang’s record in conference improved to 4-0. San José State posted 12 hits but fell to San Diego State, 5-3, on Sunday.

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

Last weekend, the Spartans took one-out-of-three from San Diego State, one of five teams currently vying for the conference’s top spot. The team’s effort, both at the plate and defensively, resulted in positive takeaways for head coach Peter Turner. “All weekend, we played really well defensively and we hit the ball well against a good pitching team.”

Turner also discussed his team’s pitching staff, commenting on freshman Katelyn Linford, who has the most starts in conference play with nine. “I thought Linford threw well this weekend,” he said. “On Sunday, we tried something different with her pitching pattern, throwing a lot more changeups, and it worked out pretty well.”

Junior Allison Lang, who improved her record in Mountain West play to 4-0 against San Diego State, was also highlighted. “I have lofty expectations for her and against the Aztecs, she threw like I know she can,” Turner noted. “She got ahead in the count and made the, earn every single at bat.

“When Allison is not on, that’s when we get in trouble. I hope she takes what she did on Saturday and grows into a pitcher that can get ahead next year.”

Turner also has lofty expectations for two of his sophomores: Alyssa Martinez and Casey Watt, who hit her second home run, and the second of her career, in the final Mountain West series at SJSU Field this season. “When we recruited Casey, we knew she was really strong and that she had pop in her bat,” he said. “She came in on Saturday with a lot of confidence. She and (Alyssa) Martinez have both had an awesome year for us for two players who didn’t get a lot of playing time last year. If you don’t think we have big expectations for them for the next two years, you’re wrong.”

With the Spartans’ two losses last weekend, the team was mathematically eliminated from the Mountain West championship. “We have a goal to finish in the top-3 and that was a realistic goal when the season started,” Turner said. “We still have a shot at that. We want to go to Colorado State, win the series and set the tone for next year.

“Regardless of what happens this weekend, we’ll end the season with a winning record in what most would consider a rebound year. We need to build on that and get better and quit making foolish mistakes that cost us mistakes so we can carry that momentum to next year.”

COLORADO STATE RAMS

The Rams (31-15, 12-9 MW) sit two games out of first place in the Mountain West standings despite only taking one out of three games from Fresno State last weekend. The top hitting team in the conference with a .315 batting average, Colorado State is led at the plate by Chelsea O’Connor and Haley Hutton. O’Connor has a conference-high 65 RBI on the season, 30 of which have come in Mountain West play. Hutton is batting .393 in league, a team-best and the fourth-highest mark in the conference. In the circle, Holly Reinke (10-7) has seen the most work for the Rams, credited with the team’s two Mountain West shutouts and fanning 58 batters in 97.2 innings. Jen Fisher is in her fourth season at the helm of the Rams’ softball program.

BATS DON’T COOL AS SEASON ROLLS ON

Against San Diego State, the Spartans posted double-digit hits for the 20th time this season, tying for the most since 2010. The team got 12 in the series finale against the Aztecs, four shy of its season-high, accomplished against UNLV.

GARCIA SETS SINGLE-SEASON RBI RECORD IN SERIES OPENER

In the opening frame of the San Diego State series opener, Jessica Garcia made program history. Her three-run blast gave her 52 RBI on the year, a school record.  The senior is four homers away from setting San José State’s single-season home run record.

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 282 runs scored, with its 5.55 per game ranking 47th in the nation.

San José State’s 1,682 plate appearances, the most in the conference, 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 20 games, tied for the most games with 10-or-more hits since 2010.

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).

PRACTICING PATIENCE PAYS

One of the program’s top hitting teams, the 2014 Spartans’ hits have come from their patience at the plate. The team has 186 walks on the season, the third-most in program history, with two played drawing walks in the top-3 single season spots. Jessica Garcia’s 31 walks are second, while Jessie Hufstetler’s 30 are tied for third-most in a single season.

GARCIA PLAYING AT HISTORICAL LEVELS

Jessica Garcia’s senior season is turning out to be one for the record books. Her 52 RBI is a single-season program record. Garcia has 1.04 RBI per game, the third-most in the Mountain West and the 30th nationally. She has driven in multiple runners in 15 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 10, tied for third in the record books. 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 .425 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 has 20 multi-hit games. When she doesn’t get a hit, she’s still managed a way to land on a bag. Her .534 on base percentage is the 19th-highest nationally and second in the Mountain West.

Her stellar season is shining through in the program record books. She has 13 doubles this season for the six 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 2.38 runs in the first three innings in Mountain West games versus 1.90 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 less errors per game (1.70 errors per non-conference game versus 1.29 errors per conference games) and increased the amount of double plays turned (.330 double plays turned per non-conference game versus .381 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 0.35 double plays per game is the 60th highest number nationally and fourth in the Mountain West.