Los Angeles, Calif. – In it’s first game of the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, San José State softball (36-17) travels south to the campus of UCLA for its fourth NCAA Regional appearance in program history and its first since the 2013 season.
After winning its first Mountain West Conference Championship, the Spartans join 63 other teams who earned births in the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship in search of an NCAA Championship.
SJSU will compete in the Los Angeles Regional, which includes Lehigh, Cal State Fullerton and host UCLA. San Jose State’s first game, in the double elimination bracket, is against Cal State Fullerton at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night.
ESPN will cover every game from all 16 Regionals of the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship for the first-time ever, resulting in up to 112 games on an ESPN network between Thursday, May 18, and Sunday, May 21. The San José State vs. Cal State Fullerton game will be broadcast on ESPN3. The platform on which the remainder of the Spartans games in the Regional will be broadcast will be determined after Friday’s games are complete.
All San José State’s games in the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship will have live stats. The links will be available on the schedule page of the Spartans’ web site at www.sjsuspartans.edu.
All-session tickets for the Los Angeles Regional can be purchased online, through the UCLA web site, or by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-UCLA-WIN. All-session tickets are $33 for adults and $22 for students and youths. Single-day tickets, which are $12 for adults and $8 for students and youths, will be sold on the day of the game only at Easton Stadium on a first-come, first-served basis. All seats are general admission.
SIX EARN POSTSEASON HONORS; TURNER NAMED MW COACH OF THE YEAR
When you win your conference title, as the Spartans did, you get hardware and then you get some more. Seniors Katelyn Linford, Colette Riggs and Chelsea Jenner, sophomore Madison Aurin and freshman Cassidy Clark and Georgia Blair have earned All-Mountain West Conference honors and head coach Peter Turner is the 2017 Mountain West Coach of the Year.
The six players honored are the most for SJSU in one season in the team's four-year Mountain West history.“If you have this type of success as a team, the honors will come,” Turner said. “It’s nice for the athletes to be recognized, but to a player they will tell you the team aspect is the most important. As for my award, it is all based on how the players do. We had success this year and I thank them for this.”
Turner, whose teams have finish in fifth, third and second place in each of its first three seasons in the league, completed the ascent to the top of the standings by winning the 2017 Mountain West championship. The Spartans’ 36 wins in the regular season are the third most in program history. Among Mountain West teams, SJSU finished in first in fielding, second in ERA and on base percentage, third in doubles, double plays, fourth in batting average and fifth in triples.
This is the second time Turner has been honored as a Coach of the Year. In 2013, the last time SJSU won its conference title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championship, Turner was named the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Linford, Aurin and Clark were named first-team honorees, based on the 24-game Mountain West schedule.
Linford posted an 11-5 record with a 2.77 ERA. She tossed nine complete games, including three shutouts, in 16 starts. In 101.0 innings, she struck out 93 and walked only 11. She was a two-time Mountain West pitcher of the Week honoree this season.
Aurin, the team’s first baseman and a second team All-MW honoree last season, batted .354 (29-for-82) and scored 11 runs. She had a team-best six doubles and two home runs while driving in a team-high 15. Her .500 slugging percentage was the second highest on the squad.
Clark, who bats third and plays second base, led the Spartans with a .380 batting average (27-for-71) in MW play. She scored five runs, rapped out five doubles and drove in 14 with a slugging percentage of .493 in 24 games. She earned 14 walks, second on the squad, with a team-leading .477 on base percentage.
Blair, Jenner and Riggs were honored with second team All- Mountain West designation.
Blair, playing shortstop in 18 of the team’s 24 conference games, batted .356 (21-for-59) with a team-high three homers and a team-best .576 slugging percentage. She scored nine runs, while hitting two doubles and a triple. Her .415 on base percentage ranked third on the team.
Jenner, a leftfielder, finished with a .351 average (27-for-77), had six doubles, a homer, seven RBI and slugged .468. She scored 15 times, second on the team, and had a .366 on base percentage.
Watt, the team’s rightfielder, batted .299 (23-for-77) in 24 games. She led the team with two triples and hit three doubles while scoring 12 runs and driving in 12. Her .390 slugging percentage and .393 on base percentage rank fourth and third on the team, respectively.
LINFORD NAMED AN NFCA ALL-REGION PERFORMER
In addition to her Mountain West honor, Linford was named a third-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Pacific Region selection. She is one of 667 student-athletes from 175 programs have received 2017 NFCA Division I All-Region accolades.
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s 10 regions with first, second and third team selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams, and all the honorees now become eligible for selection to the 2017 NFCA Division I All-American squads.
The 2017 NFCA Division I All-America teams will be announced at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 31, via NFCA.org.
SJSU IN THE NCAA REGIONAL
San Jose State is making its fourth appearance in an NCAA Regional and its first since the 2013 season. SJSU had an 0-6 record in postseason play.
In the 1990 NCAA Berkeley Regional, San Jose State (34-28) lost both of its games by 2-1 margins. Their first game against UNLV saw the Spartans get just four hits in a 2-1 loss to UNLV. In the second game, California and San Jose State were scoreless for four-and-a-half innings. But in the seventh, the Golden Bears scored the walk-off seventh-inning run to send the Spartans packing with a 2-1 victory.
The 1992 Spartans (33-24) appeared at its second NCAA Berkeley Regional in three years. San Jose State fell to California, 1-0, on a two-out solo homer in game one. In the second game, the Golden Bears scored three runs in the fifth inning en route to a 6-1 victory over the Spartans
In 2013, SJSU returned to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship at the Tempe Regional. The Spartans dropped both games by a score of 5-2. In the opener, San José State scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but #4 ASU’s Dallas Escobedo held SJSU hitless as the Sun Devils came back for a 5-2 victory. Against San Diego State, the Spartans again jumped out to a lead but a four run fifth ended the SJSU hopes for a victory.
SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON
Cal State Fullerton enters the regional with a 33-21 overall record and won the Big West Conference title with a 16-5 overall record. This is the 42nd meeting between the two teams.
The Titans have a .266 team batting average, .341 on-base percentage and .356 slugging percentage. The team has hit 25 home runs on the season. Senior Delyn Rippy leads the team with a .358 batting average (63 of 176), while senior Lexi Gonzalez leads the team with 10 home runs, nine doubles and 39 runs batted in to go with a .411 on-base percentage. Ariana Williams is tied for second in the Big West with 24 stolen bases in 27 attempts.
In the circle, Kelsey Kessler has a 19-7 record in 34 appearances with 23 games started, 16 complete games and one save. In 177.1 inning pitches, she has struck out 160 batters while walking just 47 and has a 1.46 ERA. Cerissa River has a 5-2 record in 19 appearances with 66 strikeouts and 2.29 ERA. Sydney Golden has a 6-5 record with a save in 23 appearances. She has a 3.20 ERA and 38 strikeouts.
Head coach Kelly Ford is in her fifth at the helm of the Titan program. She heads into the regional with a 173-108-1 head coaching record.
The Titans lead SJSU 31-10 in the all-time series. Cal State Fullerton has won the last six time the two squared off and nine of the last 10 meetings. Friday’s match-up will be the first contested on a neutral site.
The UCLA (42-13) enter postseason play having won 13 of their last 14 contests including four straight Pac-12 Conference series wins.
The Bruins had five All-Pac-12 honorees at the conclusion of the regular season including pitcher Rachel Garcia who won Freshman of the Year. Garcia leads the Bruins with an 18-7 record, a 1.95 earned run average and 161 strikeouts in 154 2/3 innings. She is also a threat at the plate, batting .329 for the year, and enters postseason play with hits in 20 of the last 25 games.
Pacing the UCLA offense is Kaylee Perez and Delaney Spaulding who lead the Pac-12 with 76 and 67 hits respectively. Spaulding has 14 home runs on the year which ranks fourth in the league. There are four Bruins with double-digit home run totals heading into postseason play. Overall the UCLA offense is second in the Pac-12 with 65 bombs and has the league’s third-highest batting average at .321.
Kelly Inouye-Perez is in her 11th season at the helm of the UCLA softball program with an overall record of 480-157-1 (.753). She is aiming to guide UCLA to its third consecutive Women’s College World Series in 2017.
If SJSU plays UCLA, it will be the 12th time the two have met. The Spartans have yet to take a game from the Bruins including an 0-6 record in games played on UCLA’s home field.
Lehigh enters the Los Angeles Regional with a 36-18 overall record and won the Patriot League championship with two wins over Boston University last weekend at its conference championship tournament. The Mountain Hawks also won the Patriot League regular season title with a 16-2 conference mark.
Lehigh has a .289 team batting average, .365 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage. The team has hit 20 home runs on the year, with six by Vicky Lattanzio. Nicole Yozzo leads the team with a .331 batting average with 47 hits and a team-best 26 stolen bases in 29 attempts. Ashley Quidolit Rabago is hitting .323 with 51 hits and four doubles. Carolyn Wright hits .316 with 43 hits, 10 doubles and a team-best 41 runs batted in. Ashley Cole leads the team with 54 hits.
In the circle, Christine Campbell has a 2.02 ERA with a 22-5 record in 33 appearances. She has pitched 19 complete games and recorded a save in 176.2 inning pitches. Campbell has struck out 108 while walking 51, and batters are hitting .228 against her. Emily Sorem has an 11-8 record and a 2.47 ERA in 122 innings pitched. She has made 24 appearances in the circle and pitched 11 complete games. Sorem has struck out 61 batters, while opponents are hitting .263 against her.
Head coach Fran Troyan in is his 22nd year at the help of the Lehigh softball program. He heads into the tournament with a 757-391-6 coaching record and leads the Mountain Hawks to their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance.
If they meet, this will be the first match-up between Lehigh and San José State.
LINFORD NO-HITS NEVADA
Katelyn Linford (Sr., RHP, San Ramon, Calif.) tossed the first no-hitter of her collegiate career in the team’s 8-0 five inning win over Nevada (3/18). She allowed two base runners (a hit batter in the second and a walk in the third for the only blemishes in her line), but did not allow them to advance past first base. She struck out seven in what was her seventh consecutive complete-game victory. The no-no was the 12th in SJSU Softball history and the first in 12 seasons.
The no-hitter was VERY impressive, but what is even more impressive is that Linford one-hit Nevada the night before...it was perhaps the finest back-to-back pitching performance in SJSU softball history.
HOME IS WHERE THE SPARTANS ARE...
Every team holds an advantage when they play on their home field. It’s where they practice and prepare for upcoming opponents. It’s a field they are intimately familiar with and someplace that is familiar...it’s home.
With SJSU Field, the team’s home of 20 years, a memory, the Spartans have called both Stockton, Calif., San Jose, Calif. and Santa Clara, Calif. home for the 2017 season.
San José State has hosted a three-game series at The University of the Pacific in Stockton. The team also played one game at San Jose City College and 10 games at Mission College in Santa Clara.
Despite the having three homes, the Spartans posted an 11-3 record in those games, including a three-game sweep of first place Utah State to take over first place and propel themselves to the 2017 Mountain West Championship.
SPARTANS SCALE THE MOUNTAINS WEST STANDINGS
In each of its four years in the Mountain West, the San José State softball team has improved is position in the final standings, and with two games to play, the Spartans reached the summit with the Mountain West Softball Championship for the program.
In 2014, SJSU’s first season in the conference, it finished in fifth place. Then in 2015 the Spartans came in third and last season finished in second.
LINFORD NAMED A CoSIDA FIRST TEAM ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT 8 PERFORMER
Katelyn Linford (Sr., RHP, San Ramon, Calif.) was named a first-team College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 8 honoree on May 4.
The 2016-17 CoSIDA Academic All-District Softball Teams, selected from eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada, recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.
Linford is a mechanical engineering major who maintains a 3.68 grade-point average. This year she is enjoying the finest season of her Spartans career. She has set single-season personal bests in wins (23), ERA (2.33), complete games (17), saves (4), innings (198.1), strikeouts (190) and opposing batting average (.235).
Her 23 wins and 6.71 strikeouts per seven innings are the third most in a season by a Spartans’ pitcher in the 32-year history of the program. Additional single-season rankings for Linford include fifth in saves (4), fourth in strikeouts (190).
GOOD LUCK GETTING ONE PAST CLARK
When it comes to putting the ball in play only a handful hitters in the NCAA are better than Cassidy Clark (Fr., INF, Fresno, Calif.). Clark is the toughest hitter to strikeout on the team, in the Mountain West and is the eighth toughest hitter to K in the NCAA. In 137 at bats, she has fanned three times. She went 65 straight at-bats to start her career without striking out.
RIGGS CAN GET LOCKED IN
Colette Riggs (Sr., RHP, Yorba Linda, Calif.) is able to block out all the distractions and get the job done.
In seven starts in the middle of the season she posted a 6-0 record with a 1.15 ERA. In 36.2 innings, she struck out 26 batters, including a career-high seven against Boise State (4/14) and allowed six earned runs. Among the 24 hits she surrendered only three were for extra bases and she boasted a more than 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the streak.
SETTING THEM DOWN DOUBLE DIGITS OR MORE AT A TIME
In the first three years at San José State, Katelyn Linford (Sr., RHP, San Ramon, Calif.) had one game of double-digit strikeouts, a 4-1 victory over New Mexico last season in which she set down 12 Lobos hitters. This year, as the clear number one pitcher on the staff, Linford has recorded four, including A 10-strikeout performance against Colorado State (4/9).
Linford leds the Mountain West with 190 strikeouts, the third most in a season for a Spartan. In 198.1 innings, she is averaging 6.71 strikeouts per seven innings pitched.
JENNER HAVING A SENIOR CAMPAIGN TO REMEMBER
Chelsea Jenner (Sr., OF, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada) is having the type of senior season players dream about. A lifetime .293 hitter, she is batting .342 entering the postseason and has set career highs in hits (41), doubles (10), triples (1), homers (2), RBIs (16), walks (6), on base percentage (.367), putouts (59) and assists (4).
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TEAM
Softball is a team game and you can’t really have success without everyone pulling in one direction. The 2017 Spartans have reached the heights they have without a real superstar...everyone is pitching in.
The team’s .970 fielding percentage is the best in school history as are its 45 errors and 17 losses.
The team’s .389 on base percentage ranks third as does its 36 wins and26 double plays. The
.298 batting average is the fourth best in program history, as are its .412 slugging percentage, its 71 doubles, its seven times being caught stealing, its 5.32 strikeouts per 7 innings, and six saves.
The team earned 176 walks and its .829 stolen base percentage are fifth most in program history. Its 219 RBI rank sixth as does the team’s 252 runs. The staff stuck out 267 batters, seventh most in SJSU history.
Brittany Abacherli (Jr., OF, Corona, Calif.) equaled and then set the program’s single-season walks record with two free passes against Utah State (5/5). She passed Markesha Collins and Jessica Garcia who walked 35 time in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Abacherli enters the postseason with 38 free passes this season. In addition, her 69 career walks are eighth on the program’s all-time list.
THE HEAD MAN
Head Coach Peter Turner is in his 11th season leading the Spartans and enters the postseason with a 322-289 (.527) career record. He is the winningest coach in San José State softball history, who earned his 300th career victory with a 3-2 win at UC Davis on March 9.
BLAIR NAMED TO AUSTRALIA’S 2017 OPEN WOMEN’S TEAM
Georgia Blair (Fr., INF, Gold Coast, Australia) is one of 25 athletes who will compete for Australia’s 2017 Open Women’s Team this summer.
Blair and her teammates will compete in the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City from July 5-9 against Japan, USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Philippines, and the USA Junior Women’s National Team.
The next week Blair will be outside Vancouver, B.C., in Surrey, to compete in the Canada Cup from July 11-17 against some of the world’s top national teams.