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SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO SAN LUIS OBISPO THIS WEEK FOR FIVE GAMES

Sacramento State (8-5) travels to San Luis Obispo, Calif., this week to compete in the Mustang Classic for the fourth time in six years. Each of the five teams at the tournament will play five games over three days (March 8-10), and the Hornets will play twice on Friday, twice on Saturday, and once on Sunday.

Sacramento State is joined at the tournament by host Cal Poly (5-14-1), Rutgers (6-4), Nevada (9-11) and Northern Illinois (6-7). The Hornets will play both Rutgers (11:30 a.m.) and Nevada (7 p.m.) on Friday, Cal Poly (4:30 p.m.) and Northern Illinois (7 p.m.) on Saturday, and Cal Poly again (1 p.m.) on Sunday.

All five games will take place at Bob Janssen Field on the Cal Poly campus.

By the time Sunday's game against Cal Poly concludes, Sacramento State will have played 15 of its first 18 games of the season away from home. However, beginning with next week's three-day Capital Classic, the Hornets will play seven straight, and 11 of the next 12 games inside the friendly confines of Shea Stadium.

The Hornets' 8-5 record is the team's best after 13 games since the 2008 squad was also 8-5. That 2008 team happens to be the last Sacramento State softball squad to qualify for the NCAA Regionals.

MULTIMEDIA OPTIONS FOR THIS WEEK

Cal Poly is offering live stats for every game of the tournament by clicking here. In addition, live audio is being offered for both of the Hornets' games against Cal Poly by clicking here.

AGAINST RUTGERS

Friday, March 8, at 11:30 a.m.
Coverage: Live Stats
Series Record: First Meeting

AGAINST NEVADA
Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m.
Coverage: Live Stats
Series Record: Hornets Lead, 17-14
Streak: Hornets have won two straight
Last Meeting: W, 10-1 (5 innings), in Reno (3/7/12)

AGAINST CAL POLY
Saturday, March 9, at 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 10, at 1 p.m.
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Audio
Series Record: Mustangs Lead, 20-19
Streak: Mustangs have won five straight
Last Meeting: L, 3-0, in San Luis Obispo (3/13/10)

AGAINST NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Saturday, March 9, at 7 p.m.
Coverage: Live Stats
Series Record: Series Tied, 1-1
Streak: Hornets won the last meeting
Last Meeting: W, 11-3 (5 innings), in Sacramento (3/17/11)

HORNET BRIEFS

• Sacramento State has played the 2013 season thus far with seven new positional starters. The only two returning starters from a year ago are third baseman Emily McCormick and center fielder Kelli Frye. New starters include Kortney Solis (C), Alyssa Vanderdrink (1B), Kayla Papez (2B), Yesenia Alcala (SS), Alexa Chattleton (LF), Paige Martin (RF) and Makenzie Wayadande (DP). Martin, Smith, Alcala and Chattleton all made starts last year, but did not finish the season as the starter at those respective positions.

• All but one of the Hornets' 13 games thus far have been decided by three runs or less. The one game that doesn't fall under that category was a 6-2 victory at Santa Clara last weekend. Amazingly, eight of the team's 13 games have been decided by a single run, and Sacramento State is 6-2 in those games.

• Sacramento State has proven it is never out of a game by evidence of two victories in which it overcame a two-run deficit in the final inning this season. That includes the 3-2 win over Southern Miss and 4-3 victory against Santa Clara last Sunday. In fact, the team is 4-4 when trailing after four innings, 3-2 when trailing after five innings, and 2-3 when trailing after six innings. By comparison, in 2012, the Hornets were 2-12 when trailing after four innings, 3-12 when trailing after five innings, and 2-14 when trailing after six.

• Sacramento State pitchers have now accounted for Big Sky Conference Pitcher of the Week awards three times during the first four weeks of the season. That includes Caitlin Brooks earning the honor on Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, and Jennifer Hartman on March 5. The staff of Brooks, Hartman, Taylor Stroud and Kaitlyn Yerby has impressed thus far, combining for a Big Sky-best 1.88 ERA and .225 opponents batting average. That 1.88 ERA is two full runs better than the next closest Big Sky team in terms of ERA (Northern Colorado 4.08). The staff has yet to allow more than four runs in a game, has given up just 18 extra base hits in 93.0 innings of work, and has nearly a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (75 strikeouts, 28 walks).

• The Hornets are currently the only team in the Big Sky Conference with a winning percentage above .500. The other six teams in the league enter the week with a combined 24-69-1 record, including Idaho State (6-8), Northern Colorado (7-10-1), Portland State (5-15), Southern Utah (3-12), North Dakota (2-10) and Weber State (1-14).

• Sacramento State is hitting just .256 as a team while averaging 2.8 runs per game this season. However, the team showed signs of snapping out of its offensive funk last week when the Hornets hit .288 while averaging 3.8 runs in five games.

• Although the offensive production is off to a slow start, the Hornets have come through with a number of big hits this season, as evidence by the team's .317 batting average (32-for-101) with runners in scoring position. That included back-to-back, two-out RBI-singles from Paige Martin and Kayla Papez in the seventh inning of Sunday's come-from-behind 4-3 win over Santa Clara. The team's top hitters with runners in scoring position this year have been Papez (.600, 3-for-5), Martin (.500, 8-for-16), Kelli Frye (.462, 6-for-13) and Kortney Solis (.364, 4-for-11).

• Freshman designed player Alexis Martinez will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in practice on Friday, Feb. 22. At the time of her injury, Martinez was batting .294 with a team-best .455 on-base percentage, and looked like the Hornets' fixture at designated player. The injury has been difficult to overcome thus far as three different players have combined to go 2-for-11 with four strikeouts, no runs scored and no RBIs in the designated player spot since Martinez's injury.

• Fourth-year senior and team tri-captain Kelli Frye has been on an incredible roll since the midway point of last season. The Corona, Calif., native has hit safely in all but two games this year, and in a ridiculous 34 of her last 39 games dating back to last season. She is currently leading the team in batting average (.340), runs (9), hits (17), total bases (19) and stolen bases (3).

• Sophomore right fielder Paige Martin has reached base safely via hit and/or walk in 11 straight games. Over that 11-game stretch, she is batting .389 (14-for-36) with a .450 on-base percentage.

• Senior third baseman Emily McCormick is currently riding a career-high seven-game hitting streak. During that seven-game stretch, she is batting .320 (8-for-25) with three doubles, three walks and three RBIs.

• Only four players have started all 13 games thus far, comprised of Kelli Frye (CF), Paige Martin (RF), Yesenia Alcala (SS) and Emily McCormick (3B). Fifteen different Sacramento State players have already started at least two games this season.

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