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SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO NORTHERN COLORADO FOR FIRST PLACE SHOWDOWN

Big Sky Conference standings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State softball squad will hit the road for the first time in three weeks when the team travels to Northern Colorado for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday. The Hornets and Bears will play a doubleheader on Friday at 12 p.m. PDT, followed by a single game at 12 p.m. PDT.

Though still early in the conference season, the Hornets (15-15, 4-1) and Bears (12-25, 3-0) square off in a showdown of the top two squads in the Big Sky as both are in a virtual tie for first place. Last weekend, Sacramento State split a home doubleheader in a rain-shortened two-game series with Southern Utah while Northern Colorado swept a three-game set at Weber State.

Friday will mark the first time in over three weeks that Sacramento State will play on the road as the Hornets just completed a 10-game homestand with a 7-3 record. Sacramento State is 7-12 away from home this season, and 1-7 when playing on an opponent's home field. The Hornets will need to play better on the road as 11 of the team's final 14 regular season games will come on road, including nine conference matchups.

Overall, Sacramento State has won five of its last six games, and over that span, the team is batting .374 with a .441 on-base percentage while the pitching staff has a 1.23 ERA while yielding a .215 opponents batting average.

The 4-1 league record matches the Hornets' best mark after five conference games in over 20 years (the 1993 squad began the Western Athletic Conference season with a 5-0 record).

Sacramento State is 4-1 all-time against Northern Colorado, and the Hornets won two of three games against the Bears last season at home. Each of those three games were decided by three runs or less, including Sacramento State's victories of 2-1 and 1-0. Caitlin Brooks tossed a three-hit shutout in the 1-0 win, and Jennifer Hartman allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings in the 2-1 victory.

Northern Colorado lost at Colorado State on Wednesday afternoon in extra innings, snapping a four-game winning streak. The Bears have still won eight of their last 11 games after the team had been 4-22 through the first 26 games of the season.

GAME/SERIES INFO
at Northern Colorado (12-25, 3-0)
Friday, April 4, at noon (Doubleheader); Saturday, April 5, at noon (single game)
Greeley, Colo. - Butler-Hancock Softball Field
Coverage: Live Stats
Series Record: Sacramento State Leads, 4-1
Current Streak: Sacramento State has won two straight
Last Meeting: W, 1-0, in Sacramento (3/23/13)

HORNET NOTABLES

STREAKING
Over the last six games, in which the Hornets are 5-1, Sacramento State has been impressive at the plate and in the circle. During the six-game stretch, the team is batting .374 (58-for-155) with 26 RBIs, six stolen bases, a .441 on-base percentage and a .351 average with runners on base. Five different Hornets are batting at least .350 during the six games, including Alexis Martinez (.588) and Sasha Margulies (.500). In the circle, Sacramento State has yielded a miniscule 1.23 ERA while allowing just six extra base hits in 40.0 innings and limiting the opposition to a .215 batting average. Taylor Stroud (0.00 ERA) and Kaitlyn Yerby (0.39 ERA) have been nearly impossible to score upon during the six games.

OFFENSIVELY SPEAKING
As mentioned above, the Hornets are batting .374 over the last six games while averaging 5.7 runs per contest and collecting 26 RBIs. During the first five weeks of the season, in which the team was 10-14, the Hornets were hitting .248 while averaging just 2.9 runs per game and collecting 58 RBIs. Sacramento State has scored at least four runs in six straight games, after doing so just six times during the first 24 games of the season.

PITCHING RICH SQUAD
Sacramento State's pitching rotation has a 2.57 ERA, easily the top mark in the Big Sky, and 52nd best in the nation among the 350 Div. I squads. The Hornets also lead the conference in opponents batting average (.241) and fewest home runs allowed (7). Caitlin Brooks (1.31), Kaitlyn Yerby (1.95), Jennifer Hartman (3.07) and Taylor Stroud (3.70) all have respectable ERAs, and three of the four have thrown at least one shutout. That includes a pair of shutouts from both Brooks and Stroud.

TAKING 17 FOR THE TEAM
Right fielder Paige Martin has already been hit by 17 pitches this year, or once every 5.8 plate appearances. The 17 plunkings and her average of 0.57 plunkings per game are both tied for second in the nation. Amazingly, she was hit four times in last Friday's doubleheader, and has now been hit by 13 pitches in the last 13 games. The 17 plunkings combined with her nine walks have contributed to Martin's team-high on-base percentage of .464 which is the fifth best mark in the Big Sky.

SITTING ATOP THE CONFERENCE IN NUMEROUS CATEGORIES
In conference games, Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in batting average (.400), on-base percentage (.470), hit-by-pitches (8), ERA (1.48) and opponents batting average (.212). Individually, Hornet players account for four of the league's top 11 marks in batting average, including Sasha Margulies (2nd, .538), Alexis Martinez (3rd, .533), Nicole Clark (6th, .462) and Alexa Chattleton (11th, .429). Margulies' .667 on-base percentage is easily the top mark in the conference. Among all pitchers, Taylor Stroud has the league's best ERA (0.00) and opponents batting average (.086).

HITTING STREAK REACHING LOFTY STATUS
Sasha Margulies currently has a nine-game hitting streak, the longest run by a Hornet since Emily McCormick's nine-game streak last season. Over those nine games, Margulies, who has one of the prettier opposite field strokes, is batting .462 (12-for-26) with four runs, two doubles, a homer, eight RBIs, six walks and a .563 on-base percentage. The eight RBIs are four more than any other Hornet during the nine-game stretch. She has now hit safely in 21 of the 28 games in which she has appeared. Should she hit safely in both games of Friday's doubleheader, the 11 games would tie for the seventh longest hitting streak of the Hornets' Div. I era (1990-pres.).

MORE HITTING STREAKS
Sasha Margulies isn't the only Hornet that currently has a sizeable hitting streak. Five other Hornets have hitting streaks of at least three games long, comprised of Nikki Gialketsis (6), Kortney Solis (5), Alexis Martinez (4), Paige Castro (3) and Yesenia Alcala (3). During her four-gamer, Martinez has three multi-hit games and is hitting .571 (8-for-14) over that stretch.

THREE-DOT DATA
Sacramento State is 11-0 when leading after four innings, and 1-12 when trailing after the fourth…the team is 13-4 when scoring first, and 2-11 when the opponent scores first…Sacramento State has scored 29 runs in the fourth inning, and 21 in the second inning. The 50 combined runs produced during those two innings make up nearly half of the team's 104 runs this year…Alexis Martinez is hitting a team-high .387 with runners in scoring position, and .378 with runners on base. She leads the Hornets in both multi-hit games (8) and multi-RBI games (4)…Sacramento State is 14-5 when the opposition scores three runs or less, and 1-10 when the opponent scores four or more runs…the Hornets have sacrificed just 13 times this year, and four times in the last 10 games.…the Hornets are 6-1 when Yesenia Alcala hits in the No. 7 spot of the lineup, and 8-4 when Sasha Margulies bats in the cleanup spot…in eight road games this year, Sacramento State is batting .224 with just nine RBIs in 196 at-bats while the pitching staff has yielded a 5.10 ERA…should the Hornets win five more games this year, it will mark Sacramento State's 12th consecutive season with at least 20 overall victories.

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