SOFTBALL CONCLUDES ROAD TRIP THIS WEEK AT PACIFIC AND IDAHO STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State (17-16, 6-2) wraps up a seven-game road trip this week with four games, including a three-game series at rival Idaho State on Friday and Saturday.
The Hornets will play Tuesday night against Pacific (13-21) at 6 p.m. That game is a makeup of what was supposed to be the season opener for both teams on Feb. 8, but rain forced a postponement. After Tuesday, Sacramento State will turn its attention back to Big Sky Conference play when the team takes on Idaho State (21-15, 4-2) in Pocatello. The Hornets and Bengals will play a doubleheader on Friday at noon PDT, followed by a single game on Saturday at noon PDT.
Sacramento State won two of three games last week against Northern Colorado, and now finds itself in a tie for first place in the league standings with Southern Utah (6-2) at the midway point of the conference season. The top four teams in the seven-member league qualify for the Big Sky Championship, and the regular-season winner will host the tournament. Currently, the top four squads are Sacramento State, Southern Utah, Idaho State (4-2) and Northern Colorado (4-2). The Hornets have just nine conference games remaining on the regular season schedule.
Sacramento State has won nine of the last 12 games after dropping to a season-low five games below the .500 mark at 8-13 on March 15. The Hornets have won two of their last three road games, but are still just 3-8 when playing on an opponent's home field.
Sacramento State and Pacific will renew a rivalry that began in 1979 and has seen the Hornets post a 35-52-1 record in the all-time series, including 14-23-1 when playing in Stockton. Pacific has won five straight meetings between the two teams after the Hornets had won seven in a row between 2008 and 2011.
Sacramento State is 4-4 all-time against Idaho State, but has dropped three straight games to the Bengals. That included a 10-9 loss in the first round of last year's Big Sky Championship in Pocatello when the Hornets held a 9-7 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. This week's matchup pits the Big Sky's top hitting team and the league's top pitching squad. Idaho State leads the Big Sky in virtually every offensive category, including batting average (.337), slugging percentage (.492), on-base percentage (.412), runs (222) and RBIs (199). The Bengals' 222 runs scored (7.0 per game) are 64 more than any other team in the conference.
Game/Series Info vs. Pacific
at Pacific (13-21)
Tuesday, April 8, at 6 p.m.
Stockton, Calif. - Bill Simoni Field
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Audio, Live Video
Series Record: Pacific Leads, 52-35-1
Current Streak: Pacific has won five straight
Last Meeting: L, 3-0, in Sacramento (Feb. 12, 2013)
Game/Series Info vs. Idaho State
at Idaho State (21-15, 4-2)
Friday, April 11, at 12 p.m. PDT (Doubleheader); Saturday, April 12, at 12 p.m. PDT (Single Game)
Pocatello, Idaho - Miller Ranch Stadium
Coverage: Live Stats, Live Audio
Series Record: Series Tied, 4-4
Current Streak: Idaho State has won 3 straight
Last Meeting: L, 10-9 (8 innings) in Pocatello (May 9, 2013)
9-3 OVER THE LAST 12 GAMES
Over the last 12 games, Sacramento State is 9-3 after going just 8-13 through the first 21 games of the season. During that 12-game stretch, the Hornets are outscoring the opposition by 2.5 runs per game (4.9 - 2.4) and are hitting .339 with 14 doubles, three triples, two home runs and a .407 on-base percentage. In the circle, the Hornets' pitching staff has yielded just a 1.77 ERA while holding the opposition to a .221 batting average. In addition, the staff has given up just 14 extra base hits in 79.0 innings over that stretch.
PITCHING RICH SQUAD
Sacramento State's pitching rotation has a 2.68 ERA, easily the top mark in the Big Sky, and 65th best in the nation among the 350 Div. I squads. The Hornets also lead the conference in opponents batting average (.247) and fewest home runs allowed (8). Caitlin Brooks (1.30), Kaitlyn Yerby (2.40), Taylor Stroud (3.44) and Jennifer Hartman (3.50) all have respectable ERAs, and three of the four have thrown at least one shutout. Brooks' 1.30 ERA is currently the 20th best mark in the nation.
BACK IN A BIG WAY
After missing a month because of injury, junior right-hander Caitlin Brooks was back in the circle in the Hornets' 9-1 victory over Northern Colorado on Friday afternoon. Making her first start since March 8, Brooks allowed just two hits and one run while striking out nine batters in a mercy-rule shortened six-inning game. She faced just four batters over the minimum, struck out the side in her final inning of work, and her nine strikeouts were one shy of a season high. For her efforts, the reigning first team all-conference selection was named the Big Sky's Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season, and seventh time in her career.
TAKING 20 FOR THE TEAM
Right fielder Paige Martin now been hit by a pitch in five straight and seven of the last eight games. She has been plunked 20 times this year, and gets hit once every 0.61 at-bats. Both of those marks are second in the nation. Martin, who would rather wear a pitch on her person than dive out of the way of an oncoming pitch, also has nine walks this season. The 20 plunkings and nine walks have contributed to a team-best .482 on-base percentage, which is the third best mark in the Big Sky.
MARGULIES PLAYING AT A HIGH LEVEL
Halfway through the conference season, first baseman Sasha Margulies has established herself as one of the top offensive players in the conference. In Big Sky play, she is batting .579 with a .714 on-base percentage, and both of those marks easily lead the conference. In 28 plate appearances against conference pitching, she has been retired just eight times. In fact, she had reached base safely via hit or walk in eight straight plate appearances until going hitless in her final two at-bats on Saturday. She went 0-for-2 with a walk in that game, snapping an 11-game hitting streak which tied for the seventh longest in the team's Div. I era (1990-pres.). Overall, she is hitting a team-high .368, and if the season ended today, that would rank as the 10th best single-season mark in the program's Div. I era.
SITTING ATOP THE CONFERENCE IN NUMEROUS CATEGORIES
In conference play, Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in batting average (.395), on-base percentage (.458), hits (88), doubles (12) and hit-by-pitches (11). Individually, Hornet players account for four of the league's top 11 marks in batting average, comprised of Sasha Margulies (1st, .579), Nicole Clark (5th, .435), Paige Martin (10th, .409) and Alexis Martinez (11th, .400). The Hornets also lead the league in ERA in conference play at 2.33, and opponents batting average (.245). Taylor Stroud leads the Big Sky in both ERA (0.44) and opponents batting average (.167).
LINEUP CONSISTENCY PAYING OFF
Head coach Lori Perez has used the same starting lineup each of the last eight games, consisting of Alexa Chattleton in the leadoff spot followed by Paige Martin, Kortney Solis, Sasha Margulies at cleanup, Alexis Martinez, Paige Castro, Yesenia Alcala, Nikki Gialketsis and Nicole Clark. The lineup has been potent over that eight-game span, going 6-2. In addition, eight of those nine players are hitting at least .333 in conference play. The only player hitting below .333 (Alcala) is hitting a respectable .273 in Big Sky play. Amazingly, four of those players are hitting .400 or better.
PRODUCING IN THE CLUTCH
The Hornets have upped their team batting average with runners in scoring position to .283, and average with runners on base to .285. Six Sacramento State players are hitting at least .300 with runners in scoring position, comprised of Nicole Clark (.429), Kortney Solis (.375), Sasha Margulies (.375), Nikki Gialketsis (.368), Alexis Martinez (.342) and T.J. Watts (.300).
Sacramento State is 13-0 when leading after four innings, and 1-13 when trailing after the fourth…the team is 15-4 when scoring first, and 2-12 when the opponent scores first…Sacramento State has scored 31 runs in the fourth inning, and 28 in the second inning. The 59 combined runs produced during those two innings make up nearly half of the team's 124 runs this year…shortstop Paige Castro is currently riding a six-game hitting streak and is hitting .429 (9-for-21) over that span…Nicole Clark has a four-game hitting streak and is batting .417 (5-for-12) over that stretch…Sacramento State has been successful on each of its last eight stolen base attempts and is now stealing bases at a 92 percent rate this season (23-for-25)…seven different Hornets have posted hitting streaks of at least six games long, comprised of Sasha Margulies (11), Alexa Chattleton (8), Nikki Gialketsis (8), Kortney Solis (6), Alexis Martinez (6), Paige Martin (6) and Castro (6)…Sacramento State is 16-5 when the opposition scores three runs or less, and 1-11 when the opponent scores four or more runs…the Hornets have sacrificed just 14 times this year, and five times in the last 13 games.…should the Hornets win three more games this year, it will mark Sacramento State's 12th consecutive season with at least 20 overall victories.