SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO MONTANA WITH OPPORTUNITY TO WIN THE BIG SKY TITLE

SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO MONTANA WITH OPPORTUNITY TO WIN THE BIG SKY TITLE

Complete set of game notes (12 pages - pdf)
Big Sky Conference standings

THIS WEEK

• Sacramento State (27-17, 12-6) will embark upon its biggest week of the season thus far as the Hornets will play three games at Montana (23-26, 9-9) on Friday and Saturday. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Friday at 2 p.m. PDT, and a single game on Saturday in the regular season finale at 12 p.m. PDT. All three games will take place at Grizzly Softball Field.
• This week marks the end of Big Sky regular season play, and the Hornets control their own destiny to win the Big Sky regular season title and assume the No. 1 seed at next week's postseason tournament.
• The winner of this year's regular season championship will host next year's Big Sky Tournament. This year's tournament (May 10-12) will take place in Ogden, Utah.
• Sacramento State and Weber State (12-6) are currently tied atop the Big Sky standings. Should the two teams finish the weekend tied, the Hornets would get the tiebreaker based on taking two of three games from Weber State earlier this year in Ogden.
• Weber State will host Northern Colorado for three games this week. The only way Weber State wins the regular season title is if the Wildcats win at least one more game in their series this week than Sacramento State posts in their series at Montana.
• Since the Big Sky began sponsoring softball in 2013, Sacramento State has yet to win a Big Sky regular season or tournament title. Sacramento State is 71-40 (.640 winning percentage) all-time in Big Sky play with three second place finishes, but has yet to get over the hump and win a league title.
• This year's Big Sky Tournament will feature a six-team field (two teams do not qualify) with the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds both receiving a first round bye. Sacramento State needs just one win this week to clinch at least a first round by in the double elimination tournament.
• Montana also has a lot at stake. Based on this week's outcomes, the Grizzlies could play their way into a first round bye or be out of the tournament completely. One win clinches them a spot.

MULTIMEDIA OPTIONS

• Free live video streams will be available for all three games this week via www.watchbigsky.com and Pluto TV. In addition, Saturday's game will be televised in Missoula on SWX.
• Just like every game this season, live stats will be available for all three games this week.
• All hyperlinks to the multimedia options can be found next to the games on the softball schedule at www.hornetsports.com.

vs. MONTANA

• Sacramento State has enjoyed success against Montana, going 8-3 against the Grizzlies since Montana began sponsoring softball in 2015.
• The Grizzlies did take two of three from the Hornets last season in Sacramento.
• The two teams have played three league series while also playing in a non-conference game in 2016 and a Big Sky Tournament game (Hornet 10-4 win) that same year.
• Sacramento State has made just one trip to Missoula when the Hornets took two of three games on April 1-2, 2016.
• Montana won last year's Big Sky Tournament title, and was selected to finish first in this season's Big Sky preseason coaches poll. Weber State was picked second, and the Hornets were selected third.

A WHOLE BUNCH OF HORNET NOTES

• The Hornets' Nos. 1-3 hitters pack a serious punch, as leadoff hitter Nene Alas (.367), No. 2 hitter Zamari Hinton (.399) and No. 3 hitter Suzy Brookshire (.377) are all hitting well above .350. In fact, those are currently the top three batting averages in the entire conference.
• Also leading the conference is senior right-hander Celina Matthias, who continues to make a serious case for Big Sky Pitcher of the Year. Matthias is 17-8 with five shutouts, five saves and a 2.03 ERA. She has struck out 190 batters in 179.1 innings, and opponents are hitting just .206 when she is in the circle. She leads the Big Sky in numerous categories, including first in wins, ERA, strikeouts, opponents batting average, innings and appearances (36). Matthias has the win or the save in 22 of the team's 27 wins.
• Hinton (.399 batting average) is attempting to become just the fifth Hornet in the Div. I era (1990-pres.) to hit .400 or better. The previous four were Lindy Winkler (.434 in 2006), Desiree Beltran (.413 in 2009), Jamie Schloredt (.408 in 2008) and Sasha Margulies (.404 in 2015).
• After going the first 140 at-bats of the season without striking out, Hinton has struck out twice in her last 13 at-bats, including once in the opener vs North Dakota and yesterday at Cal.
• Brookshire currently has 14 home runs, and is one shy of the program single-season record of 15 she set last year as a freshman. Prior to Brookshire's 15 bombs a year ago, no Hornet had ever hit more than 12. Despite being just a sophomore, Brookshire's 29 career homers are the second most in school history, six shy of the record of 35, set by Jamie Schloredt from 2006-09. Brookshire currently ranks among the top three players in the Big Sky in average (.377), slugging percentage (.815), on-base percentage (.468), homers, RBIs (46), runs (37), doubles (13) and total bases (106).
• Sacramento State has scored four runs or less in 19 straight games. Prior to that run, the Hornets were batting .311, and ranked 27th in the nation with an average of 5.84 runs per game. The Hornets are hitting .248 with an average of 2.4 runs per game during the last 19 contests.
• The Hornets are currently 27-17 overall, and are attempting to finish at, or above, the .500 mark for the first time since the 2008 squad posted a 32-21 record. That 2008 team was also the last Sacramento State softball team to qualify for NCAA Regionals. That year, the team won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference title to get the automatic berth into the NCAAs.
• Hinton currently has an eight-game hitting streak, and Brookshire has hit in five straight games.
• Sacramento State is hitting .290 with runners in scoring position, and four players are hitting better than .300 with RISP, including Hinton (.429), Sydnee Strong (.333), Sydney Rasmussen (.324) and Brookshire (.318).
• The Hornets have played just 12 games on an opponent's home field this season, and are 6-6 in those games. That includes a 4-5 road record in Big Sky play.
• Sacramento State is outscoring its opposition in the first inning by a 38-18 margin, leading to a 21-7 record when the Hornets score first in a game.
• The Hornets are 20-2 when leading after four innings.
• Should the Hornets win all three games this week at Montana, Sacramento State would match its best Big Sky record (15-6), which was set in both 2016 and 2017.
• The Hornets have committed just two errors in their last nine games, and the team's .969 fielding percentage ranks second in the Big Sky (behind Montana's .971 mark).
• The Hornets went 15-7 at home this year, winning 13 of their last 16 games at Shea Stadium.