SOFTBALL TRAVELS SOUTH FOR SERIES VS. 18TH-RANKED PACIFIC PDF
A Brief Preview
The Sacramento State softball team enters the week with a
16-27 overall record and a 4-8 mark in the Big West Conference. The
Hornets opened last week by losing a non-conference doubleheader
against fourth-ranked Cal by the scores of 9-1 and 5-1. The team came
back to win its second Big West series of the season, taking two of
three from Utah State on Friday-Saturday in Logan, Utah. Friday''s 9-0
game one victory over the Aggies snapped Sacramento State''s five-game
losing streak as the team has now endured losing streaks of eight,
five and four games this season.
This week, the Hornets travel to Stockton, Calif., on
Saturday-Sunday, April 21-22, for a three-game conference series
against Pacific. In four conference series this year, the Hornets
have been swept in three games by both Cal State Fullerton and Cal
State Northridge, and have taken two of three from both UC Santa
Barbara and Utah State.
Pacific enters the week with a 38-9 overall record and a 9-3
mark in the Big West. The Tigers, who are tied for second in the
conference, are currently ranked 18th in the USA Today/NFCA softball
poll. Pacific took one of three games against first-place Cal State
Fullerton last week and has now won nine of its last 12 games. The
Tigers have taken two of three games from the Hornets each of the
last three years.
Meet the Coaches
Hornet head coach Kathy Strahan, who has spent time as head
coach with Cal State Dominguez Hills (1984-85), San Jose State
(1986-92) and Sacramento State (1993-pres.), has posted a 505-467-3
career record in 17 years. During her eight seasons with the Hornets,
Strahan has a 258-222-2 record while guiding Sacramento State to a
pair of NCAA Regional appearances in 1993 and 1995. The Michigan
State graduate has also been named Western Athletic Conference Coach
of the Year in 1993 and co-Big West Conference Coach of the Year
while at San Jose State in 1989.
Strahan''s 505 victories is good for 29th all-time on the NCAA
list among active head coaches with at least five years of Div. I
Pacific is guided by Brian Kolze who is 259-226-1 in nine
years with the Tigers.
|2001 Big West Standings|
|(as of April 16)|
|Cal State Fullerton||11-1||38-11|
|Cal State Northridge||9-3||25-19|
|Long Beach State||7-5||18-24|
|UC Santa Barbara||3-9||15-26|
A Look at the Hornets
Problems At Home
The Hornets are now just 2-12 at home this season after being
swept in a non-conference doubleheader by Cal last week. The team has
lost 12 of its last 13 games at Shea Stadium after winning its home
opener over Iowa, 6-5, on March 13.
Part of the reason for the lack of success is due in large
part to the strength of schedule this year. Of the Hornets'' 14 games
at home, 12 have come against ranked opponents (two games against
fourth-ranked Cal and 12th-ranked Iowa, three vs. 10th-ranked Cal
State Fullerton, two vs. 16th-ranked Oregon State and three vs.
25th-ranked Cal State Northridge).
In fact, the Hornets have scored more than two runs only
twice this year at home and have been outscored, 61-21 (an average of
2.9 runs per game).
The team has recorded just two losing records at home since
joining the Div. I ranks in 1990 (the 1994 squad finished 13-14-1 and
the 1990 team finished 12-13). Overall in the Div. I era, the Hornets
are 180-103-2 (.635) at home.
At 16-27 and 11 games under .500, the Hornets are trying to
avoid their worst season in Div. I history (1990-pres.). That
distinction currently goes to the 1991 (28-33), 1994 (25-30-1) and
2000 (25-30) squads, who each finished five games under .500.
Coincidentally, those teams are the only ones to finish below .500 in
the Div. I era. Overall, the Hornets are 353-310-2 since joining the
Div. I ranks.
With starting shortstop Andrea Becker sidelined with a
shoulder injury since April 7, head coach Kathy Strahan has juggled
her infield trying to find the perfect fit.
Against Cal last Wednesday, Strahan started Lori Meixner at
shortstop for just the fourth time this season and Alaina Lofthus at
second base for the sixth time.
Over the weekend, Roni Rodrigues started all three games at
shortstop against Utah State after not starting in 17-consecutive
games. Meghan Cunningham was asked to start two games at first base
and one at third. Meixner started twice at third base after playing
just one game there all year. Overall, Strahan used four different
infield looks in the five games.
Becker, who was injured after colliding with left fielder
Amber Dragomir while making a catch of a pop-up, is questionable for
Comebacks Have Been Scarce
Thus far, Sacramento State is 0-18 in games when it is
trailing after five innings. The sixth inning has been unkind to the
team as opponents have outscored the Hornets, 42-8. In the sixth and
seventh innings combined, Sacramento State has been outscored, 58-20.
Bivert In A Groove
After beginning the season as the Hornets'' No. 3 starter,
sophomore Jillian Bivert has emerged as the team''s most consistent
and reliable pitcher. The Woodland, Calif., native, who also leads
the team with a .304 batting average and 18 RBI, threw back-to-back
shutouts against Utah State last Friday and Saturday. The left-hander
threw a one-hit shutout on Friday and followed that up with a
six-hitter on Saturday.
She currently leads the pitching staff in ERA (1.65),
opponents'' batting average (.222), shutouts (five), walks per seven
innings (2.3) and extra base hits allowed (12). Bivert, who has not
allowed a run in 14.0-consecutive innings, has given up just 81 hits
and 23 earned runs in 97.1 innings.
Among Big West leaders, Bivert is tied for sixth in
opponents'' batting average and ninth in ERA. Her current record
stands at 6-9. That record could be better but the team has averaged
only 1.9 runs per contests in games she starts. Subtract last
Friday''s game in which the Hornets scored nine runs, she would be
receiving 1.4 runs per game.
Another Coupar Sighting
After enduring a 5-for-47 slump which spanned 15 games,
junior center fielder Cathy Coupar began to get her swing back last
week. The left-hander went 4-for-12 with three RBI in the final four
games of the week. Coupar, who is still hitting .298 despite the
slump, is one of three Hornets to start every game this year.
The Livermore, Calif., native was hitting .417 as late as
March 17 before her slide. Coupar remains second on the team in RBI
(16) and total bases (43) and tied for second in multiple-hit games
(11) and hits (39).
Coupar has continued to produce in the clutch all year long
as she is hitting .400 with the bases loaded, .390 with runners in
scoring position, .324 with two outs and .305 with runners on base.
Offense Struggles In the Clutch
Although Sacramento State''s offense has put up a respectable
amount of runs this season (118), the team could be scoring much more
if it could produce in the clutch. Overall, the Hornets are hitting
.195 with two outs, .226 with the bases loaded, .240 with runners in
scoring position and .240 with runners on base.
Junior Lori Meixner is third in the Big West with 10
sacrifices...freshman pitcher Nicole Deatherage has recorded two wins
since March 10, a span of 14 appearances...Amber Dragomir (eight
stolen bases) and Arlette Sunseri (seven stolen bases) rank sixth and
seventh, respectively in the Big West in that category...senior
catcher Patty Villa has already thrown out 14 runners trying to steal
(tops in the conference) despite missing eight starts due to
injury...sophomore Gina Steenburgen threw 2.1 innings on Friday after
missing the previous 10 games because of an injured groin.
|A Look at the Projected Hornet Starters|
| || || || || || || |
|C||22||Patty Villa||5-3||Sr.||.248||5-for-12 last week with three doubles|
|1B||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||.304||Leads team with .304 BA, 18 RBIs, 55 total bases|
|2B||8||Lori Meixner||5-8||Jr.||.252||Played twice at 3B and SS, once at 2B last week|
| ||10||Alaina Lofthus||5-8||Jr.||.000||Started three games at 2B last week|
|SS||14||Andrea Becker||5-4||Sr.||.209||Sat out last week''s games with injured shoulder|
| ||9||Roni Rodrigues||5-9||So.||.197||Game-winning hit against Utah State on Sat.|
|3B||20||Meghan Cunningham||5-10||Jr.||.198||Three starts at 1B, one at C and 3B last week|
|LF||17||Yolanda Estrada||5-2||Jr.||.265||5-for-12 last week with two doubles and three RBI|
| ||6||Arlette Sunseri||5-0||Jr.||.147||7-for-9 in stolen base attempts, seven sacrifices|
|CF||13||Cathy Coupar||5-7||Jr.||.298||.298 average, has started all 43 games in CF|
|RF||3||Amber Dragomir||5-6||Fr.||.287||Tied for eighth in Big West with 23 runs|
|DH||21||Jennifer Jokinen||5-9||Sr.||.276||Leads Big West with three sacrifice flies|
|P||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||1.65||Threw back-to-back shutous over Utah State|
|P||11||Nicole Deatherage||5-7||Fr.||3.40||Team-leading seven wins, 127.2 innings|
|P||15||Gina Steenburgen||5-6||So.||3.86||Battling groin injury, pitched 2.1 innings Friday|