A Brief Preview
The Sacramento State softball team enters the week with a
16-30 overall record and a 4-11 mark in the Big West Conference after
being swept in a three-game series by 18th-ranked Pacific last
weekend. The Hornets have lost nine of their last 11 games and are a
season-worst 14 games under .500. In five conference series this
season, the Hornets have been swept in three games by Cal State
Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Pacific, and have taken two of
three from both UC Santa Barbara and Utah State.
Sacramento State will look to turn things around this week as
it hosts Cal Poly in a three-game Big West series this
Saturday-Sunday, April 28-29. The two teams play a doubleheader on
Saturday at noon and a single game Sunday at noon. Sunday''s game will
be Senior Day as the team will honor seniors Andrea Becker, Jennifer
Jokinen and Patty Villa for their contributions to the program prior
to the game.
Cal Poly enters the week with a 21-26 overall record and a
5-10 mark in the Big West. The Mustangs won two of three games from
Utah State over the weekend and have won four of their last five
games. Before the five-game stretch, Cal Poly had lost 13 of its
previous 17 contests. The Mustangs took two of three games from the
Hornets last year but Sacramento State has won six of the last eight
meetings between the two teams.
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 505-470-3
career record in 17 years. During her eight seasons with the Hornets,
Strahan has a 258-225-2 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
Cal Poly is coached by Lisa Boyer, who is 360-279-1 in 13
years with the Mustangs.
|2001 Big West Standings|
|(as of April 16)|
|Cal State Fullerton||14-1||41-11|
|Cal State Northridge||11-4||27-20|
|Long Beach State||8-7||19-26|
|UC Santa Barbara||3-12||17-29|
A Look at the Hornets
Bivert Leads The Pitching and the Offense
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 .295 batting average and 18 RBI, has allowed one run or less in four of her last five starts.
She currently leads the pitching staff in ERA (1.83), opponents'' batting average (.225), shutouts (five), walks per seven innings (2.3) and extra base hits allowed (17). Bivert, who hadn''t allowed a run for 20.0-consecutive innings until losing, 1-0, to Pacific on Saturday, has allowed 28 earned runs and 90 hits in 107.0 innings.
On the offensive side of things, Bivert leads the team in
batting average, RBI, hits (43), home runs (three), total bases (56),
on-base percentage (.333), multiple-hit games (14), multiple-RBI
games (four) and batting average against right-handers (.300).
Problems At Home
The Hornets are currently 2-12 at home this season and have
lost 12 of their last 13 games.
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 15th-ranked Iowa, three vs. ninth-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.
Comebacks Have Been Scarce
Thus far, Sacramento State is 0-20 in games when it is
trailing after five innings. The sixth inning has been unkind to the
team as opponents have outscored the Hornets, 43-8. In the sixth and
seventh innings combined, Sacramento State has been outscored, 60-20.
Even if the Hornets were to win their final eight games this
season, they would still finish with the worst record in their Div. I
history (1990-pres.). With a 16-30 record, the best the Hornets could
finish is six games under .500. The current Hornet low mark at the
Div. I level is five games under .500, held by the 1991 (28-33), 1994
(25-30-1) and 2000 (25-30) squads. Coincidentally, those teams are
the only three to finish below .500 in the Div. I era. Overall, the
Hornets are 353-313-2 since joining the Div. I ranks.
Struggling With The Bat
After being held to just eight hits over a three-game span
last weekend, the Hornets are now hitting a season-low .232 as a
team. Sacramento State has recorded five hits or less in 14 of its
last 21 games and has scored two runs or less in 22 of its last 26
The Hornets are on pace to finish with their lowest batting
average in 10 years. The 1991 team holds the record for the lowest
batting average in the Div. I era (.222).
Playing On The Road
Despite being swept by Pacific in Stockton, Calif., last
weekend, the Hornets still own a 9-6 record on the road. The team has
split a doubleheader with San Jose State, swept a doubleheader from
Santa Clara and has taken two of three from both UC Santa Barbara and
One major reason for the success on the road has been
pitching. The pitching staff has combined for a 1.45 ERA in 15 road
contests while throwing 13 complete games and seven shutouts. In
fact, seven of the Hornets'' nine shutouts this year have come on the
Jillian Bivert is 4-3 with a 0.84 ERA, Nicole Deatherage is
4-1 with a 1.34 ERA and Gina Steenburgen is 1-2 with a 3.05 ERA on
Sacramento State has accumulated 35 stolen bases this season,
which already ties for the fourth-best mark in the school''s Div. I
history. The Hornets, who have traditionally been a team that doesn''t
steal many bases, have four players with at least five swipes this
Amber Dragomir has nine stolen bases, Arlette Sunseri has
seven and Roni Rodrigues and Jillian Bivert each have five. Dragomir
is just two stolen bases shy of the single-season record of 11, held
by two players. The Hornets, who are 35-for-48 in stolen base
attempts this year, still need 16 swipes to tie the Div. I school
record of 51, set by the 1993 team.
Among Big West Leaders
Sacramento State is fourth in the eight-team Big West
Conference in hitting (.232), sixth in fielding percentage (.953) and
seventh in pitching (2.94). Freshman Amber Dragomir is sixth in
stolen basses (nine) and ninth in runs scored (23). Freshman Nicole
Deatherage is fifth in batters struck out looking (28), sixth in
innings pitched (135.2) and tied for eighth in starts (19). Junior
Lori Meixner is third in assists (128) and senior Patty Villa leads
the conference in throwing out runners trying to steal bases (14).
Senior Andrea Becker hit her first career home run Sunday
against Pacific...Patty Villa''s eight-game hitting streak earlier
this season remains the Hornets'' longest of the season...Sacramento
State pinch hitters are just 3-for-20 (.150) this year...no Hornet is
hitting above .280 in conference games.
|A Look at the Projected Hornet Starters|
| || || || || || || |
|C||22||Patty Villa||5-3||Sr.||.248||Did not play last week|
|1B||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||.295||Leads team with .295 BA, 18 RBIs, 56 total bases|
| ||20||Meghan Cunningham||5-10||Jr.||.197||11 starts at 1B, 12 at catcher, 18 at third base|
|2B||10||Alaina Lofthus||5-8||Jr.||.000||Has started eight of last nine games at 2B|
|SS||14||Andrea Becker||5-4||Sr.||.205||Hit first career home run Sunday at Pacific|
| ||9||Roni Rodrigues||5-9||So.||.197||In a 3-for-27 slump; started last two games at DH|
|3B||8||Lori Meixner||5-8||Jr.||.234||Six starts at 3B, five at SS, 35 at 2B|
|LF||17||Yolanda Estrada||5-2||Jr.||.238||Hitting .300 (6-20) over last seven games|
| ||6||Arlette Sunseri||5-0||Jr.||.149||7-for-9 in stolen base attempts, seven sacrifices|
|CF||13||Cathy Coupar||5-7||Jr.||.290||.290 average, has started all 46 games in CF|
|RF||3||Amber Dragomir||5-6||Fr.||.278||Has scored a team-high 23 runs in 45 games|
|DH||21||Jennifer Jokinen||5-9||Sr.||.267 ||Team-high .450 slugging percentage|
|P||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||1.83||14 complete games in 17 starts, .225 OBA|
|P||11||Nicole Deatherage||5-7||Fr.||3.30 ||Team-leading seven wins, 133.2 innings|
|P||15||Gina Steenburgen||5-6||So.||3.90||Has pitched twice in last three weeks; groin injury|