SOFTBALL LOOKS TO BUILD ON WINNING STREAK THIS WEEKEND AT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
Sophomore second baseman Devin Caldwell is batting .315 this year, and .322 over her career
With just 13 games remaining on the conference schedule, Sacramento State (21-13, 4-3) will travel south this weekend for a huge Pacific Coast Softball Conference four-game series at Loyola Marymount (26-15, 4-4). The two teams will play doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Only two games separate the top four teams in the PCSC’s Coastal Division, comprised of first-place San Diego (6-2), Sacramento State (4-3), Saint Mary’s (4-3) and Loyola Marymount (4-4). CSU Bakersfield (3-5) and Santa Clara (2-6) are sitting in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The winner of the Coastal Division will face the winner of the Mountain Division in a three-game series (May 11-13) to determine the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.
Sacramento State opened the conference year by dropping its first three games at Saint Mary’s (fourth game of the series was rained out). The Hornets immediately dug themselves out of the early-season hole by sweeping all four games at home last weekend against Santa Clara. Each of the four games were close, and the Hornets made a pair of seventh inning comebacks to win both games on Sunday.
Sacramento State and Loyola Marymount have developed a rivalry against each other since the PCSC was formed in 2003. A big part of that rivaly stems from the fact that both teams are usually at or near the top of the conference standings nearly every season.
The Hornets are 18-22 all-time against Loyola Marymount, but have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two teams dating back to 2009. Last year, Sacramento State won three of four games at home, and swept all four games from LMU in Los Angeles in 2010. Since PCSC play began, the Hornets are 16-20 against the Lions, including a 6-10 mark when playing on the Lions’ home field.
On March 3, Sacramento State found itself with a 7-8 record after a loss that day to Pacific. However, since that time, the team is 14-5, which included a nine-game winning streak that stretched from March 4-18. Currently, the Hornets are riding a four-game winning streak, the third time this season the team has won at least four straight. In addition, Sacramento State’s 21-13 record is the team’s best through 34 games since the 1997 squad had an identical record.
Loyola Marymount entered conference play with a 22-11 record and had the conference’s highest RPI ranking. However, the Lions have posted a 4-4 league mark despite playing the bottom two teams in the Coastal Division (Santa Clara and CSU Bakersfield). LMU boats one of the nation’s top players in senior shortstop Sam Fischer who ranks among the nation’s top five players in batting average (.514), home runs (18), on-base percentage (.635) and slugging percentage (1.144). The likely first team All-American has accounted for nearly half the Lions’ home runs (40) and her 50 RBIs are exactly one-fourth of the team’s output for the season.
After this weekend’s games, Sacramento State will play a four-game home series against CSU Bakersfield (April 21-22) followed by a four-game road set at San Diego (April 28-29). If necessary, the team will also play its makeup game at Saint Mary’s at some point before the regular season concludes.
AGAINST LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
Saturday-Sunday, April 14-15, doubleheaders both days begin at 10 a.m.
Smith Field - Los Angeles, Calif.
Series Record against Loyola Marymount - Lions Lead, 22-18
Series Record against Loyola Marymount when playing in Los Angeles - Lions Lead, 12-8
Last Year Against LMU - Hornets won 3 of 4 games in Sacramento
Coverage: Live Audio, Live Stats
PITCHING STAFF TAKING SHAPE -- The Hornets have three pitchers on the staff this year, and each has been called on to start games throughout the season. It appears that head coach Kathy Strahan has settled on a rotation that consists of senior Shelby Voelz as the team’s No. 1 starter, freshman Caitlin Brook as the No. 2, and sophomore Taylor Stroud will handle duties out of the bullpen. All three have started at least eight games and made at least 15 appearances. Stroud has gained a decision in 15 of her 19 appearances, and is 10-5 with a 2.62 ERA despite making just eight starts all season. Voelz (6-3, 2.90 ERA) has allowed just one home run in 72.1 innings, and has a 1.94 ERA over her last six outings. Brooks (5-5, 4.16 ERA) leads the team with 15 starts, and opponents are hitting just .264 when she is in the circle.
THIEVERY -- Sacramento State leads the PCSC’s Coastal Division with 30 stolen bases, and the team has been successful on over 80 percent of its stolen base attempts (.811, 30-for-37). Ten different Hornets have at least one stolen base, but the trio of Kelli Frye (7-for-7), Shannon Kaufman (6-for-7) and Alyssa Nakken (6-for-7) has done the most damage on the base paths. The three have combined to steal 19-of-21 bases successfully.
SEVENTH INNING DOMINANCE -- Including a pair of seventh-inning comeback victories last weekend against Santa Clara, the Hornets are now outscoring opponents by a 20-4 margin in the seventh inning this season.
RUN PRODUCER -- Senior catcher Marissa Navarro already has 32 RBIs, the second highest total in the PCSC’s Coastal Division, and seven more than any Sacramento State player posted all of last season. In fact, Navarro, who is averaging nearly one RBI per game (32 RBIs in 34 games), is just one RBI shy of cracking the school’s top 10 for the most RBIs in a season during the Div. I era. At her current pace, she would finish the season with 44 RBIs, which would rank as the second best mark in Div. I history. Below is a list of the school’s top 10 in single-season RBIs.
1. Izmena Cabrera, 2008 -- 53
2. Jamie Schloredt, 2006 -- 42
3. Erin Jones, 2010 -- 40
4. Jamie Schloredt, 2008 -- 39
5. Jamie Schloredt, 2009 -- 37
Whitney Loomis, 2008 -- 37
7. Desiree Beltran, 2009 -- 36
8. Jillian Bivert, 2003 -- 35
9. Erin Coyne, 2003 -- 34
10. Rachel Miles, 2009 -- 33
COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH -- No Hornet has been better in clutch at-bats than junior Emily McCormick. The third baseman leads the team in batting average with runners in scoring position (.415, 17-for-41), and average with two outs (.405, 15-for-37). In addition, in 11 at-bats with a runner on third base and less than two outs, she has driven in the run on six occasions.
PURE HITTERS -- If the season ended today, Devin Caldwell, Emily McCormick and Shannon Kaufman would all rank in Sacramento State’s top seven for career batting average during the Div. I era (min. 200-at bats). McCormick’s .330 career batting average ranks fourth, Caldwell’s .322 average ranks sixth, and Kaufman’s .318 average is the seventh best mark.
NEVER SITTING OUT -- One of three Hornets to start all 34 games this season, senior first baseman Alyssa Nakken has now started 152 consecutive games dating back to her freshman season. The only time she missed came during her freshman season (2009) when she sat out 11 games because of a hamstring injury. For her career, she has started all 172 games in which she has appeared, batting .294 with a .372 on-base percentage.
1-RUN GAMES -- After beginning the season 2-4 in one-run games, Sacramento State has won each of its last seven one-run nail biters. In fact, six of the team’s last 10 wins have come by a single run. Overall, the Hornets are now 9-4 in one-run contests, including 3-1 in extra inning games.
PROWESS IN THE FIELD -- Sacramento State’s fielding percentage of .979 is tied for the third best mark in the nation. Sacramento State has committed just 21 errors this season compared to 56 for the opposition. The only teams with a higher fielding percentage are national powers Arizona (.985) and Tennessee (.983). In addition, the Hornets are tied for third with powers Arizona State and Cal. All four of those teams are currently ranked in the NFCA top 25 poll. Amazingly, third baseman Emily McCormick has yet to commit an error in 93 total chances (1.000), shortstop Jessica Abelia has just two errors in 97 chances (.979), second baseman Devin Caldwell has three errors in 132 chances (.977) and first baseman Alyssa Nakken has two errors in 231 chances (.991).