SOFTBALL HOSTS CAL ON WEDNESDAY, OPENS PCSC PLAY THIS WEEKEND AGAINST SAN DIEGO
Sophomore third baseman Emily McCormick has hit safely in 17 of 21 games this season
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento State softball squad continues its 14-game homestand this week with five more games, including a Wednesday matinee against ninth-ranked Cal, and a four-game weekend series against Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) rival San Diego.
Wednesday’s game against Cal begins at 3 p.m., and will mark the Hornets’ final non-conference tuneup of the season before the San Diego series marks the team’s PCSC opener. The Hornets and Toreros will play doubleheaders at noon on both Saturday and Sunday. Sacramento State opened the homestand last Wednesday against UC Davis, and this weekend will mark the first of three straight four-game PCSC series at home (April 16-17 vs. Saint Mary’s; April 22-23 vs. Loyola Marymount). In fact, the Hornets will not have to leave Sacramento until the final day of the month when the team travels to the Bay Area for a four-game set at Santa Clara.
The 14-game homestand ties for the most consecutive stretch of home games in program history (the 2009 squad also played 14 straight home contests).
The Hornets (8-15) have dropped four of their last five games heading into Wednesday’s game against Cal. Sacramento State is 3-4 at home this year, and has seen seven of its scheduled home games canceled because of rain.
Cal is currently ranked ninth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate top 25 poll, and will bring a 22-6 record into Wednesday’s game. The Bears opened Pacific-10 Conference play last weekend by dropping two of three games at home against third-ranked Arizona State. Cal had dropped four straight until defeating the Sun Devils on Sunday. The Bears are led in the circle by Jolene Henderson (20-5, 0.91 ERA) and offensively by Jamia Reid (.478 batting average, 15 stolen bases).
San Diego will bring a 10-13 record into this weekend’s four-game series. The Toreros have dropped six of their last eight games, and are 8-7 in games played away from home. San Diego’s pitching staff has a conference-best 2.50 ERA, and all three of the team’s primary starters have ERA’s below 2.75. However, all three of those pitchers (Jenny Lahitte, Cassidy Coleman and Kaitlin Healy) have records below .500 as San Diego’s offense hasn’t provided much support, averaging just 3.3 runs per game.
All five games this week will have multimedia options, including live audio and live stats.
AGAINST CAL: The Hornets are 11-46 all-time against the Bears. Sacramento State’s last win against Cal came on March 24, 2009, a 2-1 home victory in eight innings that was capped by a walkoff single from former Hornet Alicia Noriega.
AGAINST SAN DIEGO: Sacramento State is 24-8 all-time against San Diego with all 32 meetings coming during PCSC play (the conference was formed in 2003). That includes a 10-4 record when the two teams play in Sacramento. Last season, the Hornets and Toreros split a four-game series in San Diego.
AGAINST RANKED OPPOSITION: Cal will be the fifth ranked team that Sacramento State will play this year. The Hornets are 0-4 in previous matchups against ranked opponents, including losses to then 22nd-ranked San Diego State (4-2), 11th-ranked Washington (7-4), ninth-ranked UCLA (5-3) and 12th-ranked Stanford (9-1). Cal will be the highest ranked team the Hornets have played this year.
PCSC OPENERS: Sacramento State is 4-4 in its first conference game of the season since joining the league in 2003. In addition, the Hornets are a combined 22-9 in their opening weekend of PCSC play (Sacramento State saw one of its four games at Portland State canceled to rain in 2007).
- Sophomore third baseman Emily McCormick brings a career-high tying six-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s game, and is batting .350 (7-for-20) with two runs, a homer and two RBIs over that span. McCormick has hit safely in 17 of the 21 games she has appeared in, including another six-game hitting streak earlier this year from Feb. 18-March 9.
- Junior Alyssa Nakken (first base) and freshman Devin Caldwell (second base) remain the only Hornets to start all 23 games this season. Sophomore Emily McCormick would have started every game at third base, but missed two contests with a concussion.
- In her last four starts (three at catcher, once at designated player), sophomore Molly Smith is hitting .636 (7-for-11) with three runs, a homer, a walk and an RBI. Since her two-hit game in the second game of a doubleheader against Pacific on March 9, Smith has raised her batting average 225 points to its current mark of .308.
- Junior Alyssa Nakken’s 14 runs are seven more than any other Hornet, and are tied for the eighth best mark in the PCSC. Nakken, who has batted leadoff in all 23 games, has scored at least one run in 11 games. With the help of a team-high tying 12 walks, her on-base percentage of .388 is the top mark on the squad.
- Sophomore Kelly Shepard has started the last four games in center field, the first starts of her career at the position. She started the first 38 games of her career in either left (33 starts) or right field (five starts) prior to the move to the center. Shepard is hitting .324 (12-for-37) this season and six of her 12 hits have been infield singles.
- Freshman right fielder Paige Martin has hit safely in seven of her past nine games, and is batting .370 (10-for-27) over that stretch. Her overall batting average of .310 is the third best mark on the team. She has batted in five different spots in the lineup, including fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth.
- Of her 11 appearances this season, senior right-hander Megan Schaefer has allowed two earned runs or less nine times, and currently has a 2.79 ERA. If you exclude her two shaky outings (against Fresno State and Stanford), Schaefer’s ERA would be a 1.38.
- Junior right-hander Shelby Voelz has not pitched since March 12 against Utah State because of a concussion sustained in a car accident. Her return to the rotation remains in question as concussions are difficult to predict. The sooner the better for both Voelz and the Hornets as she was dominant in PCSC play last season. The Vancouver, Wash., native was a first team all-conference selection in 2010 after going 6-3 with a 1.58 ERA against league opposition.
- Freshman right-hander Taylor Stroud appeared to work herself out of a mini slump last week with three solid innings against UC Davis. Prior to the game against the Aggies, Stroud had been roughed up in four straight appearances. Through March 13, she had a 0.95 ERA after tossing a two-hit shutout of Utah State. However, opponents batted .407 off the right-hander over her next four appearances before she appeared to right the ship against UC Davis.
- Freshman Devin Caldwell is 4-for-5 (.800) with the bases loaded this year while the rest of the team is 6-for-28 (.214) in bases-loaded situations.
- Sacramento State has outscored the opposition, 37-33, during the even innings (innings 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10), but has been outscored, 61-28, during the odd frames (innings 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11).
- The Hornets are 6-4 when scoring first, but just 2-11 when the opponent scores first.
- Sacramento State has recorded at least eight hits in eight of the last 12 games after doing so just twice through the first 11 games.