A Brief Preview
After enduring its longest losing streak in nine years (eight
games), the Sacramento State softball team has turned things around
lately, winning three of its last four games. The Hornets enter the
week with a 12-21 overall record and a 2-4 mark in the Big West
Conference. The team opened last week by getting swept in a home
doubleheader against 15th-ranked Oregon State before splitting a
doubleheader with Portland State on Thursday. The Hornets closed the
week by winning two of three games in a Big West series at UC Santa
Barbara over the weekend. Head coach Kathy Strahan picked up her
500th career victory on Saturday.
This week, Sacramento State plays a non-conference
doubleheader at Santa Clara on Wednesday, April 4, before hosting a
three-game Big West series against Cal State Northridge on
Saturday-Sunday, April 7-8. Saturday''s doubleheader will begin at
noon and Sunday''s single game will also begin at noon.
Santa Clara enters Wednesday''s games with an 11-24 overall
record and a five-game losing streak. After beginning the season 7-8,
the Broncos have won just four of their last 20 games. The team is
6-8 at home this year, but has won just two of its past eight games
at Marsalli Park. The Broncos defeated the Hornets, 9-3, earlier this
year at the National Invitational Tournament.
Cal State Northridge enters the week with a 19-17 overall
record and a 3-3 mark in the Big West. The Matadors, who are
currently receiving votes but are not ranked in the USA Today/NFCA
poll, play a home doubleheader against top-ranked UCLA on Wednesday
before travelling to Sacramento this weekend.
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 501-461-3
career record in 17 years. During her eight seasons with the Hornets,
Strahan has a 254-216-2 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 501 victories is good for 29th all-time on the NCAA
list among active head coaches with at least five years of Div. I
Santa Clara is coached by Marcy Crouch, who has posted a
22-64 record in two years with the Broncos.
Cal State Northridge is led by Janet Sherman, who is
232-141-3 in seven years with the club.
|2001 Big West Standings|
|(as of April 2)|
|Cal State Fullerton||6-0||33-10|
|Long Beach State||6-0||17-19|
|Cal State Northridge||3-3||19-17|
|UC Santa Barbara||1-5||13-22|
A Look at the Hornets
Big Turnaround by Steenburgen
After getting off to an inauspicious start this season,
sophomore pitcher Gina Steenburgen has turned it around over the past
two weeks. The right-hander has allowed just two earned runs over her
last four outings (spanning 28.0 innings). This comes after she
posted a 1-3 record and a 5.73 ERA over her first nine appearances of
She has gone the distance in each of her last four starts
while allowing just 16 hits and striking out 16 over that span. In
three starts last week, Steenburgen went 2-1 with a 0.33 ERA
including her first shutout of the season and the second of her
career against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. The El Dorado, Calif.,
native blanked the Gauchos on four hits while striking out four.
Overall this season, Steenburgen is now 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA.
Before the four-game surge, she had allowed at least five runs in six
of her first nine appearances.
Pitching Staff Beginning To Take Shape
Sacramento State''s pitching staff (freshman Nicole Deatherage
and sophomores Gina Steenburgen and Jillian Bivert) has now gone 35.0
consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Over that span
(six games), the staff has lowered its ERA from 3.38 to its current
mark of 2.87. The three pitchers have combined to allow seven runs
over the 35.0 innings, but each run was unearned.
Additionally, the staff has combined to throw 11-straight
complete games, including three from Deatherage and four from Bivert
Steenburgen and Deatherage threw back-to-back shutouts on
Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Bivert picked up the loss against
the Gauchos on Saturday despite allowing just two hits and two
unearned runs in six innings.
In Thursday''s doubleheader against Portland State,
Steenburgen allowed four hits and two unearned runs in the Hornets''
4-2 second-game victory. Bivert picked up the loss in the first game
despite allowing just two hits (again) and three unearned runs in the
team''s 3-0 loss in game one.
So far this year, the pitching staff has combined for six
shutouts (Deatherage three, Bivert two and Steenburgen one), which
already matches the staff''s output from all of last season.
Comebacks Have Been Scarce
Thus far, Sacramento State is 0-14 in games when it is
trailing after five innings. The sixth inning has been unkind to the
team as opponents have outscored the Hornets, 41-6. In the sixth and
seventh innings combined, Sacramento State has been outscored, 55-16.
Hornets Having A Rough Time Of Things
Although Sacramento State has won three of its last four
games, the team is still currently nine games under .500 (12-21
overall). The nine games is the most the team has been under .500 in
the Div. I era (1990-pres.).
Since 1990, the team has had just three losing seasons,
including a 25-30 record last year. Overall, the Hornets are
349-304-2 since joining the Div. I ranks.
The Hornets also snapped a season-high eight-game losing
streak in last Thursday''s victory over Portland State. The eight-game
streak was the Hornets'' longest drought since the team dropped 10 in
a row in 1991.
Freshman outfielder Amber Dragomir has hit safely in eight of
her last nine games and is hitting .500 (15-30) over that span with
three runs scored. In that time, the Tustin, Calif., native has
raised her average from .250 to its current mark of .324.
During that stretch, Dragomir also had a season-high
seven-game hitting streak which was snapped last Saturday when she
went 0-for-4 in the second game of the doubleheader against UC Santa
Among team leaders, Dragomir is first in runs (19), second in
batting average, stolen bases (six) and hits (33), and third in
on-base percentage (.355) and total bases (34). She has started all
but one game this season, including 28 starts in right and four in
Sophomore Jillian Bivert is putting together quite a season
as she is now leading the team in both batting average (.330) and ERA
(1.77). The Woodland, Calif., native leads the team in seven
offensive categories including average, hits (35), RBI (14), total
bases (45), on-base percentage (.368), multiple-hit games (12) and
multiple-RBI games (three). Additionally, she has had three hitting
streaks of at least four games including a season-high six-gamer on
On the mound, she has allowed opponents a .226 batting
average while giving up just 55 hits in 63.1 innings. Of her 10
starts, she has thrown eight complete games and two shutouts. Her 3-7
record can partly be attributed to poor defense as 16 of her 32 runs
given up have been unearned.
Sacramento State''s offense has combined to score just 17 runs
in the last 13 games (1.3 per game)...Jillian Bivert, Cathy Coupar
and Lori Meixner are the only Hornets to start all 33 games.