A Brief Preview
The Sacramento State softball team enters the week with a 14-24 overall record and a 2-7 mark in the Big West
Conference. The Hornets swept a non-conference doubleheader at Santa Clara last Wednesday before being swept in a three-game series at home by Cal State Northridge. The victories on Wednesday gave Sacramento State a season-best four-game winning streak before its weekend slide against the Matadors.
This week, Sacramento State will host fifth-ranked Cal on
Wednesday, April 11, for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. The team
will then play a three-game conference series on the road against
Utah State on Friday-Saturday, April 13-14. The Hornets and Aggies
play a doubleheader on Friday and a single game on Saturday.
Although the Hornets were swept over the weekend, the team
has still won five of its last nine games after losing a season-worst
eight-straight games from March 17-29. The Hornets are currently 2-10
at home and 7-2 on the road. Sacramento State has now lost 10 of its
last 12 Big West series (spanning the last three seasons) and has
been swept on five of those occasions.
Cal enters the week with a 41-4 record and a No. 5 ranking in
the USA Today/NFCA poll after sweeping Oregon in two games last week.
The Bears, who were 39-1 until losing three in a row two weeks ago,
are 8-3 at home, 3-0 on the road and 30-1 in neutral site games.
Wednesday''s meeting will be the first of the season between the
Hornets and Bears. Cal won two of three games from Sacramento State
Utah State enters the week with a 5-27 overall record and a
1-8 mark in the Big West. The Aggies have lost seven in a row and 24
of their last 26 games. The team was swept in a three-game series at
Pacific over the weekend and has scored a combined four runs in its
last six games. Last season, the Hornets won two of three games over
the Aggies in Sacramento.
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 503-464-3
career record in 17 years. During her eight seasons with the Hornets,
Strahan has a 256-219-2 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 503 victories is good for 29th all-time on the NCAA
list among active head coaches with at least five years of Div. I
Cal is coached by Diane Ninemire who has posted a 584-303
record in 15 seasons with the Bears.
Utah State is guided by Pam McCreesh. In her fourth season
with the Aggies, McCreesh has posted a 47-123 record.
|2001 Big West Standings|
|(as of April 8)|
|Cal State Fullerton||8-0||35-10|
|Long Beach State||6-2||17-21|
|Cal State Northridge||6-3||22-19|
|UC Santa Barbara||1-8||13-25|
Look at the Hornets
Problems At Home
The Hornets are now just 2-10 at home this season after
dropping three to Cal State Northridge last weekend. The team has
lost 10 of its last 11 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'' 12 games
at home, 10 have come against ranked opponents (two games against
12th-ranked Iowa, three vs. 10th-ranked Cal State Fullerton, two vs.
16th-ranked Oregon State and three vs. 25th-ranked Cal State
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 180-101-2 (.642) at home.
Comebacks Have Been Scarce
Thus far, Sacramento State is 0-15 in games when it is
trailing after five innings. The sixth inning has been unkind to the
team as opponents have outscored the Hornets, 41-7. In the sixth and
seventh innings combined, Sacramento State has been outscored, 55-17.
Pitching Continues To Impress
While the offense has been faltering, the Hornets'' pitching
staff (Jillian Bivert, Gina Steenburgen and Nicole Deatherage) has
kept the team in games. Despite allowing six runs in last Sunday''s
game, Sacramento State''s pitching staff still has a 1.16 ERA over the
last 11 games. During that span, the staff had a streak of
35.0-consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The team has
recorded seven shutouts (Bivert has three, Deatherage three and
Steenburgen one), which already eclipses last year''s total of six.
At 14-24 and 10 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 351-307-2 since joining the
Div. I ranks.
Shortstop Andrea Becker, catcher Patty Villa and pitcher Gina
Steenburgen each missed Sunday''s game with injury.
Becker, who has already played her entire career with a
herniated disc and degenerative disc disease, injured her shoulder in
a collision with left-fielder Amber Dragomir while catching a pop-up
on Saturday. Becker didn''t play on Sunday and is doubtful for
Wednesday''s games and questionable for this weekend.
Villa, who has been battling a neck injury for the majority
of the season, sat out Sunday''s game with the same injury. Villa is
the team''s only true catcher but has already missed seven starts this
year with the injury.
Steenburgen, who has already been battling a stress fracture in her ankle since last season, missed all of last week''s games with a strained groin. She is questionable for next week. Steenburgen has been the hottest Hornet pitcher of late as the sophomore has allowed just two earned runs in her last four outings, spanning 28.0 innings.
Sacramento State''s offensive production, which began the
season at a blistering pace, has tailed off considerably over the
last three weeks. The team has scored more than two runs just twice
over the last 18 games. During that span, the Hornets are averaging
just 1.5 runs per game and have seen the team batting average slip
from .254 on March 16 to its current mark of .238.
Additionally, Sacramento State recorded at least 10 hits in
four of the first seven games this season, but have not accomplished
the feat in 31 games since. Numerous members of the team are in
offensive slumps including Cathy Coupar (five hits in last 44
at-bats), Lori Meixner (two hits in last 16 at-bats), Roni Rodrigues
(one hit in last 14 at-bats), Patty Villa (four hits in last 35
at-bats) and Mary Villalpando (no hits in last 15 at-bats).
Deatherage recorded singles in her first two career at-bats
on Sunday...the team is collectively batting .229 with runners on
base and .223 with runners in scoring position...the Hornets are 5-4
in games that Amber Dragomir bats lead-off......Hornet catchers have
thrown out the last six runners trying to steal...Sacramento State
has currently gone three-straight games without committing an error
for the first time all year...the team has been outscored, 34-20, in
the first inning.
|A Look at the Projected Hornet Starters|
| || || || || || || |
|C||22||Patty Villa||5-3||Sr.||.227||Sat out Sunday''s game with a neck injury|
|1B||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||.303||Leads team with .303 BA, 14 RBIs, 47 total bases|
|2B||8||Lori Meixner||5-8||Jr.||.255||Team-leading 13 walks; .354 on-base percentage|
|SS||14||Andrea Becker||5-4||Sr.||.209||Sat out Sunday''s game with an injured shoulder|
| ||9||Roni Rodrigues||5-9||So.||.211||Has not started the last 15 games|
|3B||20||Meghan Cunningham||5-10||Jr.||.188||17 starts at 3B, eight at 1B and eight at C|
|LF||6||Arlette Sunseri||5-0||Jr.||.152||7-for-9 in stolen base attempts, seven sacrifices|
|CF||13||Cathy Coupar||5-7||Jr.||.302||.302 batting average despite 5-for-44 slump|
|RF||3||Amber Dragomir||5-6||Fr.||.300||Has hit safely in 10 of last 14 games|
|DH||21||Jennifer Jokinen||5-9||Sr.||.286 ||Team-leading .510 SLG%, six doubles|
|UT||12||Mary Villalpando||5-6||Jr.||.048||Has started three of the last four games at 3B|
|P||7||Jillian Bivert||5-8||So.||1.70||4-8 record, holding opponents to a .218 average|
|P||11||Nicole Deatherage||5-7||Fr.||3.05 ||Team-leading seven wins, 117.0 innings|
|P||15||Gina Steenburgen||5-6||So.||3.59||Did not pitch last week with groin injury|