SOFTBALL HOSTS BOISE STATE ON TUESDAY
THIS WEEK’S PREVIEW
Sacramento State (9-22) has just a pair of non-conference tuneup dates remaining before the team jumps into Pacific Coast Softball Conference play on April 10...the first of those tuneups comes this Tuesday, March 30, when the Hornets host Boise State (11-17) for a doubleheader at 1 p.m...the Broncos are currently in just their second season of softball as the team’s first-ever game came on Feb. 6, 2009...Sacramento State and Boise State are both extremely young as the Hornets routinely start at least eight underclassmen, and the Broncos have just three upperclassmen on their entire roster...Boise State has caught fire of late, carrying a five-game winning streak into Tuesday’s doubleheader, which includes sweeping a three-game Western Athletic Conference series from New Mexico State last weekend...conversely, the Hornets, who played last week without their top player (Desiree Beltran), top pitcher (Megan Schaefer) and top run producer (Erin Jones), have lost seven of their last 10 games...Tuesday’s doubleheader will wrap up a month of March in which the Hornets will have played 13 home games...however, after the Boise State doubleheader, Sacramento State has just four home dates remaining on the schedule comprised of four-game series against both Santa Clara (April 10-11) and Cal State Bakersfield (May 1-2)...at last weekend’s Aggie Stampede, Sacramento State went 1-3, which included a victory over UC Riverside, and losses to UC Davis, 14th-ranked Cal, and UC Riverside...live stats of Tuesday’s doubleheader will be available at www.hornetsports.com...head coach Kathy Strahan is currently in her 18th season at Sacramento State, and needs just seven wins for her 500th career victory in a Hornet uniform (493-461-2).
• YOUTH IS SERVED - To say that the Hornets are going through a youth movement this season would be an understatement. With a roster that includes eight freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors and two seniors, head coach Kathy Strahan routinely starts at least eight underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores). In fact, the team has started nine underclassmen on 10 occasions this year. Senior right fielder Jenice Bartee is the only non-pitching upperclassman on the roster that routinely starts games. The pitching staff has of a pair of juniors (No. 1 starter Megan Schaefer and No. 3 starter Jacquelyn Serrano) that see playing time.
• INJURIES TAKING A TOLL - Injuries to three of the Hornets’ top players, shortstop Desiree Beltran, second baseman Jessica Abelia and pitcher Megan Schaefer, have taken a toll on this year’s team. Beltran, who was a first team all-Pacific Region selection last year, has already missed 18 games because of an ankle injury and is likely out for the season. To say that the Beltran injury has had an impact on this year’s team is an understatement as she was hitting .462 at the time of the injury and is the team’s best player. Schaefer, who was a first team all-conference selection last year, is still working her way back from offseason wrist surgery and has already missed at least six starts this season because of a concussion. Abelia was hitting .320 before fracturing her hand after getting hit by a pitch on March 20 vs. Utah State. Like Beltran, Abelia is likely out for the season. There is no time table for Schaefer’s return.
• EIGHT OUTFIELD ASSISTS....ALREADY? - Senior right fielder Jenice Bartee already has eight assists this season, which is the new program record for outfield assists. Bartee, who picked up her eighth assist in the team’s 18th game of the season against Cal Poly, surpassed the previous record of seven, set by Amber Dragomir (2001), Lindy Winkler (2003, 2005) and Bartee (2008). What makes the eight assists even more remarkable is she has thrown out seven batters at first base after fielding a ball that went through the right side of the infield (9-3 putout). Bartee is now one assist shy of matching the career mark for outfield assists (21), set by Winkler.
• DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING - Heading into last week’s Aggie Stampede, Sacramento State’s fielding percentage of .973 was the 17th best mark in the nation. However, the Hornets combined for nine errors at last week’s four-game tournament, including four Sunday vs. UC Riverside. That dropped the team’s fielding percentage all the way down to .966.
• MASHIN’ NAKKEN - To say that sophomore first baseman Alyssa Nakken has been the hottest Hornet over the last few weeks would be an understatement. Over the last 12 games, she leads the team in batting average (.447), runs (9), hits (17-for-38), home runs (3), RBIs (11), total bases (30), slugging percentage (.789) and on-base percentage (.512). Nakken has struck out just three times and has hit safely in 10 of those 12 games. Overall this season, she is now batting .343 and is the team leader in at-bats (99), runs (19), hits (34), doubles (10) and home runs (4).
• FIFTH INNING BLUES - Of the opposition’s 139 runs scored against the Hornets this season, 34 of those runs (nearly 25 percent of the total output) have been scored in the fifth inning. In fact, Sacramento State has been outscored, 34-13, in the fifth inning this season. If you exclude the fifth inning, the Hornets have been outscored, 105-84.
• OTHER NOTES - First baseman Alyssa Nakken, center fielder Kelli Frye and right fielder Jenice Bartee are the only Hornets to appear in all 31 games this year...the Hornets are 0-13 when the opposition scores five runs or more...Hornet pitching has allowed just nine home runs this year.