Feb. 21, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - The season is young and improvements could be made, but the Santa Clara softball team (4-5) is coming together just nicely. Despite last week's 2-3 record at the Stanford Invitational, head coach Steve Rianda is excited about his team's progress and notes that they will be a team to be reckoned with the rest of the year.
"If we played like we did Sunday then we will do very well," Rianda said, referring to Sunday's 4-0 loss to No. 7 Stanford. "The team is starting to come together. Our pitching will keep us in any game and it's up to the hitting and defense to give us the wins."
In the loss to the Cardinal that Rianda spoke of, sophomore Jackie Morales pitched a great game that limited the 2005 Co-Pac-10 Champions to only five hits. Unfortunately, two of those hits turned out to be homeruns. Nonetheless, the Broncos are on the rise, thanks to the arm of Morales and the offensive prowess of seniors Jenny Brown, Jessica Clee, and Shannon Linerud.
This weekend, the Broncos travel to the Pacific Northwest to participate in the Husky Fever Classic, hosted by the University of Washington. On both Saturday and Sunday, Santa Clara will face Utah Valley State at 9 a.m., followed by No. 11 Washington at 1 p.m.
"Washington is going to be another tough series. They are a top-ranked team that has good pitching and some very strong hitters," commented Rianda. "Utah Valley State is another unknown team that we'll just have to play hard and focus on our game."
Washington hails from the difficult Pacific-10 Conference and enters the weekend with an overall record of 8-3 after finishing second at the LSU Tiger Classic last weekend. Infielders Ashley Charters and Sara Hyatt, along with pitcher Danielle Lawrie, were named to the All-Tournament team after guiding the Huskies to a 4-2 tournament record. Heather Tarr is in her second season at the helm of the softball program and has a career coaching record of 35-22 at Washington.
Utah Valley State will look to improve upon its 2006 record of 4-3 after dropping the final two games at New Mexico State's Troy Cox Invitational last weekend. Infielder Rachel Hartgrove was named to the All-Tournament team after posting six hits, one homerun, four RBI and a hitting percentage of .429 in five games. With a 3-1 mark, Jackie Roberts is the Wolverine's best pitcher, notching 27 strikeouts on the year. Todd Fairbourne has been the head coach of Utah Valley State for seven years and has compiled an overall record of 255-128-1.