March 7, 2006

NIST-Twin Creeks Tournament on Deck for Broncos

March 7, 2006

Santa Clara, Calif. - After facing a tough Pac-10 school in No. 4 UCLA last weekend at the Stacy Winsberg Tournament, the Santa Clara softball team will get a chance to redeem themselves against two more Pac-10 rivals in No. 10 Arizona State and No. 6 California this week.  The Sun Devils will visit Marsalli Park this Thursday at 6 p.m. for the Broncos home opener, while the Golden Bears will be just one of many opponents this weekend at the NIST-Twin Creeks Tournament, hosted by San Jose State.  On Friday, Colorado State will be up first at 3 p.m., followed by California.  The contests on both Saturday and Sunday will be determined by the outcome of Friday's matches.

Arizona State enters Thursday's game with an impressive 21-1 record, including a 4-1 performance last weekend at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. The Sun Devils have a trio of pitchers they can rely upon to get it done in the circle, as Katie Burkhart, Desiree Serrano, and Ashley Werschky have all pitched all least 33 innings this season. Burkhart and Serrano have combined to strikeout 174 batters they have faced. Offensively, Kaitlin Cochran is the top ASU hitting threat, batting .484 with 31 hits overall, six of them being homeruns. Clint Myers is in his first season at Arizona State after spending 19 successful seasons at Central Arizona College, spending time with both the baseball and softball teams.

"ASU is going to be another strong program for us to face. Having to play a single game before the NIST is good so we can keep our swings going strong," said head coach Steve Rianda. "We are playing well right now and need to keep building each day. If you look at the level of play from opening day to now you can tell how much progress we have made in a short amount of time."

Heading into the NIST-Twin Creeks Tournament, Colorado State boasts an overall record of 14-4, with two victories over Northern Colorado coming this past Tuesday. Kim Klabough is the top hurler for the Rams, with a 6-0 mark and 1.49 ERA. She also has a team-leading 43 strikeouts on the year. Jessi Strickland and Lauren Cusick make a powerful one-two punch on offense, as they lead the team in homeruns with 6 and 4, respectively. Additionaly, Strickland is hitting .491 with 28 hits on the year, while Cusick is averaging .467 at the plate with 21 hits. Mary Yori is in her sixth season as the head coach of the Rams and has accumulated an overall record of 151-126 while at Fort Collins, Colo.

"They have a good team and it will be a good battle. We need to take the same approach versus Colorado State as we do with Arizona State and if we do, we'll do well," stated Rianda.

California possesses an overall record of 13-2 this season, with a doubleheader with Saint Mary's College on Wednesday prior to the start of the NIST-Twin Creeks Tournament. Senior Haley Woods was recently crowned the Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance at the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Hawai'i. In her first two games, she went 6-for-6 at the plate, with five home runs, including a grand slam. Over the entire weekend, she finished 8-for-10 with 12 RBI and five runs. Anchoring the Golden Bears in the circle will be returning Second Team All-American selection Kristina Thorson, who owns a record of 8-2 in 2006.

"California is a strong team that we will face again this season. They have good talent and we are excited to play them," stated Rianda.