April 4, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara softball team faced a difficult preseason schedule in 2006, highlighted with eight contests against teams from the always tough Pacific-10 conference and that experience will serve them well come this weekend, when Pacific Coast Softball Conference play opens up with San Diego in a doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday. Game times are slated for a noon start on both days. However, Santa Clara (11-22) will have one more Pac-10 foe in its path before league play begins, as 2005 Pac-10 Co-Champions Oregon State visits Marsalli Park on Thursday for a twin bill. First pitch is expected to be thrown out at 1 p.m.
Prior to its match with Santa Clara, No. 6 Oregon State (28-3) will battle in-state rival Oregon on Tuesday, March 6. Last weekend, the 2005 Pac-10 Co-Champions battled Arizona and Arizona State in the opening matches of the Pac-10 Conference, coming away with a 1-1 record. Junior All-American Brianne McGowan is OSU's standout in the circle, as she owns a team-leading 1.38 ERA and a 16-2 mark in 2006, fanning 111 batters along the way. In addition, McGowan has blasted seven homeruns thus far, tying her with DeAnn Young for tops on the team. Mia Longfellow has accumulated the most hits thus far in the season for Oregon State, with 44 hits that includes 11 doubles and two triples. Kirk Walker is in his 12th season at the helm of the Beaver softball program and has compiled an overall record of 378-303-2 during his tenure.
Oregon State is one of the hottest teams right now and will be a good challenge for our team before conference," noted head coach Steve Rianda. "We know what we have to do out on the field and now we have to put it into action. Hopefully the weather will clear and we can get on a field."
Prior to opening up the PCSC with Santa Clara, San Diego will host a doubleheader on April 5 against Louisiana Tech. Last weekend, San Diego dropped a pair of games to host UC Riverside, dropping its overall record to 12-14 on the year. Sara Mason and Kathleen Bonja are the top offensive threats for the Toreros, as they combine for 56 hits on the year at a .356 and .345 batting average, respectively. Erin Harmonson is the top pitcher for USD, with a 3.26 ERA and a 7-7 mark on the year. Melissa McElvain is in her fifth year as the head coach of the Toreros.
"San Diego is doing well this year and will be a good team to open with," stated Rianda. "Most of the conference has had some very strong streaks this season and it is time for the Broncos to get on a hot streak. We are excited to get conference play started."