April 17, 2006

Santa Clara Takes a Shot at First-Place Portland State

April 17, 2006

Santa Clara, Calif. - Currently sitting in third place after the first two weekends of Pacific Coast Softball Conference play, Santa Clara (15-26) will have a shot at gaining ground on Portland State, the leader of the league with an unblemished record of 5-0.  After last weekend's split with Sacramento State, Santa Clara finds itself four games back out of first place, with a PCSC record of 4-4.  Saturday and Sunday's doubleheader will take place at Marsalli Park, with game times scheduled for noon on both days.

However, before Santa Clara can focus on Portland State, it must prepare for No. 11 California, as the two Bay Area squads will face off on Wednesday afternoon at Marsalli Park. First pitch is scheduled to go out at 3 p.m.

California (36-6, 5-3 Pac-10) is coming off of a 1-2 mark over the weekend, beating Pacific-10 Conference foe Stanford Friday afternoon before dropping two games to the Cardinal on Saturday. Leading the way for the Golden Bears all season long has been senior Haley Woods, who has belted a team-leading 12 homeruns this season to go along with her 49 hits, 44 RBIs and .386 batting average. Lindsey James and Alex Sutton trail closely in hits, accounting for 47 and 40, respectively. Anchoring California in the circle will be returning Second Team All-American selection Kristina Thorson, who owns a record of 26-4 in 2006 while striking out 284 batters.

"Cal is going to be tough. We are looking for some people to step up against the competition and break out," noted head coach Steve Rianda. "Both Cal and us are battling with some injuries. We played them tough the first time around for most of the game and then had a couple errors get us in the hole."

Portland State carries an overall record of 24-12 heading into this weekend's contests with Santa Clara, although a game with instate rival Oregon State will be up first on Tuesday. Laura Segall leads the team in hits with 37 and Mandy Hill and Jackie Heide are close behind with 35 and 30, respectively, on the year. Heide has posted a team-leading nine homeruns this season, in addition to her club-high nine doubles. Hill is alos one of the top pitchers on the team, notching a 1.91 ERA on her way to a 15-4 record. She also leads the team in strikeouts, with 117. Amy Hayes is currently in her first year as the head coach of Portland State after serving as an assistant at the University of Oregon during the 2005 season.

"Portland State will be a great test and conference games are always full of excitement. Portland State has been doing very well with a new coach and we look to knock them off the top of the mountain," stated Rianda. "Not having seen them play this year, we are doing what we can to prepare both offensively and defensively. Their team is a combination of power and speed and their pitching staff has done really well."