March 30, 2009

Softball to Play Local Rival San Jose State

March 30, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After playing four mid-week games last week, the Santa Clara softball team returns to the South Bay to take on local rival San Jose State. The Broncos, who have been on the road for their last 12 contests, will remain on the road to take on the Spartans in a doubleheader at SJSU Field in San Jose on Tuesday, March 31. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. Led by freshman slugger Briana Knight, the Broncos (5-25) look to snap a five-game losing streak and earn their sixth win of the season.

Last Time Out
The Broncos dropped a pair of games to both then-No. 24 Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara in two mid-week doubleheaders last week. The SCU offense struggled to get on the board, as Santa Clara only scored 10 runs to CP and UCSB's combined 32 runs. On March 24, in their early game against the Mustangs of Cal Poly, the Broncos' posted their best performance of the week. Santa Clara earned a solid 7-3 lead in fourth inning, behind senior captain Noelani Ho'opi'i, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. CP then rallied back with seven runs of their own to hand the Broncos a 10-7 loss. In the second game of the doubleheader the Mustangs' momentum from scoring seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings, carried through as they defeated Santa Clara 9-1, to sweep the season series.

The following day, SCU could not bounce back from the 0-2 day in San Luis Obispo, as they fell in two straight to the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara. UCSB shutout the Broncos 6-0 in the first game, and took a 7-2 victory to hand Santa Clara their second straight sweep. In the seven-run second game loss, sophomore Amanda Edmonson tallied a two-RBI hit to put Santa Clara on the board for the only time against Santa Barbara. It was the Bronco infielder's seventh and eight RBIs of the season.

Ho'opi'i Posts a Strong Road Trip
Senior captain Noelani Ho'opi'i has been a stronghold in the Bronco lineup all season. As the lone senior on the team, she provides her fellow teammates with veteran leadership both on-and-off the field. While at then-No. 24 Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last week, the Kaneohe, Hawai'i native went 5-for-13, with three RBIs and a run. On March 24, against CP she was responsible for three of the Broncos seven runs in the game. This season the Bronco first baseman is hitting .230, with 17 hits, nine RBIs and seven runs. She is the top-10 in three different statistical categories in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC), and is tied for third with nine steal attempts and seven stolen bases. She has also been hit by three pitches this season, for sixth in the PCSC.

On the Road Again
Santa Clara has not felt the comforts of playing at home since a doubleheader sweep of Northern Illinois on March 11. Since posting a perfect 2-0 record at home, SCU has played their subsequent 12 games on the road. The Broncos will remain on the road for a doubleheader at San Jose State on March 31 and four games at Portland State on April 4-5, before returning home to host conference rival Loyola Marymount from April 10-11.

Knight Continues to Lead in Breakout Rookie Campaign
Outfielder Briana Knight continues to tear up the plate in her freshman campaign with a team-leading .333 batting average. The Bay Area product is 29-for-87 this season, with 18 RBIs, 11 doubles, 10 runs, four stolen bases, three home runs and a triple in 29 starts and 30 games played. She is eighth in overall batting average in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) and is in the top-10 in eight different conference statistical categories. She leads the league with two sacrifice flies, is second overall in doubles with 11 and is in third place with a .586 slugging percentage. Knight rounds out the conference top-10 in batting average, on base percentage, RBIs and walks.

From the Plate to the Mound: Jenna Fong an All-Around Asset
In only her second year in the Bronco uniform and her first season as a pitcher, sophomore Jenna Fong has made her mark in the SCU lineup. Fong, who pitched in all four games this past week, leads the Santa Clara rotation with 27 strikeouts, three wins and three complete games. In 23 appearances she has pitched a team-high 84.2 innings. At the plate she is hitting .259, for second on the team. She posts 14 hits, five RBIs, five runs, four doubles and a home run.

Scouting San Jose State
The Spartans of San Jose State (13-23, 2-4 WAC) host the Broncos after going 2-1 in their weekend series versus Utah State. Leading the SJSU offense is Kelli Fangonilo, who is 34-for-109 in 36 straight starts. She is hitting a team-leading .312 batting average, and posts 21 runs, 14 RBIs, 10 doubles and two triples. She's tallied a .440 slugging percentage and a .370 on base percentage. On the mound, the Spartans four-player rotation is led by Amanda Pridmore, who is 6-6 this season. In 25 appearances, she's tallied 67 strikeouts, four complete games, two saves and one shutout. In 97.2 innings pitched, she's given up 110 hits, 50 runs and 25 walks.

On Deck
After Tuesday's game at San Jose State, the Broncos will kick off conference play on the road at Portland State. SCU will take on PSU in four games from April 4-5.