February 10, 2010

Softball Preparing For Opening Weekend Road Games

Feb. 10, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's softball team will open the season with four games (two doubleheaders) this weekend beginning on Friday in San Joaquin Valley and ending locally. The Broncos will face ESPN.com/USA Softball Preseason No. 24 Fresno State on Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and will visit San Jose State Sunday at noon.

After finishing the 2009 season with an unsatisfying 6-49 record, third-year head coach Lisa Mize and her team head into the 2010 season with optimism, riding the highs of some encouraging fall victories.

"We had a great fall this year, going 7-0 and building the team's confidence," said Mize. "The chemistry of this team is awesome and everyone is taking the right attitude into the beginning of the season."

The Broncos will be less four letterwinners from the 2009 season, including infielder Noelani Ho'opi'i who graduated in June, but will field four rookies along with 12 returners.

"Our freshmen have made an immediate impact on this team," said Mize. "They are coming in with the right frame of mind and have integrated well with the team."

Mize brought in two pitchers, an infielder, and an outfielder as part of the class of 2013, and she expects them to contribute immediately.

"Ali Nash and Riley McKay will help solidify our pitching staff," said Mize. The two will share circle duties with senior Kaitlyn Rauschnot and junior Jenna Fong. Having four girls, will allow us to throw an array of pitches at our opponents," said Mize. "Each girl has a slightly different look and it will keep our opponents on their toes."

The veteran, Rauschnot, has been the main occupant of the circle for the past two years, and Mize expects her to finish her career on a high note. Fong, a utility player who can also work the infield, will most likely work in relief and in the closing innings. The two freshmen are described by Mize as having a lot of potential, and that she expects both to have great presences in the circle and to make big things happen on the field this season.

Behind the plate, seniors Emily Batt and Amanda Edmonson will likely share time. Both also have the capability to play first base, taking over for the departed Ho'opi'i.

"Amanda and Emily have strong arms and are able to call great games and will work well with our pitchers." Adding to the depth at catcher, junior Stephanie Smith and sophomore Catherine Surane will also strap on the gear this season.

Mize believes her defense will be strong this spring and will start the year with veterans on first and third bases, while the middle of the field will be young. Batt or Edmonson will take first base duties with Megan Smith at the No. 5 spot. Freshman Morgana Dallas will be on second with Kristin Welsh at short stop. Surane will also see time in the infield.

In the grass, Santa Clara will have sophomore Briana Knight at right, senior Nicole Picard in center or right, and Jackie Nicora in center or left. Rookie Jamie Wallis will also see time in the outfield.

"Our outfield crew is very smart and I can trust them to make the right plays," said Mize. "I'm also excited about adding Jamie to the mix. She brings great speed and arm strength to our team."

On offense, Mize hopes the big bats that were prevalent in the fall will carry into the spring. "We had girls who were very consistent, and we also had quite a bit of power. Welsh, Batt, [Megan] Smith, and Nicora are our most consistent hitters, but our lineup has a lot of variety. Amanda, Briana, and Catherine can really hit the ball, and we'll look for singles from Nicole and Jamie, who also give us speed. Our base-running was smart this fall and I hope that will continue."

The Broncos last faced Fresno State in the 2008 season and was shutout by the Bulldogs in Fresno on March 8. Last year against the Spartans, the Broncos fell in both games of a doubleheader on March 31. The other scheduled match for February 14 was cancelled due to poor weather.

The Friday-evening contests against the defending WAC-Champion Bulldogs will take place at Bulldog Diamond. Tickets for adults start at $5. Due to construction of the brand-new Fresno State aquatic complex on campus, the grass lot (Gray Lot) just east of Bulldog Diamond that softball fans are used to parking in will be unavailable all season. For parking information please click here. Both games will have live stats available via Gametracker and live audio will be provided by gobulldogs.com.

Sunday's games against San Jose State will take place at SJSU Field, located on the corner of Alma and Senter Roads, just across from Municipal Stadium. Tickets for this doubleheader are also just $5 for adults. Live stats will be available by going on the Spartan web site at www.sjsuspartans.com and clicking "Live Stats" for each game. No audio or video is available.