SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University softball team will play five games at the Colorado State University Classic in Fort Collins this weekend. The Broncos will open tournament play against Connecticut's Sacred Heart University Friday at 11:15 a.m. (MT).
Colorado State University Classic Schedule*
Friday, March 4
9 a.m. Northern Illinois vs. Sacred Heart
11:15 a.m. Sacred Heart vs. Santa Clara
1:30 p.m. Northern Illinois vs. Colorado State
3:45 p.m. Santa Clara vs. Colorado State
Saturday, March 5
9 a.m. Santa Clara vs. Sacred Heart
11:15 a.m. Sacred Heart vs. Colorado State
1:30 p.m. Santa Clara vs. Northern Illinois
3:45 p.m. Northern Illinois vs. Colorado State
Sunday, March 6
10 a.m. Sacred Heart vs. Northern Illinois
12:15 p.m. Santa Clara vs. Colorado State
*All times listed are local game times in Colorado (Mountain Time)
Santa Clara (0-4) nearly upset No. 13 Oregon last time out, taking the Ducks into the bottom of the sixth with the game tied, before UO produced the deciding run. Look for the Broncos to break out of an early season hitting spell that has seen the team bat just .169 collectively.
"We recognize that (the offense) is an area that needs improvement," said sixth-year Santa Clara Head Coach Lisa Mize. "We've spent some extra time on it this week. At the same time our batters need to have a more aggressive approach at the plate. We've gotten some great at-bats but we need to have that timely hitting happen for us."
Freshman pitcher Jessica Turner was terrific against No. 13 Oregon on Sunday, throwing five scoreless innings before allowing a lone run in the sixth. Setting aside a rough outing against Pacific, Turner has allowed just four runs in 14-plus innings (2.51 ERA) in starts against UO and San Jose State.
"Jessica is going to build on those great starts she has had," said Mize, about the performance of her young ace. "We are definitely going to need consistency in the circle. If they can give us an opportunity to win or keep us in the game, our hitters will come through."
The Broncos offense has generated six doubles in four games and freshman Stephanie Fisher (.273 BA) is leading all SCU players with three hits. Senior Amanda Edmonson has knocked in a run and so has Scribner.
"We playing around with the lineup, trying to find something that will work for us consistently," said Mize. "We are taking a good look at our freshmen, seeing what they can do. Rochelle Rivera adds another element for us, she is quick, lefty slapper. We like what we see from our freshman class. We need our veterans to knock in some runs and get the key hits in times that we need them."
Sacred Heart (0-0) will be making the trip west from Connecticut to play its 2011 season-opening games. The Pioneers are picked to finish fifth in the 11-team Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason coaches poll. Sacred Heart was 23-26 overall in 2010 and 10-8 against the NEC. The Pioneers won the NEC title in 2009.
Tournament host Colorado State (3-11) played in Stanford's Nike Invitational last weekend, beating UC Davis 11-6 to win one of five games it played in Palo Alto. The Rams have yet to play a home game this season. In 14 games (all on the road), the Rams have hit 11 homers and 15 doubles. CSU was 29-20 last season and finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) with a 7-8 league record.
Northern Illinois (3-7) bounced back from an 0-5 start to win 3 of 5 at the Texas Tech Invitational last weekend in Lubbock - a pair of wins against Wichita State and one against St. John's. NIU ace Morgan Bittner (2-3; 4.36 ERA) has fanned 25 in 33 innings. The Huskies were 25-34 last season with a 10-10 record in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
2011 Colorado State University Classic
Dates: Friday through Sunday, Mar., 4-6, 2011
Host: Colorado State University
Stadium: Ram Field (500), Fort Collins, Colo.
Field (5 teams): Colorado State University, Sacred Heart University, Santa Clara University and Northern Illinois University
Tournament Results/Updates: www.CSURams.com
Tickets/More Information: 970-491-3350