PCSC Play Begins for Santa Clara with Four Games in Bakersfield

PCSC Weekly Release (PDF)
2011 SCU Softball Virtual Media Guide

SANTA CLARA, Calif. –
The Santa Clara University softball team will play four games against Cal State Bakersfield this weekend, marking the opening weekend of Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) play for both teams. Doubleheaders are scheduled for 12 noon on both Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10 at Bakersfield's Roadrunner Softball Complex.

The Broncos (4-11) recently lost nine games due to heavy rain in Northern California. After a 4-6 start to the 2011 season, Santa Clara has lost five straight, playing just twice since March 12. There is no doubt that game cancellations and indoor practices have slowed some of the momentum previously established preparing and practicing during the non-conference season.

"We have tried to stay positive," said Santa Clara head coach Lisa Mize. "From a coaching perspective, there were some games I would have really liked us to have played. There was some even competition during that stretch, which would have allowed us to get some wins and gain confidence, while also seeing where we are and what we need to work on."

The weekend series with CSU Bakersfield should be competitive. The Roadrunners (10-18) bounced back from two Bronco victories early in the 2010 season – including a lopsided 11-3 SCU win last March - to sweep Santa Clara during conference play late in the year. CSUB is 6-3 against SCU in the last nine meetings dating back to 2009.

CSU Bakersfield is playing well, coming off a 3-1 series win over South Dakota April 2-3. Freshman infielder Amy Ricciardi and junior pitcher Sammy Rodriguez earned PCSC Coastal Division Player of the Week honors.

Santa Clara counters with All-PCSC outfielder Briana Knight (.368 BA), who leads the team in hits (14), total bases (28), slugging % (.737) and stolen bases (3). Freshman 1B Kelly Scribner (.281 BA) has been a key addition to the lineup, making immediate contributions in the heart of the Bronco batting order. Scribner is hitting .429 with runners on base and .444 with runners in scoring position.

The SCU offense has been streaky in terms of producing runs. During an early-season tournament in Colorado, the Broncos scored 37 runs in five games. However, in the same span of games during the current five-game slide, the offense has generated just four runs.

Jackie Nicora (.265 BA), who started in all 45 games as the leftfielder last year and hit .285, owns a team-best three-game hitting streak heading into the weekend. Nicora and senior classmates C Amanda Edmonson (.167 BA), C Stephanie Smith (.250 BA) and RHP Jenna Fong (3-3; 8.12 ERA) are preparing for their final stretch of conference games.

"The (team chemistry) is the best its been in the four years I have been here," said Edmonson. "We have six freshmen, so there are a lot of new faces and a different dynamic than it has been; it's been really good. But we are still trying to find a set lineup and establish what is best for our team."

Edmonson is handling the majority of the catching duties, starting in 12 of the 15 games. Fong has emerged as the No. 1 pitcher heading into the weekend, having shared starts with true freshman Jessica Turner (1-7; 10.92 ERA). Turner is part of a talented freshmen class that has seen Scribner, OF/DH Stephanie Fisher (.231 BA) and 2B Krista Jensen (.206 BA) start in every game.

"We are a young team, so we are definitely working on improving our defense and pitching," said Mize. "We want to develop consistency in a number of areas such as pitching, hitting, but I do feel like we are better (than last season)."

"In preseason you are able to run out some different lineups, be tested in pressure situations. We obviously played some tough competition in the preseason so that is always a plus going into conference. Again, we've lost two weekends to rain so that is a little bit of a setback for us, but at the same time I think we have seen what we have needed to work on and how we need to improve to do well in conference."

Santa Clara went through a stretch of winning 5 of 7 midway through the 2010 season, but struggled in PCSC play late in the year, something the team looks to improve on in 2011.

PCSC Coastal Division Standings
Loyola Marymount ... 0-0 ... 16-19 (W2)
San Diego ... 0-0 ... 10-13 (L2)
CSU Bakersfield ... 0-0 ... 10-18 (W2)
Sacramento State ... 0-0 ... 8-15 (L1)
Santa Clara ... 0-0 ... 4-11 (L5)
Saint Mary's ... 0-0 ... 4-13 (L7)

PCSC Mountain Division Standings
Portland State ... 0-0 ... 12-12 (L4)
Utah Valley ... 0-0 ... 7-17 (L3)
Idaho State ... 0-0 .... 6-19 (L1)
Weber State ... 0-0 ... 5-19 (L1)
Seattle ... 0-0 ... 4-22 (W1)
Northern Colorado ... 0-0 ... 3-26 (L4)

Saturday, April 9
Idaho State at NORTHERN COLORADO (DH) – 11:00 am
Santa Clara at CSU BAKERSFIELD (DH) – 12:00 pm
Saint Mary's at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (DH) – 12:00 pm
Utah Valley at PORTLAND STATE (DH) – 12:00 pm
San Diego at SACRAMENTO STATE (DH) – 12:00 pm
Weber State at SEATTLE (DH) – 12:00 pm

Sunday, April 10
Idaho State at NORTHERN COLORADO (DH) – 11:00 am
Santa Clara at CSU BAKERSFIELD (DH) – 12:00 pm
Saint Mary's at LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (DH) – 12:00 pm
Utah Valley at PORTLAND STATE (DH) – 12:00 pm
San Diego at SACRAMENTO STATE (DH) – 12:00 pm
Weber State at SEATTLE (DH) – 12:00 pm

Following a 20-game PCSC schedule, the league's divisional winners (Coastal and Mountain) will meet May 14-15 in the best-of-three PCSC Championship Series.