SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University softball team will wrap up its 2011 season this week, playing at No. 13 Stanford on Tuesday night, then matching up with Pacific Coast Softball Conference rival St. Mary's over the weekend.
Santa Clara (6-28; 2-12 PCSC) began the conference season 2-2 after a split on the road at Cal State Bakersfield April 9-10. Since then the Broncos have not won a PCSC game, most recently dropping four-straight closely contested battles with Sacramento State last weekend.
Junior all-conference outfielder Briana Knight (.433 BA) returned from injury to go .375 (3 for 8) with a homerun against Sac State. SS Kristin Welsh (.216 BA) also made a return from injury, boosting the Broncos defense in the middle-infield. With arguably SCU's two best players in Knight and Welsh missing significant time, their return has the Broncos optimistic about finishing the season strong this weekend at SMC.
Both No. 13 Stanford (35-11; 8-7 Pac-10) and St. Mary's (11-23; 7-9 PCSC) are closing out their 2011 home schedules against SCU.
St. Mary's was 30-23 last season and won the PCSC Coastal Division with a 14-4 conference record. Rebounding from a slow start, SMC had a recent streak of winning 6 of 7 before division-leading USD took the last three games of that four-game series in San Diego.
The Gaels have one of the PCSC's best pitchers, junior Britany Linton, who owns a 2.61 ERA through 24 appearances and 18 starts. The Gaels' offense is led by junior OF Michelle Mounts (.345 BA), who has an on-base percentage of .477, which ranks second in the league.
The Broncos will need to improve on its run-scoring average of 1.7 over the past 16 games. During PCSC play, junior 3B/C Catherine Surane is hitting .318 and true-freshman OF Stephanie Fisher is batting .304. OF/INF Jamie Wallis is the team-leader in extra-base hits during conference play with four doubles and two homers.
The SCU pitching combination of senior Jenna Fong and Jessica Turner have combined to strike out 34 batters in 102 innings in PCSC games. Turner was terrific in the late innings of Sunday's series finale with Sac State, working out of a jam in the sixth and retiring the side in order in the seventh to push the game into extra innings.
Santa Clara celebrated the college careers of Fong and senior classmates C Amanda Edmonson, OF Jackie Nicora and C Stephanie Smith prior to Sunday's doubleheader with Sac State.
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