January 14, 2012

Bronco Softball Begins Spring Practice Today, Season-Opener is Feb. 9

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University Bronco softball officially opened spring practices today, Saturday, Jan. 14. Former Olympian and fourth-year head coach Lisa Mize has brought in an outstanding class of recruits for the new season, which begins Thursday, Feb. 9 at UTEP.

"There is a lot of new energy surrounding our program right now," said Mize. "We have 10 new student-athletes on the roster. Two transfers that will help us right away, Carissa Theis, a pitcher who went to Leigh High School in San Jose and helped New Mexico State win a WAC title and junior college Player of the Year, infielder Alyssa Jepsen."

Bronco fans should also enjoy watching freshman catcher Breezy Bernard play, who Mize thinks will be an immediate starter behind the plate, not to mention two-way freshman standout and Peruvian National Team member Jaymi Bautista-Geiger – the most accomplished prep player brought in by Mize since she took over the program prior to the 2009 campaign.

"It's a great time for this program," said Mize. "The stadium announcement was fantastic news and that is really uplifting, not only for the young players, but obviously for the alumni and past players that have gone through this program. It's something that's well deserved for the softball program here."

In the meantime, Santa Clara will continue to play its Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) home games at West Valley College in Saratoga. Back-to-back weekend homestands in late April will feature four games apiece with league rivals St. Mary's (Apr. 21-22) and Cal State Bakersfield (Apr. 28-29).

But the first chance to catch the 2012 Broncos up close and personal will be on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. when they open their home schedule under the lights of PAL Stadium in San Jose against UC Davis. Santa Clara will also be hosting James Madison University on Wednesday, March 7 at PAL Stadium before playing three home games at the SCU Invitational the weekend of March 10-11 at San Jose State's Spartan Softball Stadium.

"The number one thing this group needs is confidence, in their play and in themselves," said Mize, about the season ahead. "That's been difficult for us the past few seasons. When you lose a couple games and things don't go your way, it's easy to get into that rut. It's hard to get out of that and turn it around."

Proven talents such as All-PCSC outfielder Briana Knight and senior classmate Kristin Welsh should provide this young team with offensive production and maybe more importantly, some leadership on 'Opening Day' February 9 at UTEP.

Knight may be the best outfielder in the entire conference. She hit .413 as a junior last year, with eight homeruns, an on-base percentage of .505 and slugged .853. , Those numbers were team-bests last season. She also played error-free defense.

If the fresh arms of Theis, Bautista-Geiger and lefty Briana Rios can come in and give Santa Clara quality innings, there is little doubt the Broncos will improve on their 18 percent winning percentage from 2011.

"If this group recognizes they have the talent – which they do, exude some confidence out there and be consistent, things will go our way," says Mize. "We should have a good season. Again, that will depend on consistency and confidence and how well they deal with pressure situations and adverse situations."