February 6, 2012

SCU Softball 'Opening Day' is Thursday, Feb. 9 in El Paso

Interactive Virtual Guide

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – 'Opening Day' for Santa Clara University's softball team is this Thursday, Feb. 9 in El Paso, Texas. The Broncos are preparing to face UTEP at 2 p.m. (PT) at the Miners' Helen of Troy Field. Santa Clara will then travel to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for five weekend games at the Hotel Encanto Invitational hosted by New Mexico State.

THIS WEEK' SCHEDULE:
Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012

@ UTEP - 2 p.m. (PT)
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 (Hotel Encanto Invitational; Las Cruces, NM)
vs. Saint Mary's  – 8 a.m. (PT)
vs. Illinois-Chicago - 12:30 p.m. (PT)
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 (Hotel Encanto Invitational; Las Cruces, NM)
vs. Indiana - 2:30 p.m. (PT)
@ New Mexico State – 4:30 p.m. (PT)
Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 (Hotel Encanto Invitational; Las Cruces, NM)
vs. UTEP - 11 a.m. (PT)

LIVE COVERAGE:
UTEP will be streaming a live video feed of Thursday's game on (UTEPAthletics.com). Access live stats for all five Santa Clara games at the Hotel Encanto Invitational via (NMStateSports.com.). Links to both of those streams can also be found on (SantaClaraBroncos.com) by clicking here.

"As a team we have been discussing how we will define success this season, and for each game it may be different," said Santa Clara sophomore pitcher Jessica Turner (pictured). "Ultimately we want to have a winning record, of course. However, overall we want to be competitive in every game we play, showing our abilities to every one of our opponents."

Turner threw 123 innings last season as a true freshman, starting 23 of the team's 39 games. She was one of just two available pitchers on the Broncos roster. However, Santa Clara has brought in a wealth of talent for 2012, adding three new pitchers and 10 new players overall, which should allow Turner additional rest and give the team much needed depth at just about every position on the field.

"I am most impressed with two of our freshmen, Breezy Bernard and Amity Tello," said Turner, when asked who has been difficult to pitch against during the team's preseason training. "Those two are incredible power-hitters. At times they seem to be two steps ahead of you, which also helps me prepare for games. They both cover the entire plate very well. The teams we play this year need to watch out for the both of them. They are definite game changers, and are truly fun to watch."

Santa Clara is led offensively by all-conference senior outfielder Briana Knight (.413 BA), who had 20 RBI, 8 homers and scored 22 times in 29 games last season. It's clear that Knight will hit in the middle of the Broncos batting order, but it should be interesting to see the entire Opening Day lineup Thursday.

2011 NFCA Junior College All-American Alyssa Jepsen hit .432 and slugged .435 playing shortstop at the College of San Mateo last season. Jepsen and Peruvian National Team member, true freshman Jaymi Bautista-Geiger, are two other new players to keep an eye on this weekend.

"There is a lot of new energy surrounding our program right now," said fourth-year SCU head coach Lisa Mize in a recent interview.

Mize will have the option of pitching Turner, Bautista-Geiger, New Mexico State transfer Carissa Theis or freshman lefty Briana Rios. Additionally, Mize now has the depth in the field to tailor her lineup in a way that best suits the players she has for each position, something that was prohibited last season due to injuries.

"As a team the biggest adjustment this fall was probably getting to know each other on and off the field," said Turner about the offseason prep. "With so many new people, it takes time to learn how everyone plays and reacts in certain situations on the field. The off-the-field relationships with each other are definitely the easier of the two. A lot of softball is about knowing your teammates and how they play."

It will be exciting to see how the team plays this weekend. Watch Thursday's game online and follow the rest of the weekend action via live stats. For the very latest on Santa Clara softball, follow the team's official Twitter page (@SCUSoftball) and the Bronco softball Facebook page for updates and information throughout the year.