February 17, 2012

Offense Has Been an Early-Season Spark for SCU Softball

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After playing six games in four days last weekend, the Santa Clara University softball team returns to the field Saturday and Sunday to compete at the Fresno State Weekend Series. The Broncos will play single games against Cal State Fullerton and Fresno State on both days.

Santa Clara (1-5) vs.
CS Fullerton (2-3) and Fresno State (3-2)
Dates: Feb. 18-19, 2012 - Santa Clara's Schedule/Results
Site: Bulldog Diamond (3,288); Fresno, Calif.
Radio: ESPN2 790 AM (v. Fresno State)
TV: None
Live Stats: Gametracker Links
Video Streaming: GoBulldogs.com/AllAccess 

Santa Clara (1-5; 0-0 PCSC) wrapped up the New Mexico State Hotel Encanto Invitational with a record of 1-4 and went 1-5 on the weekend swing to the Southwest, but challenged opponents throughout the road trip, including picking up a rivalry win over Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) foe St. Mary's.

"Overall I was pleased with the weekend," said Santa Clara head coach Lisa Mize, a former Olympian pitcher. "Our results were not what I wanted but as a coaching staff and team we were able to see the areas that we need to improve on. I see a lot of potential with this team. The team just needs to realize that they have to put it all together and turn that potential into results and consistent play."

Junior College All-America transfer SS Alyssa Jepsen (.500 BA) is providing instant production from the top of the lineup. The College of San Mateo product went 5 for 10, scored two runs and hit a solo homer in four games last week.

The addition of a proven talent like Jepsen is a huge lift to a Bronco lineup that already has one of the PCSC's top hitters, OF Briana Knight (.316 BA), who had three extra base hits and drove in six runs in as many games to open the season last week.

"Again, I think the offensive potential is there; the lineup has an opportunity to be very powerful," says Mize. "We need to improve on capitalizing on our opportunities, scoring with runners on base and being a little more aggressive at the plate as a team."

Sophomore OF Stephanie Fisher (.471 BA) and junior OF Jamie Wallis (.429 BA) are also off to good starts. Both are getting on base and scoring runs. As a team, the Broncos totaled 39 hits (6.5 per game) on the season-opening trip.

Fresno State (3-2; 0-0 WAC) went 35-19 last season and its pitching staff is off to a strong start this year. Bulldog arms are holding opposing batters to a .172 average and have posted 34 strikeouts in five games. FSU has won 44 of 45 games all-time against SCU.

Cal State Fullerton (2-3; 0-0 Big West) is coming off a 23-24 season a year ago. They have won eight Big West Championships, the most recent title coming in 2006. The Titans will play twice against CSU Bakersfield Friday, prior to Saturday morning's matchup with Santa Clara.  

The Broncos have used four different starting pitchers, led by sophomore Jessica Turner (0-2; 8.76 ERA), who started three of the six games last week. New Mexico State junior transfer Carissa Theis (1-1; 9.45 ERA) picked up the win against St. Mary's and freshman lefty Briana Rios (0-1; 7.94 ERA) has pitched well in relief.

"Our pitchers need to keep us in the ball game, get ahead in the counts and minimize the walks," said Mize, looking ahead to the weekend games. "Offensively we need to attack early and stay aggressive start to finish. From a mental game stand point we need to be confident and tough for 7 innings."

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.