SCU Softball Aims For Conference Wins in Sacramento Friday and Saturday

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
Santa Clara University's softball team looks to build on a pair of recent conference wins when they continue PCSC play at Sacramento State Friday and Saturday. Live audio will be provided for all four games.

THIS WEEK

Friday-Saturday, April 6-7 - Shea Stadium (Sacramento, Calif.)
FRI - Santa Clara @ Sacramento State 12 noon
FRI - Santa Clara @ Sacramento State 2 p.m.
SAT - Santa Clara @ Sacramento State 12 noon
SAT - Santa Clara @ Sacramento State 2 p.m.
Live Stats | Audio

SANTA CLARA
Fourth-year head coach Lisa Mize has retooled the Broncos (7-27; 2-2 PCSC) roster and the team is much improved from a year ago. SCU is playing its best softball of the season entering this weekend's four-game set in Sacramento. Senior OF Briana Knight (.269 BA) - the reigning PCSC Coastal Division Player of the Week - hit four homeruns in four games at LMU, driving in eight runs and totaling 17 bases. Junior OF Jamie Wallis (.361 BA) continues to enjoy an outstanding season and has been the Broncos most consistent offensive threat. Wallis hit three homers in Los Angeles during the weekend and sophomore OF Stephanie Fisher (.337 BA) went 5 for 10 with two doubles. Freshman RH Briana Rios (3-9; 5.26 ERA) and junior transfer SS Alyssa Jepsen (.311 BA) highlight a number of major contributors who are first-year players for Mize. Notching at least two wins this weekend would go a long way in setting the tone for the remainder of league play.

SACRAMENTO STATE
The Hornets (17-13; 0-3 PCSC) are coming off a disappointing rain-shortened three-game series at St. Mary's. Sac State played a triple-header against SMC Sunday and dropped all three games. Coupled with a 8-0 loss to No. 8 Cal last Wednesday, Sac State will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak when they host SCU Friday. Friday's doubleheader will serve as Cancer Awareness Day, and will feature the Hornets wearing pink uniforms to support and raise awareness for all cancer patients. Sac State has won 17 straight games against SCU dating back to the 2007 season. Last year the Hornets went 20-24 overall and 12-8 in PCSC play. 

THE OFFENSE
The Broncos generated 21 runs on 35 hits in five games last week, that's an average of seven hits per contest. Sophomore OF Stephanie Fisher hit .417 last week (5 for 12) and was one of four Broncos to total five hits or more. Junior classmates SS Alyssa Jepsen and OF Jamie Wallis had six hits apeice, with Wallis belting three homers and a double. As mentioned above, Santa Clara is getting significant contributions from a number of first-year players, including Jepsen, C Breezy Bernard (.272 BA) and INF Jordan Newell (.297 BA). Knight leads all players in hits (11) with RISP while 1B Kelly Scribner has 10. Both Scribner and Wallis have a team-best 14 hits with runners on base, while Knight is the team-leader in 2-out RBI (10).

PITCHING
The Broncos have a staff of four arms that all get extended time each weekend. Freshman RH Briana Rios (3-9; 5.26 ERA) started four of five games last week, including tossing her first-ever complete-game in a 6-2 over LMU in the series-opener. Sophomore RH Jessica Turner (2-6; 7.12 ERA) has extensive experience despite being just a sophomore. Turner started 23 of the team's 39 games last season and led the staff with 123 innings pitched. Junior transfer Carissa Theis (2-6; 6.34 ERA) has been a nice addition after attending New Mexico State the past two years. Theis, who is originally from San Jose and attended Leigh High School, leads the team in limiting opposing batters to a .297 average.

BRIANA KNIGHT NAMED PCSC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

In the wake of a four-homerun weekend, including two homers in the same inning, which allowed Santa Clara a series split over league-favorites LMU, Bronco senior outfielder Briana Knight (Fairfield, Calif./Angelo Rodriguez HS) was named the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Coastal Division Player of the Week on April 3. Knight - twice a PCSC All-Coastal Division First Team player - hit four homeruns during the weekend series in Los Angeles and powered SCU to a stunning seven-run comeback victory over LMU Sunday afternoon 9-7. Knight hit the go-ahead three-run drive, which capped off the rally, after belting a two-run shot earlier in the inning. Knight went 5 for 15 during five games last week (four with LMU and one against No. 13 Stanford - all on the road). She was 5 for 12 with eight RBI against LMU, helping SCU get off to a 2-2 start in league play.

SANTA CLARA GOES ON THE ROAD AND TOPS LEAGUE-FAVORITE LMU
Santa Clara shocked LMU in the opening weekend of PCSC play, March 31-April 1, beating the Lions twice in Los Angeles (6-2 in Game One and 9-7 in Game Four) to earn a split of the four-game series. The Lions are the coaches pick to win the conference and had entered the weekend with a 22-11 record. The results were especially rewarding for a Bronco team that had been extremely competitive throughout non-conference play (playing 12 games that had been decided by two runs or less) but was having trouble finishing games.

QUOTABLE
"Going into the first conference weekend we had talked a lot about who we want to be and what we wanted to be about," said SCU head coach Lisa Mize following last weekend's series with LMU. "We proved a lot to everyone, and maybe more importantly to ourselves. Coming out of this series the way we did, against a very, very good LMU team, I could not be more proud of this group. Do not take anything away from LMU, we beat a very good team."

INSTANT ACCESS

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.

ALYSSA JEPSEN GIVES FANS AN INSIDE LOOK AT SCU SOFTBALL  
It's always an adjustment for transfers to be successful in their first year at a new university. But Alyssa Jepsen, last season a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Junior College All-American shortstop and pitcher at the College of San Mateo, has immediately become Santa Clara's leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop. She recently took the time to give us an inside look at SCU Softball. Read more.

PCSC STANDINGS (April 3)
Coastal Division
St. Mary's (3-0) 14-16
San Diego (3-1) 16-12
Santa Clara (2-2) 7-27
LMU (2-2) 24-13
CSU Bakersfield (1-3) 8-26
Sacramento State (0-3) 17-13

Mountain Division
Portland State (3-1) 13-14
Seattle (3-1) 10-17
Northern Colorado (2-2) 17-17
Weber State (2-2) 13-20
Utah Valley (1-3) 20-11-1
Idaho State (1-3) 4-24

PCSC SHIFTS TO SEVEN TEAMS NEXT YEAR
Brigham Young University has accepted an invitation to join the Pacific Coast Softball Conference in 2013. The addition of BYU will give the PCSC seven teams for the 2013 campaign as the Big Sky Conference will begin sponsoring softball in 2013, meaning the PCSC's Big Sky core-members of Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State will leave the PCSC after this season. Seattle University will also be leaving the PCSC for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) following the 2012 campaign.

While the West Coast Conference (WCC) does not sponsor softball, the Cougars will be among five WCC schools in the soon-to-be seven-team PCSC in 2013. BYU will play the 2012 season in the WAC before joining fellow WCC members Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Saint Mary's in the PCSC .

PCSC alignment for 2013
Santa Clara, LMU, BYU, St. Mary's, San Diego, Cal State Bakersfield, Utah Valley

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