SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University softball team opens its 2011 season this weekend, playing a double-header against local rival San Jose State University at SJSU Field on Sunday, February 20. First pitch is scheduled for 12 noon. Follow the game live by clicking here.
The double-header initiates a 45-game regular season schedule, culminating May 14-15 when the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) divisional winners (Coastal and Mountain) meet in the best-of-three league championship series.
Santa Clara (0-0) went through a stretch of winning 5 of 7 midway through the 2010 season, but struggled in PCSC play down the stretch, something the team looks to improve on in 2011.
San Jose State (2-4) played six games last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Led by fifth-year head coach Peter Turner, the Spartans were 34-25 in 2010, just the seventh time in school history that an SJSU team recorded 30 or more wins in a season. The 34 wins tied for the third highest total in school history.
Broncos Head Coach Lisa Mize welcomes back four of the team's top five hitters from a year ago, including 2B Kristin Welsh (.322 BA), OF Jackie Nicora (.285 BA) and OF Briana Knight (.270 BA). Knight, a junior from Fairfield, Calif., led the team with seven homeruns, 26 RBI, 40 hits, 67 total bases and a .453 slugging percentage last season.
Mize also expects as many as five freshmen to make major contributions this season, including rookie pitchers Jessica Turner (Tulsa, Okla./Broken Arrow HS) and Kelly Scribner (Loveland, Colo./Mountain View HS).
"No I'm not nervous," said Turner about the possibility of making her collegiate debut Sunday at SJSU. "I've been playing softball for so long now; I will try to approach it just like any other game."
Mize and her coaching staff made defense a priority during preseason training. Team chemistry and playing together as a unit were also stressed over the last month leading up to Sunday's opener.
"The team chemistry is great this season," said Mize. "I think that is going to push us forward in close ball games, believing in not just themselves but each other. That is a real strong point for this group."
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