Mountain West Conference opponents beware. The CSU women’s softball team is young, hungry and looking to turn some heads.
In its conference opener Saturday, the team split its day-night double header against the Lobos of New Mexico in Albuquerque, winning game one 11-2, while losing a 2-1 nail biter in game two.
The positive start has the team talking about making a strong appearance in the MWC this season.
“Our odds are as good as anybody else in the conference,” senior third baseman Amanda Kocis said. “The whole conference has very similar talent levels. No one team is really breathtaking.”
The Rams put that confidence on display in game one as they shelled New Mexico pitchers Hayley Punter and Amy Dumas for 11 runs on 15 hits.
Freshman Steph Roberts led the offensive attack going 4-for-5 while sophomore Ricki Walker and junior Katie Koch had four hits and five RBIs combined.
Freshman pitcher Melanie Mahoney /_” who was named MWC pitcher of the week last week after throwing a complete-game shutout against the Oregon Ducks /_” struggled in the first inning, giving up a RBI-double to New Mexico’s Brook Chafee.
After that minor blip, Mahoney settled down and finished off the Lobos allowing only four hits the rest of the way.
With the victory Mahoney, who has given up one earned run in her past two starts, raised her record to 8-5, while lowering her ERA to a team-best 1.75.
However, the tide turned in game two, as the Rams were unable to finish off a potential game-tying rally.
With the Lobos leading 2-0 in the top of the seventh, freshman Maren Christensen hit a solo homerun to cut the lead in half.
The Rams then managed to get two more runners on base, until hitting into the final out to end the game.
By splitting the doubleheader against New Mexico, the Rams raised their record to 14-17 with a 1-1 conference record.
However, conference play does not get any easier for the Rams as they travel to Utah this weekend to play BYU and defending MWC champion Utah.
As for making a statement in conference play this season, Coach Mary Yori said she is not looking ahead.
“We want to focus on one game at a time,” she said. “The pitching staff needs buckle down and give us better performances on a consistent basis.”
Kocis added that if the Rams continue to play their short game while maintaining a high level of intensity, they “will make a statement this season.” n