Feb 042004
 
Authors: Scott Bondy

The excitement of CSU softball swings into action today with a

doubleheader versus Cal Poly in Pomona, Calif. With a loaded roster

of experience and talent, the team looks to start where they left

off last season. After finishing 37-15 and making the NCAA

tournament for only the second time in school history, the Rams’

sights are higher this year.

Lead by their ace, senior Megan Masser, and other seniors such

as first baseman Ricki Walker the Rams are confident heading into

their seven-game stand in San Louis Obispo, Calif. After facing Cal

Poly, CSU will begin the Mustang Round-up, with opponents

Sacramento State, University of Nevada-Reno, Cal Poly, UC Santa

Barbara and the University of San Diego.

The Mountain West Conference preseason coaches’ poll has CSU

picked to finish second in the conference, but head coach Mary Yori

said that might be exactly the place for them.

“It is a good place to be, but rankings are just something they

have to do. It gives us room to step up,” Yori said.

Yori was named MWC Coach of the Year in 2003 for her guidance.

She will be looking for certain players to step up if the team is

destined to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

Freshmen third baseman Melissa Giesler and left fielder Britney

Huerta will be asked to make immediate contributions with their

play. Besides Huerta and Giesler, the diamond will be full of

returning starters from last season, which can only mean good

things.

“We are working hard and are ready to play,” Walker said. “We’re

more aware of what we’re capable of this year.”

Last year’s MWC Co-Player of the Year junior Steph Roberts,

along with Walker, led the team in hitting. “Hitting and pitching

are definitely our team’s main strengths this year,” Walker

said.

She batted .377 last year and finished with nine home runs, 46

RBIs and 105 total bases. All team highs.

Though a strength, the Rams’ pitching will need to improve from

last year.

Masser, who tallied 154 strikeouts last year, finished with a

record of 20-7.

She will be relied on heavily again this year but needs some

help.

“Another pitcher besides Megan will need to step up, possibly

Genevieve Kelly or JayCee Wood,” Yori said. Those two players seem

ready for a breakout year. Wood finished 2003 with a 4-0 record and

a 1.63 ERA while Kelly went 9-4 and tallied a 3.34 ERA.

After beginning the season with a few tournaments, the Rams will

return home to play Utah State and Southern Utah March 6 to 8.

Conference play begins April 3 against New Mexico at Rams

field.

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