May 052005
Authors: Paul Baker

The CSU softball team hits the road for the final weekend of the season to take on UNLV and San Diego State. The Rams will then stay out in California for the Mountain West Conference Tournament, which starts Thursday.

The Rams are coming off a weekend of disappointment, as both series with Utah and BYU were canceled due to weather. The Rams sit in third place in the conference at 8-4 and could potentially pull ahead of second-place UNLV this weekend with two head-to-head games against the Rebels today.

UNLV, who is at 13-3 in the conference, have won eight of its last nine games, with the only lost coming to conference leader Brigham Young. The Rebels are led by freshman designated hitter Caitlyn Paus, who through this season is hitting .315 from the plate with 36 RBIs and six home runs.

The last time the two teams met was earlier this season in Fort Collins, with the Rebels coming out on top in both games, 3-2 in eight innings and 10-0.

"It was too bad that we couldn't play last weekend," said sophomore pitcher Jessica Strickland. "But we need to keep it up and take two games from UNLV on Friday."

The Rams will then travel to San Diego to round out conference play on Monday. The Aztecs are at the bottom of the conference this year with a 1-15 conference record, which is unusual for them at this point in the season.

"They (San Diego State) are usually at the top of our conference," said junior Melanie Laffoon. "They'll still be tough and we shouldn't take them lightly."

It will be senior day for the Aztecs when they host the Rams on Monday. The games will be nationally televised by College Sports Television, the first time a MWC game will be televised around the nation.

The Aztecs hold a slim edge over the Rams in the overall series 28-25, but the Rams took both games from them earlier this year in Fort Collins.

The Rams continue to have double-threat pitching going for them with Strickland and Genevieve Kelly. So far this season Strickland has posted an 11-6 record with a 1.89 ERA while striking out 79 batters. Kelly has racked up 14 wins and eight losses, with a 2.52 ERA and 105 strikeouts.

The Rams will look to Strickland and Kelly to lead them through the conference tournament and possible get a regional bid.

The Rams will take the field against UNLV today at 5 p.m. and then face San Diego at 1 p.m. on Monday.

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