Feb 262006

Winning 11 of their last 12 games, CSU's softball team is off to the best start in school history at 12-4. This weekend, the Rams won all five of their games in San Diego, allowing their five opponents to score only one run all tournament.

"We played solid softball this weekend in all phases of the game," said head coach Mari Yori. "We couldn't have had a better tournament."

On Thursday, the Rams started out the Aztec Invitational by dominating Western Kentucky 7-0 before blanking Long Beach State 8-0. The Rams' offensive success did not carry over to Friday, but good pitching led CSU past Kentucky 1-0 and Loyola Marymount 2-0.

Junior pitcher Jessica Strickland once again had a great tournament. She recorded two shutout victories against Western Kentucky and Loyola Marymount. Strickland was also a force from behind the plate with eight hits and five RBIs in just 17 at bats in San Diego.

Also with two shutout victories was freshmen pitcher Kim Klabough. Now 6-0 on the season, Klabough has pitched five complete games, including two shutouts against Long Beach State and Kentucky on Thursday and Friday.

Despite Klabough's age, Yori is not surprised with the young pitcher's success.

"We knew she could play," Yori said. "She was one of the highest recruited pitchers out of Arizona. She doesn't walk batters often, and she plays the field too."

Although there have been some individual standouts on the squad, Yori said a number of players are responsible for the team's success.

"You can't win this many games without a lot of players contributing," she said.

Among the contributors were sophomore infielder Lauren Cusick. Against Long Beach State, Cusick hit a home run in the top of the third that got the Rams going offensively. In the 2-0 win over Loyola Marymount, she had an RBI and scored the only other run of the game. Another valuable contributor is junior outfielder Brittany Huerta. She provided the Rams' only offense with a solo home run in the 1-0 victory over Kentucky.

With the Rams currently at 12-4, it's easy to forget that just a couple weeks ago the team was 1-3 heading into the last day of their season opening tournament. During that initial struggle, Yori never let her team get down on themselves.

"We just stayed positive after that first week," she said. "We knew we could win."

Staying positive worked out for the Rams, as they soon went on a six-game winning streak. Yori points to last week's win over number 18 ranked University of Oregon as a defining moment for the team.

"We were playing great against Oregon, when I think everyone in the dugout realized how good of a team we are," she said.

After three straight weekends on the road, the Rams open their home schedule with a double-header Saturday against Utah State.

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