After transferring to CSU two years ago, senior Cayte Billman has stepped her game up this season for the Rams, leading the pitching staff with an ERA of 4.14.
Billman and her teammates will return to the diamond 1 p.m. Saturday looking to gain ground in the Mountain West when they play host to the New Mexico Lobos at Ram Field. The Rams will host the Lobos again Sunday at 1, concluding seven straight home games.
The Lobos (21-18, 4-6) come into Fort Collins having swept CSU (23-18, 3-7) in their first meeting of the 2008 season in Albuquerque on March 12 and 13.
The Rams were walloped in the March 12 game, 15-4, in five innings. The second game was much closer, a 4-1 loss.
Billman has been playing softball for 13 years “since the Tee Ball days,” she said.
The senior from Papillion, Neb., loves that softball is a team sport.
“It is so fun being around all my teammates.” Billman said. “It’s like having another family and another support group that is there to celebrate when there is success and there to pick you up through the challenging times.”
In addition to her team-leading ERA, Billman also has the most complete games, with 10. She has a 7-5 record in 24 appearances with 55 runs allowed on 81 hits. In 2007, Billman made 15 appearances in the circle for the Rams, posting a 5.01 ERA while allowing a team-low 53 hits in her 43.1 innings pitched with 33 strike outs.
In 2006, her last year with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Billman pitched in 19 games for the Mavericks. She finished her sophomore season with a record of 10-3, pitching 96 innings and posting an ERA under two, at 1.46.
Rams coach Mary Yori said that it took Billman about a year to make the transition to Division-I.
“She’s mentally and physically better this year,” Yori said. “She started the season strong, and had a bit of a road bump, but she pitched last weekend.”
Yori said the hitters are a lot tougher in Division-I.
“The hardest part for me is letting my teammates and coaches down which I feel sometimes after a loss,” Billman said. “That also comes with my position; I am a pitcher, so with that comes a lot of pressure.”
Although she is primarily a pitcher, Billman can also play first base. She played first base mainly with Nebraska-Omaha. In her freshman season, she appeared in 13 games at first base.
CSU will venture out on the road to face San Diego State next Friday and then travel to Las Vegas for a weekend series against UNLV.
Sport writer Rachel Knox-Stutsman can be reached at email@example.com.
Saturday : 1 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.
CSU LEADER BOARD
Average Cusick .404
RBI Cusick, Stem 33
H Cusick 55
HR Cusick 16
W Klabough 8
SV Klabough 2
ERA Billman 4.14