The CSU softball team is in California for the third straight week for the San Diego Classic I today, after winning the University of Sand Diego Invitational Tournament last weekend.
The Rams (9-6) will play five games in three days for the second week in a row, but the team doesn’t believe it will affect their play, which, as of late, has been nothing short of impressive.
Last week, five Rams batted .400 or better, with sophomore Caitlan Stem batting a team-high .474. The Rams also got strong pitching performances out of freshmen Dani Chaplin and Kellie Eubanks; both are 3-1 this season.
“I just feel like they will continue (to progress),” head coach Mary Yori said. “I think they’ll get better I think they’ve gained more confidence. They have a lot of upside.”
The structure of the Rams squad is coming into focus, and it looks like they’ll have four pitchers willing and able to start — a big advantage when playing five games in three days. According to Yori, the pitching is so deep she never knows who to start.
The Rams are coming into a weekend of games with a winning record for the first time this season. And the team is primed to continue its success.
“I expect us to do very well this weekend,” said outfielder and Denver native Ivory Allen. “I feel like our team chemistry is really clicking now. I think we could have a lot of upsets.”
The Ram’s first game of the weekend is against familiar opponent San Diego (1-9). The Rams are 3-0 against the Toreros this season, winning the first two matchups by two runs each, and the third by eight.
“It’s hard to beat anybody four times,” Yori said. “They’re a quality team, so we just need to put together a good game. We feel that they’re a team we can go 4-0 against, but we can’t look past them or they will get us.”
After the Rams get through with San Diego, they will face their first real test of the season, as they will battle Pac-10 powerhouse UCLA (13-2) in a night game beginning at 8 p.m.
UCLA is led by sophomore Katie Schroeder, with 14 RBI’s in 15 games. The Bruins are currently ranked No. 4 in the country, but ranks don’t intimidate the confident Ram team.
“We like to take the philosophy that every team is the same,” said junior Allison Majam. “We want to go in with the same mentality for every game.”
In their first game on Saturday, the Rams will be clashing with Santa Clara (1-5). The Rams have a slight advantage, as their overall record against the Broncos is 4-2.
Shortly after that game, CSU will be taking on the Ducks of Oregon (6-9). The Ducks have had a less than noteworthy season so far. Still, the Rams are happy to get another chance at a Pac-10 team.
“I know our players are very excited to face them,” Yori said. “We’ll be ready to play, ready to go. We just have to take it one step at a time, one game at a time.”
The Rams will be playing their final game against the only another opponent, besides UCLA, with a winning record, UC Davis. The Aggies are 7-3 and own the overall series with the Rams, winning all three matchups.
The Rams are hoping this weekend’s trip will accomplish several things for the team, including getting younger players experienced and more comfortable. They also want to get some wins and put the program on the map by beating a nationally ranked team.
The Ram’s goals are not that enormous, as Yori said, “You start every game at 0-0, so it’s anybody’s game.”
Softball beat reporter Keith Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.