After a home-opening tournament championship in last weekendâ€™s Colorado State Classic, the CSU softball team will once again take its act on the road today, as part of a 12-game, two-week road trip.
The Rams (12-7) are playing their best softball of the season, winners of eleven of their past fourteen. Still, head coach Mary Yori remains hesitant to make any wide-ranging predictions moving forward.
â€œI think these next two weeks will tell a lot about this team as we get ready for conference play,â€ Yori said. â€œItâ€™s very difficult to maintain the consistency every single game on a stretch like this, thatâ€™s one thing we are really going to strive for.â€
The Rams will begin the trip in Fresno, Calif., to participate in the 2010 Bayer CropScience Classic, facing Cal State Northridge, Mississippi State, Fresno State, East Tennessee State and Georgetown during the four-day tournament.
â€œThe competition is going to be very good, every game is going to be a challenge for us,â€ Yori said. â€œWe need to put it all together and play every game like itâ€™s a new game.â€
The Rams recent success has been largely a product of their offensive output generated by the top of the lineup hitters Caitlan Stem and Jenna Krogh, who have hit a combined .344 this season. The ability of Stem and Krogh to get on base creates plenty of opportunities for the middle of the lineup hitters like Christine Thomsen, Rebecca Penland and Allison Majam to drive in runs.
â€œWe feel like our offense is strengthening, we are getting more confidence in that area,â€ Yori said. â€œWe will probably stay with the same plan (during the road trip).â€
Though consistent offensive production is welcomed, the Rams find themselves in more desperate need of pitching at the moment. If last weekend was any indication, they might have found some much needed help.
Kelsey Jo Oâ€™Brien, a freshman reigning from Littleton, threw a complete game shutout against South Dakota State on Sunday. The dominant win represented a huge milestone in Oâ€™Brienâ€™s recovery from an ACL tear suffered during the Rams first practice last semester. Sunday was her first complete game since the injury.
â€œFor her to come back after four months, we werenâ€™t really sure what she could give to the team,â€ Yori said. â€œSheâ€™s been really strong mentally to be able to get herself back and ready to play and compete.â€
Oâ€™Brienâ€™s ACL recovery is a massive individual accomplishment and may represent a much needed supplement to sophomore Kelli Eubanks, who boasts an 8-4 record, and has been the sole workhorse of the Rams staff thus far.
The Rams will be in action for nine out of the next ten days, as they continue to gear up for Mountain West Conference play, which begins April 9.
Softball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org