Apr 182007
 
Authors: Nick Hubel

The CSU softball team (23-20, 2-2 MWC) will make its annual sweep through Utah this week, stopping first in Provo for a doubleheader against Brigham Young on Thursday. The Rams will then head to Salt Lake City for two games against Utah on Friday and Saturday.

The road trip is the first of the conference season for the Rams, but it is far from the first time that they have been on the road this year. Of the 43 games the team has played this season, just eight have been at Ram Field.

Head Coach Mary Yori said her team is very comfortable traveling, even though they would rather be at home.

“Being on the road is just part of the game,” Yori said. “We were on the road a lot early, but between the snow-out (last week) and the extra week off, at least our players are pretty fresh.”

The first game of the road trip, against BYU, is critical for the Rams if they hope to move up in the conference standings and eventually clinch a bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament at the end of the year. The Cougars are sitting in second place in the Mountain West, with a 4-2 conference record (25-16 overall).

“We have pretty similar teams,” Yori said of the Cougars. “We are both going to be fighting for second place in our conference.”

BYU has the third best batting average and the best slugging percentage in the league at .291 and .498, respectively. Most dangerous for the Rams, however, is the deep Cougar pitching staff. BYU’s team ERA is nearly .60 points better than CSU’s at 2.83 and opponents are hitting just .239 off them this year.

“BYU has a solid team,” Yori said. “They probably have the best pitching in the conference, but we have seen better pitching this year. I am confident that we can hit them.”

After Thursday’s doubleheader with the Cougars, the Rams will travel to Salt Lake City to play two games with the Utah Utes (20-17-1, 1-5 MWC) on Friday and Saturday.

The Utes are currently in last place in the conference, but they have the conference’s top hitter in Diana Phillips and one of the Mountain West’s best pitchers in Meghan Dyer.

Phillips is leading the league with a .414 average so far this year and has hit five home runs and picked up 21 RBIs. Dyer has the second best ERA in the league at a miniscule 1.87 and leads the league in strikeouts with 234 (86 more than San Diego State’s Christina Ross, who is in second).

Coach Yori said that turning around after playing BYU and getting mentally ready for such a good pitcher will be key for her team’s success this weekend.

“We really have to focus on BYU and then come back and regroup for Utah,” Yori said.

Thursday’s doubleheader against BYU is set to start at 5 p.m. and will be available on the Mtn. Friday’s game one with Utah will start at 4 p.m. and Saturday’s game two is set for 1 p.m.

Staff writer Nick Hubel sports@collegian.com.

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