With a record of 9-1, the CSU softball team heads back to California this weekend to play in the University of San Diego Tournament fresh off a tournament victory a week ago.
“We hope to finish this third weekend on the road by playing with the same level of energy, mental toughness and focus, which will help us continue to strive for a consistent performance each game,” CSU coach Mary Yori said.
The Rams start play today at 3 p.m. against the University of California-Riverside, a team the Rams have defeated once this season already. UC-Riverside has a record of 2-7. The weekend continues with games against tournament host San Diego (2-6, 0-0) Friday night at 8, Loyola Marymount (8-3, 0-0) Saturday at 3 p.m., Nevada (7-3, 0-0) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Marshall (5-6, 0-0) Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Yori said that all CSU’s opponents will be challenging, but the games on Saturday, against Loyola Marymount and Nevada, she expects, will be especially tough.
“Loyola Marymount and Nevada are both good teams and seem to be playing well,” Yori said.
The LMU Lions are led at the plate by Chelsie Tysdal and in the circle by Tiffany Pagano. Tysdal has a .457 batting average, two doubles, five home runs and has driven in 14 runs. Pagano has a 1.48 ERA over 47.1 innings pitched with 58 strikeouts.
The Nevada Wolf Pack defeated No. 1 Arizona, 1-0, last weekend. They are led by Sam Bias. She has a .382 average, two doubles, one home run and four RBIs.
With just one loss and two victories in extra-innings, it has been a while since the Rams have started a season this well.
“This is the best team I can remember in the eight years I’ve been here,” Yori said.
In fact, the 9-1 start to the season is the best the softball team has seen in 20 seasons. The last time was in 1988. That year, the team finished 23-17.
The season’s only loss came at the hands of the UC-Davis Aggies, 5-3. The Rams got on the board first in that game, but fell behind and a fifth inning rally wasn’t enough.
CSU started the season in Palm Springs, Calif., at the Cathedral City Kickoff two weeks ago. In that first weekend, the team went 4-1. In the first game, the Rams beat then-No. 20 Oregon, 3-2, knocking them out of the USA Today/ National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division 1 top 25 in their first regular season poll.
Armed with a 3-1record, the team headed south to Las Cruces, N.M. At the Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces last weekend, the Rams won game after game until, when tournament play wrapped up Sunday they had won five games and the tournament Championship. They hit 12 home runs during the five games.
After finishing the tournament this weekend, the Rams will return to the diamond March 8 for three games against Utah State.
Sports writer Rachel Knox Stutsman can be reached at email@example.com.