After last weekendâ€™s difficult start to the season in New Mexico, the CSU softball team will again take to the road today as they begin the Sleep Inn Classic in Denton, Texas.
The Rams (1-4) will face Sam Houston State, Drake, Buffalo, Missouri State and North Texas during the three-day tournament. Head coach Mary Yori said improved pitching will be key if the Rams hope to improve on last weekendâ€™s results.
â€œWe need to get stronger in the (pitching) circle. We need to get more innings out of several players,â€ Yori said. â€œWe didnâ€™t play very well in all areas in the first game, but there was definitely improvement as the weekend went on.â€
None of the Ramsâ€™ four opponents this weekend enter the tournament with winning records, with just three wins between the five schools.
â€œWe gained a lot of confidence while in New Mexico,â€ said senior infielder Robyn Mask. â€œKeep working, and weâ€™ll get better in every aspect.â€
The Rams are coming off an up and down 2009 campaign that saw the team finish 26-25, with a 7-8 record in Mountain West Conference play. The team will now look to replace a void left by last yearâ€™s senior class of Christine Thomsen and Shannon Causgrove, who represented two of the top five hitters from a year ago.
But perhaps no absence will be felt more than Kim Klabough who acted as the Ramsâ€™ ace a year ago, recording a 2.85 ERA in 2009 to go along with an 8-2 record.
â€œIn terms of our pitching staff, we need to get good performances out of our freshman and sophomore pitchers,â€ Yori said. â€œI think our offense will be stronger than last year by far. Our one through six hitters are going to be solid.â€
Productivity from senior sluggers Ashley Munoz and Allison Majam can be expected in 2010, along with steady improvement from Jenna Krogh, who ranked eighth in the MWC a year ago in hits as a freshman.
On the mound, the Rams will look to sophomore Kelli Eubanks to take over the Ramsâ€™ No. 1 pitching role.
â€œWe may throw (Eubanks) four out of five games this weekend. She threw some really good innings last weekend,â€ the skipper said. â€œWeâ€™ll figure out how we can piece it together from there.â€
Eubanks has all the promise in the world after recording a solid 3.09 ERA as a freshman, making her the sixth-best pitcher in the conference statistically.
Annually, the Rams begin the season on long road trips thanks in large part to Coloradoâ€™s climate during early February. Despite starting the season away from their friendly confines, the Rams remain focused on getting out of the gates early in 2010.
â€œWeâ€™re used to (going on the road) every single year,â€ Mask said. â€œNobody really thinks of it as a bad thing. Itâ€™s just something we do at this program.â€
The Rams will have a chance to prove their ability to win on the road starting today as they kick off the Sleep Inn Classic with a double-header beginning at 11 a.m.
Softball Bear Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.