Feb 212010
 
Authors: Joel Hafnor

The CSU softball team got back on track this weekend in Denton, Tex., winning three out of four games in the 2010 Sleep Inn Classic.

The Rams (4-5) opened the tournament on Friday with a pair of come-from-behind victories over both Sam Houston State and Missouri State. The Rams surrendered just five runs in Friday’s games after giving up a total of 33 a week ago.

“We got some really good performances from the pitching circle from Kelli Eubanks and Kelsey O’Brien,” said head coach Mary Yori. “Our players fought and gave a very good effort to get us those wins.”

On Saturday, the Rams short winning streak was snapped at the hands of the Drake Bulldogs, who held CSU to just five hits en route to an 8-1 victory.

“We didn’t put it together in the pitching circle against Drake,” Yori said. “We gave up some big hits, and offensively we didn’t hit the ball very well.”

The resilient Rams would rebound quickly, as they again came from behind in their final game of the tournament, defeating host school North Texas, 8-7. The final win of the weekend was the Rams’ third one-run victory of the tournament, proving the Rams have no trouble playing in pressure-packed situations.

“There’s a lot of ball games that are won or lost by one run,” Yori said. “When you can be on the winning side of those, you gain a lot of confidence.”

Rebecca Penlan, who went six-for-12 with five runs batted in during the two-day tournament, led the Rams’ offense over the weekend. Penland, who is listed on the team’s official roster as a pitcher, is instead making her name as a slugger and has opened up the 2010 campaign on an impressive nine-game hitting streak.

The Rams will need to continue their solid play as they head to California this coming weekend to take on some of the nation’s best in the Cathedral City Classic. The tournament features national powerhouses UCLA and Cal-Berkeley, both of whom are ranked in the top-15 nationally.

“This weekend is going to be a big challenge for us, but we are excited about that,” the CSU head coach said. “We are going to see what we are made out of.”

Thus far, the team has relied heavily on major innings from sophomore pitcher Kelli Eubanks along with freshman Kelsey O’Brien. The Rams will need a complete effort from their entire pitching staff in order to hold their own against some of the best teams in the country, Yori said.

“Because we are going to be facing some better hitting teams, all of our pitchers are going to get some innings,” she said. “We need to get some production out of our third and fourth pitchers.”

After this weekend, the Rams will gear up for their anticipated home opener scheduled for next March 5 against North Dakota State.

Softball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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