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 Fridayâ€™s games after giving up a total of 33 a week ago.
â€œWe got some really good performances from the pitching circle from Kelli Eubanks and Kelsey Oâ€™Brien,â€ said head coach Mary Yori. â€œOur players fought and gave a very good effort to get us those wins.â€
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.
â€œWe didnâ€™t put it together in the pitching circle against Drake,â€ Yori said. â€œWe gave up some big hits, and offensively we didnâ€™t hit the ball very well.â€
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 Ramsâ€™ third one-run victory of the tournament, proving the Rams have no trouble playing in pressure-packed situations.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of ball games that are won or lost by one run,â€ Yori said. â€œWhen you can be on the winning side of those, you gain a lot of confidence.â€
Rebecca Penlan, who went six-for-12 with five runs batted in during the two-day tournament, led the Ramsâ€™ offense over the weekend. Penland, who is listed on the teamâ€™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 nationâ€™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.
â€œThis weekend is going to be a big challenge for us, but we are excited about that,â€ the CSU head coach said. â€œWe are going to see what we are made out of.â€
Thus far, the team has relied heavily on major innings from sophomore pitcher Kelli Eubanks along with freshman Kelsey Oâ€™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.
â€œBecause we are going to be facing some better hitting teams, all of our pitchers are going to get some innings,â€ she said. â€œWe need to get some production out of our third and fourth pitchers.â€
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.