Season Preview: CSU softball poised for success in 2013
Feb. 5, 2013
By Nick Frank
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – After an impressive 2012 season that earned Colorado State a tie for second-place in the Mountain West, Head Coach Jen Fisher and the Rams have their sights set high for the 2013 season.
Fisher, who was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year following the 2012 season, has her team primed to compete for a conference title, which she believes is a by-product of last year’s success. The Rams ended the season on a seven-game winning streak and won 10 of their last 11 games to close the season with a 28-22 record, the program’s best mark since 2010 (29-20) and the Rams’ best conference finish since winning the Mountain West regular-season championship in 2004.
“Now that they believe in themselves a little bit more, I think it’s time to take the next step,” said Fisher.
Fisher added that the next step includes making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament and playing against top-level teams.
“I think we have made a concerted effort to step it up a bit and prove ourselves early,” said Fisher of the Rams’ strong non-conference schedule. “We talk to the team a lot about two different ways to get to the tournament and one is to win the conference and two is to have a strong showing against some top-ranked team.”
The Rams will return a bulk of the starters from last season’s squad, including the 2012 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year, Kacie McCarthy. McCarthy, who went 17-8 last season including a team-best 2.86 ERA, will likely be the ace of the staff heading into the year.
“The thing about Casey is that she has been really consistent,” said Fisher. “That is the main thing that I’m hoping from her is to not really change anything. I think that is the reason she did so well because she had that attitude last year.”
At the plate, the Rams will be anchored by junior shortstop Ashlie Ortega, who led the team in hits (66) and batting average (.357) last season.
“She is a really great leader, knows the game and kind of runs the field and is a tremendous hitter,” Fisher said of Ortega. “She is a presence out there.”
The Rams will also feature returning starters in Emily Pohl (catcher), Alysa Greckel (first base) and Chelsea (third base), as well as Cassy Mosser and Haley David – who split time at second base – to round out the infield. In the outfield, the Rams return starters Shae Rodriguez (center) and Kendal Butterfield (left), as well as sophomore Taylor Hutton who played in 41 games with 19 starts, and senior Brianna Donahue, who will be back after missing last season with a shoulder injury.
In addition, the Rams expect big contributions at the plate from sophomore Danielle Wikre, and a strong freshman class that includes catcher Jaelyn Manzanares, infielders Michaela Good and Maci Stouffer, and outfielder Lauren Snodgrass.
“I think we did a lot of really good things,” said Fisher. “I don’t think we are an underdog or a surprise to anyone any more so that adds some pressure in your performance. There is no sneaking up on people like we did last year.”
The Rams will be tested early on in the season, kicking the 2013 season off against BYU on Feb. 7 as part of the Red Desert Classic.