Softball preview: Rams kick off 2012 campaign in Austin

Head Coach Jen Fisher begins her second season at the helm of her alma mater's softball program.

Head Coach Jen Fisher begins her second season at the helm of her alma mater's softball program.

Feb. 7, 2012

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Texas Classic…
The Rams kick off their 2012 campaign at the Texas Classic in Austin, Texas, on Friday. They will take on UTSA for their first game of the season at 10 a.m. MT, followed by a matchup with Cal State Fullerton at 1 p.m. MT. On Saturday, CSU will face host and No. 18/19 Texas at 12 p.m. MT. The game against Texas will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network and will feature a headset interview with Head Coach Jen Fisher. Games 4 and 5 of the Classic will be determined in a round-robin format.

Clean slate...
The Rams start a brand-new season looking to improve upon a disappointing 8-43 2011 record. Head Coach Jen Fisher returns to her alma mater for her second year at the helm of the program. In conference play, the Rams defeated the Utah Utes 15-14 in Fort Collins to collect their first and only Mountain West win of the year. The Mountain West loses Utah and BYU and gains Boise State as a conference member in 2012.

UTSA...
The Roadrunners finished the 2011 season with a 28-27 overall record and a 17-13 record in the Southland Conference. They were tabbed fifth in the 2012 Southland Conference preseason poll. The team features two second-team all-conference players in senior Caitlyn Ivy and sophomore Molly Fichtner. The squad returns 11 letterwinners for the season.

Cal State Fullerton...
The Titans were predicted to place third in the Big West behind Pacific and Long Beach State, both of whom will face Colorado State this season. The team finished with a 23-24 record and finished third in the Big West with a 12-9 conference record.

No. 18/19 Texas...
The Rams faced the Longhorns, then ranked No. 13, twice in 2011. Texas’ pitching and high-scoring offense got the best of the Rams, as they fell in both contests by a score of 12-4 and later 8-0. Texas is ranked in both national preseason polls and is predicted to finish third in the Big 12 behind Missouri and Oklahoma. Junior Blaire Luna, who pitched a five-inning one-hitter against the Rams in 2011, will return to the bullpen.

Last time in Texas...
CSU went 0-5 at the Texas Classic last season, losing to Texas, Missouri State and Wisconsin.

Strength of schedule...
In 2011 the Rams faced a tough schedule that included 10 teams either ranked or receiving votes in the two national preseason top-25 polls. In 2012 they will face three of those 10: No. 9/10 Stanford, 18/19 Texas and San Diego State (12 total votes). Nine total 2012 opponents were ranked or received votes, including 2011 opponent New Mexico State and Mountain West rivals San Diego State and UNLV.

2011 losses...
The Rams lost just two seniors to graduation. Ivory Allen started 47 games and posted a .177 batting average in 113 at-bats. The loss of Caitlan Stem will leave big shoes to fill; Stem started every game of her collegiate career and leaves CSU as a top-five all-time performer in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, slugging percentage, RBI and walks. Stem also ranks third in single-season batting average with .400 in 2010. She was named all-conference in 2009, 2010 and 2011, making her the fifth player to receive three or more Mountain West softball nods.

Beefed-up bullpen...
Last season was a year of stuggle for the Ram pitching staff, which was made up of just four members. The team’s 2010 ace, Kelli Eubanks, started just three games after being sidelined by an elbow injury. Eubanks returns in 2012, along with sophomore Alexa Cash, who posted a 1-20 record. The 2012 pitching staff adds four new players, including Southern California Pitcher of the Year and and All-America honoree Kailey Snyder. A transfer from Santa Barbara City College, Snyder set the school record in wins (27), single-season strikeouts (234) and single-game strikeouts (15) in 2011. The staff also features Kali Haas and Kacie McCarthy, transfers from Holy Cross and Chico State, respectively.

Sophomores...
There were 10 freshmen on the roster in 2011, which was the most since 2007 (also 10). Six of those 10 return this year. Chelsea Biglow led the team in batting average (.300) and on-base percentage (.424) last year and recorded nine multiple-hit games. Emily Pohl led the team in home runs with 10 and hit the first CSU grand slam of the season, a walk-off shot to secure a win against Minnesota. Also returning is Alysa Greckel, who went 8-for-20 with five home runs at the Colorado State Classic and went 3-for-3 with five RBI against Santa Clara that same weekend.

Fresh faces...
The 2012 roster is comprised of nine returners and 10 newcomers, which will provide a mixture of veteran Rams and fresh talent. Notable newcomers include All-American Kailey Snyder and Missouri transfer Ashlie Ortega, whose 2011 squad reached the opening round of the Women’s College World Series and went 1-2 in the tournament. Five freshmen will join the team, four of whom hail from Colorado (David, Wikre, Hutton and Rodriguez).

Seniors...
There were just two seniors on the squad in 2011, and the same will be the case for 2012. Pitcher Kelli Eubanks will return after battling an injury and starting just three games last year. In 2010 Eubanks went 23-13 with a 3.55 ERA, the lowest on the pitching staff and seventh in the Mountain West. Eubanks also ranked seventh in lowest opposing batting average (.261) in 2010. Colorado native Lyssa Roberts returns for her final season after posting a .271 batting average with 22 runs scored, 38 hits (good for second on the team) and 22 RBI (fourth).

Accolades...
The 2012 squad features three players who received the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete Award in 2011. Lyssa Roberts (3.66 GPA), Alysa Greckel (3.64) and Kendal Butterfield (3.78) each received the honor. Those three, along with Chelsea Biglow, Brianna Donahue and Cassy Mosser, were also named MW academic all-conference.


 

 

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