Softball preview: First-place CSU set to host New Mexico

Riding a 10-game home winning streak, the first-place Rams host New Mexico for a three-game set at Ram Field this week, beginning with a double header Tuesday.

Riding a 10-game home winning streak, the first-place Rams host New Mexico for a three-game set at Ram Field this week, beginning with a double header Tuesday.

April 21, 2014

Weekly Release (PDF)

New Mexico at Colorado State
| Tuesday, April 22 | 2 p.m. MT | Live Stats
New Mexico at Colorado State | Tuesday, April 22 | 4 p.m. MT | Live Stats
New Mexico at Colorado State | Wednesday, April 23 | 1 p.m. MT | Live Stats

SIZING UP NEW MEXICO

New Mexico enters this week’s series with a 13-29 overall mark, including 4-11 in Mountain West play. The Lobos are coming off a series loss to UNLV over the weekend, dropping two of three contests. On the year, head coach Erica Beach’s team is 2-9 in true road contests.

Leading the Lobos on offense is sophomore Naomi Tellez, who has a team-best 32 RBI. Tellez, who has started all 42 contests, is hitting .360 with five home runs and 15 runs scored. With 16 walks, she holds a .433 on-base percentage. Two other Lobos are hitting above .300, and seven are above .285. In the circle, New Mexico has three pitchers with four or five wins, but each holds an ERA north of 6.26.

As a team, the Lobos are near the bottom of each statistical category. Their best marks are in strikeouts – 173; fourth-fewest – and home runs – 26; fifth. After this weekend, CSU will have played New Mexico more than any other team – passing Utah. The Rams are 51-49 in the all-time series.

LOOKING BACK AT NEVADA
The Rams extended their home winning streak and moved into a first-place tie in the conference standings with a three-game sweep of Nevada over the weekend.

  • Game 1: With both teams scoreless through five and a half innings of play, the Rams finally were able to jump on the Wolf Pack, scoring five times in the fifth inning. Senior Chelsea O’Connor had three RBI, including driving in the game’s first two runs, and Kendal Butterfield hit her second home run of the season. Sophomore Holly Reinke threw a complete game, allowing just a solo home run in the sixth. She struck out seven. With the win – 7-1 – the Rams guaranteed themselves a winning record for the third straight year.
  • Game 2: Junior Molly Randle went the distance, picking up her fifth win of the season. Again scoreless early, CSU scored four times in the fourth. Nevada would get within two, 5-3, in the sixth, but the Rams shut the door with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Freshman Haley Hutton had two RBI, reaching base three times in the 8-3 win, while also flashing some nice leather at second base.
  • Game 3: CSU completed the sweep in comeback fashion, beating Nevada, 4-3, to win its 10th straight home game and move into a first-place tie in the Mountain West standings. Senior third baseman Chelsea Biglow had two RBI, including one of the biggest hits of the day. Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, junior Haley David reached on an infield single and scored the tying run on Biglow’s triple down the right-field line. With two outs, pinch hitter Taylor Hutton hit a comebacker that Nevada’s pitcher couldn’t handle, allowing Biglow to score the winning run. Holly Reinke earned her 15th win of the season, pitching a complete game.

STILL SIZZLING
The Rams began the season with four straight victories, and after a month of play, sat at 15-5, the team’s best mark in 25 years. Following a four-game slide, they got back on track, and have since won 12 of their last 13 games.

With a 27-10 overall mark, the Rams have reached 27 victories faster than any season in the last decade. In 2003, CSU also started the year at 27-10 before finishing 37-15, winning the Mountain West tournament and earning an NCAA tournament berth. Should CSU win its series opener vs. New Mexico on Tuesday, it will mark the team’s best mark through 38 games since 1997 – also a conference championship season.

CSU’s win last Thursday vs. Nevada guaranteed the Rams a winning record for the third straight season. It also matched last year’s win total (25-24), with 14 regular-season games still to play. A sweep vs. New Mexico would give the Rams 30 wins on the season for the first time since 2007.

MOVING UP TO FIRST PLACE
After a disappointing start to conference play – dropping a three-game series at Utah State – the Rams have rebounded, winning eight of their last nine MW games. With Saturday’s victory over Nevada, the Rams improved to 8-4 on the year, and moved into a first-place tie with Fresno State and San Diego State. The Rams will face both the Bulldogs and Aztecs in the coming weeks, with a chance to win the program’s first conference championship since 2004.

DANGEROUS AT HOME
Beginning Tuesday vs. New Mexico, the Rams will look to extend their home winning streak, which stands at 10 games. On the year, CSU is 12-2 at home. The Rams’ last home loss came on March 9, to Nebraska Omaha. Since then, they have rattled off consecutive wins over Boise State (3), Northern Colorado, UTEP (3) and Nevada (3).

The Rams’ 10-game home winning streak is the third-longest in program history. CSU won 15 straight at home from 1988-89, and 20 from 1996-97.

MOVING UP THE RANKS
Both individually and as a team, CSU ranks among the best in the Mountain West in several statistical categories, and is even moving up the charts nationally. On offense, CSU leads the league in runs scored per game, slugging and on-base percentage, and is second in batting average. The Rams rank third in the MW in ERA and opposing batting average, and second in fielding percentage.

Nationally, CSU’s 6.54 runs-per-game average ranks 15th. They rank fourth in the NCAA with 1.73 doubles per game, and 31st in batting average (.314). Individually, several Rams are among the best in the nation, including senior Chelsea O’Connor (1.43 RBI per game; third) and freshman Haley Hutton (1.14 runs per game; 12th).

UP NEXT
The Rams will look to make a strong push toward a postseason berth, but it won’t come easy. CSU’s final three series come against teams in the upper half of the conference standings, including at San Diego State this weekend (tied for first place) and at Fresno State May 2-4 (also tied for first place).


 

 

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