Softball preview: Rams set for final 2012 series

Sophomore Chelsea Biglow is tied for first on the team in RBI (39)

Sophomore Chelsea Biglow is tied for first on the team in RBI (39)

May 7, 2012

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Coming up...
The Rams wrap up the 2012 season with a three-game series against the New Mexico Lobos starting on Thursday at 4 p.m. MT in Fort Collins. The two teams will then square off in a doubleheader on Friday in order for the UNM squad to get its six seniors back to Albuquerque for commencement ceremonies. Game 1 is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. MT, with the season finale immediately following.

Previously...
After being swept by San Diego State to open conference play on April 14-15 and taking two from Boise State the following weekend, the Rams picked up three more Mountain West wins by sweeping last-place UNLV April 27-29. With the sweep, CSU climbed to 5-4 in conference play and sits in third place in the standings. Freshman Shae Rodriguez supplied four of CSU’s runs in a 5-2 win on April 27 with her first college-career grand slam. Junior Kacie McCarthy also helped lead the team to its first win over the Rebels since 2009 with another solid pitching performance. The Rams followed up that win with a five-inning, 8-0 shutout that was televised on the MountainWest Sports Network. Sophomores Ashlie Ortega and Emily Pohl each hit home runs, Pohl’s a three-run shot, to help build enough of a lead to force the NCAA mercy rule for the fourth time this year. Junior Kailey Snyder picked up her ninth win of the season with a four-hit, complete-game shutout performance and also got her third start in the batting order. Snyder went 1-for-2 at the plate including a single to start the third inning and one run scored. CSU completed the sweep of UNLV in Game 3 with a 5-3 win. The sweep marked the first time the Rams have taken all three games in a conference series since 2010, when they won all three matchups with New Mexico. Pohl moved into first place in the home run category with her ninth jack of the year, while McCarthy pitched her second complete game of the weekend, fanning five and walking two, to pick up her 15th victory of 2012. The Rams were back in action on Wednesday to wrap up the four-game season series with in-state rival Northern Colorado. CSU entered the game with a 3-0 edge in the series, having outscored the Bears by a combined 24-8 margin in the first three games. McCarthy got her 20th start in the circle and gave up one run and four hits through the first four innings, but the Bears stormed back with four runs in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. Facing a two-run deficit in the seventh, the Rams loaded the bases and capitalized on two UNC errors to score three runs and take the lead back for good. The win in their final non-conference game of the season brought the Rams to 26-22 overall and extended their current winning streak to four games. With just three games left on the schedule, CSU is guaranteed its first winning season since 2010 (29-20).

New Mexico...
The New Mexico Lobos are a team with two sides. Entering this week’s competition, the Lobos stand at 27-22, but are just 4-12 on the road and 2-7 in Mountain West action. While New Mexico ranks first in most offensive statistical categories, it is last in most pitching stats. Leading the offense is senior catcher Jessica Garcia who is hitting .445 (second in MW) with 22 home runs, 67 RBI and an .896 slugging percentage, all conference highs. Joining Garcia is junior infielder Stefanie Carramusa, who also leads the conference with 22 home runs. As a team, the Lobos are hitting .315 and have 91 dingers, which leads the nation. Their 6.88 runs-per-game average is eighth in the country. While New Mexico’s pitching is last in the league, redshirt junior Kaela DeBroeck has 13 wins (13-6) and a 5.64 ERA. The Lobos began the season with plenty of potential, being ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Division I top-25 poll in seven of the first eight weeks, peaking at No. 23. New Mexico is coached by Erica Beach, who is in her second year in Albuquerque.

Conference play last season...
The Rams are currently 5-4 in conference play. They struggled as a team overall in 2011, winning just eight games total, and conference play was no exception, as they ended the year with a 1-14 record in the Mountain West. Their lone win came in a 15-14 victory over then-MW rival Utah, which also marked CSU’s first win in nearly six weeks. The conference lost BYU and Utah this season, but with the addition of Boise State, the conference currently consists of five teams.

Moving up in the Mountain West...
After picking up two wins against Boise State and completing the sweep of UNLV, CSU currently sits in third place in the Mountain West standings behind San Diego State and BSU. New Mexico, who led the conference in overall record before conference play began, is currently in fourth place with a 2-7 MW record. UNLV rounds out the standings with a 2-7 conference record and 21-25 record overall. The Rebels won their first MW games of the season on Friday and Sunday by taking two of three from New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Road wins...
CSU will end the 2012 season with a 7-10 road record, but the Rams will also end the year on a four-game winning streak on the road. After dropping three straight in San Diego, the Rams picked up three wins in Las Vegas with the sweep of UNLV and defeated Northern Colorado three days later in Greeley.

On the other end of the mercy rule...
The Rams finished the 2011 season with an 8-43 overall record and were run-ruled by their opponents 23 times, including seven in a row. This year, however, CSU has only been run-ruled three times. Those losses came against Texas, Nebraska and Stanford, all of whom were nationally-ranked at the time of play. The Rams have been on the winning side of a mercy rule four times this year, picking up wins by eight runs or more against UTSA, UC Riverside, Northern Colorado and UNLV.

Conference play so far...
With nine conference games in the books, CSU is ranked fourth in overall batting average (.287) ahead of only UNLV and fourth in ERA (4.45), ahead of New Mexico. The Rams rank second in on-base percentage (.384), runs scored (243) and RBI (218). Sophomore Ashlie Ortega is the highest-ranking Ram in batting average among all MW players, coming in at eighth place (.339). Freshmen Taylor Hutton, Shae Rodriguez and Haley David also cracked the top 20 with batting averages of .314 or better. Sophomore Emily Pohl leads the MW in walks (38), while Rodriguez rounds out the top five (22). Junior pitcher Kacie McCarthy ranks sixth in the MW with a 3.09 ERA and leads all pitcher in striking out batters looking (45). McCarthy is second in wins (15) only to Boise State ace Aubray Zell, who is 20-11. In conference-only play, Hutton, Pohl and senior Lyssa Roberts all rank within the top 15 in batting average (.379 or better).

Beefed-up bullpen...
Last season was a year of struggle 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 is currently 2-7 on the season with 11 starts, having most recently picked up the winning decision in CSU’s 6-5 victory over Northern Colorado. Junior Kacie McCarthy, who transferred from Chico State, continues to be an asset to the CSU pitching staff in her first season as a Ram, as she currently leads the team in wins (15), strikeouts (93), innings pitched (138) and lowest ERA (3.09). She picked up two big wins in CSU’s three-game road sweep over UNLV two weeks ago.McCarthy combined for two complete games, allowing six hits and two earned runs, striking out 10 in the pair of victories. Junior Kailey Snyder also continues to perform well in the circle, most recently pitching a shutout against the Rebels on April 28. Snyder surrendered just four hits and struck out four in her five-inning complete-game shutout, as the Rams defeated UNLV, 8-0. At 9-0, Snyder is still the only pitcher on the CSU staff with no losses.


 

 

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