Softball Heads to USD Tournament

The Wolf Pack softball team is off to its best start in program history at 9-3 through 12 games. That stretch includes three wins over Top 25 teams, including a historic 1-0 upset over then No. 1 Arizona at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Wolf Pack’s only losses this year have come to ranked teams in UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, all of which are in the top 6 of the Softball Top 25 poll this week. Nevada has won five straight games, the team’s longest winning streak since a program-record 10-game streak during the middle of last season.
Nevada returns the bulk of last year’s team that went 28-31 overall and came within a game of making it to its second-straight NCAA Tournament. Nevada brings back 15 letterwinners, all eight starters and its top two pitchers from last year’s team. Senior pitcher Jordan McPherson was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference this season. She was joined on the All-WAC Preseason Team by junior outfielder Brittany Puzey, who was an All-West Region selection in 2007. The Pack adds four freshmen to the mix this year and the other newcomer is senior pitcher Richelle Villescas, a transfer from Temple. The Pack is coached by Michelle Gardner in her sixth year overall and at Nevada.

The University of Nevada continues the 2008 campaign with a solid slate at the University of San Diego Tournament in San Diego, Calif. The Pack will play games against three teams that posted winning records in 2007, including one, Colorado State, that is receiving votes in both major polls. Nevada will play two games on Friday, two on Saturday and finish up with a single game on Sunday.

Nevada first opponent of the tournament will be the Thundering Herd, a team that the Wolf Pack has never faced before.
Marshall is off to one of its best hitting seasons in program history with a team batting average of .307. Paving the way for the Herd is left fielder Rachael Sofie and her .455 batting average, which leads the team. Sophomore Caitlyn Jackson follows with a .417 average with a home run, two triples and a team-high 11 RBIs. On the mound, junior Autumn Mitchell has had early success for the Herd with her team-high 1.40 ERA and a 3-1 record. She's also struck out 23 batters.
Marshall is coached by Shonda Stanton, who entered her eighth year at the school and ninth year overall with a 248-190 career record. She came in with a 221-165 record with the Herd.
The Highlanders enter the tournament with a 2-7 overall record after competing at the Palm Springs Tournament and its own aTEN Construction Tournament.
UC Riverside is led offensively by junior Katie Curtis and sophomore Marissa Alvidrez, who have put up identical .364 batting averages through nine games. Junior pitcher Stephanie Marshall has led the Highlanders in the circle with a 1-2 record and 1.70 earned-run average in nearly 13 innings of work.
UC Riverside is coached by Connie Miner who entered her 18th season overall with a 418-566-2 record and entered her sixth year at the school with a 66-157 mark. Nevada has a 5-1 lead in the all-time series with the Highlanders.

The Rams and Wolf Pack will meet for the 10th time overall and the first time since 2006 on Saturday at the tournament. Both teams received three points in this weeks USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll while Nevada has 12 points and Colorado State had five in the Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll.
Colorado State is led offensively by senior Lauren Cusick, who was named MWC Player of the Week this week for her performance in the Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces Classic. Cusick, from Salem, Ore., helped Colorado State to a 5-0 record in Week 2, on the way to a Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces Classic championship. In five starts, she hit .571 (12-for-21), including three doubles, a triple and four home runs. In the circle, senior Cayte Billman and junior Kim Klabough lead the way. Billman is 4-0 on the season and Klabough is 3-0. Billman has thrown 30 innings, giving up only six earned runs and one home run. Klabough has pitched 24 innings with 21 strikeouts.
Colorado State is coached by Mari Yori who entered her 19th season overall with a 651-333-2 record and entered her eighth year at CSU with a 192-175 mark. CSU leads the series 6-3.

Nevada will take on the host school, University of San Diego for the seventh meeting all-time between the schools. Nevada holds a 5-1 lead in the series.
The University of San Diego enters this weekend 3-7 after splitting with crosstown rival UC San Diego this week. USD got its first wins of the season last weekend against UC Riverside and Northern Colorado at the UC Riverside Tournament. In the circle, USD is led by Alyssa Luna, who has a 2-1 record and a 3.00 earned-run average. Offensively, Celeste Soto and Jennifer Ellenbeck have combined for four home runs and 13 RBI for the Toreroes.
USD is coached by Melissa McElvain, who is in her seventh year at the school.

Nevada concludes play in the tournament on Sunday when it takes on Loyola Marymount, an NCAA Regionals participant last season. The Lions went 47-18 in 2007 and are off to an 8-3 start to the 2008 season.
Offensively, the Lions are paced by junior Chelsie Tysdal, who has slammed five home runs and has 14 RBI this season to go along with a .457 average. Junior Kirsten Slouber has a .455 average has recorded five stolen bases without being caught. LMU is led in the circle by senior pitcher Tiffany Pagano, who is the reigning Pacific Coast Softball Conference Pitcher of the Week. With her win over Northern Colorado on Monday, Pagano is now 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA on the season. She leads the Lions in ERA, innings pitched (47.1), complete games (five), strikeouts (58), and opponent batting average (.177).
LMU is coached by Gary Ferrin, who entered his 14th year overall and at the school with a 467-336-1 record. The Lions have a 4-0 lead in the all-time series but the teams have not met since Nevada revived its softball program in 2003.


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