Games 16-19: Husky Softball Classic
at Seattle, Wash.
Hosted by Washington
The Wolf Pack softball team is off to its best start in program history at 10-5 through 15 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 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll this week.
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.
ABOUT THIS WEEKEND
The University of Nevada continues the 2008 campaign with a challenging slate at the Husky Softball Classic hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle. Nevada will play four games in the tournament two against Portland State and one each against No. 1 Alabama and No. 25 Washington.
The original schedule for the tournament was changed this weekend as Nevada was supposed to play Alabama twice once on Saturday and once on Sunday. However, due to the Crimson Tide’s travel schedule, Nevada will play Portland State twice.
Follow the games online via GameTracker. Live scoring on the Internet is available. Look for the “Live Stats” link on the softball team’s schedule page at www.nevadawolfpack.com.
SCOUTING PORTLAND STATE
Nevada first and third opponent of the tournament will bem a familiar one as the Wolf Pack will take on Portland State. The teams have met 26 times previously and the Vikings hold a 19-7 advantage in the series.
Portland State is 6-9 overall and lost 4-0 at Oregon State last week before going 2-2 at last weekend’s UCSB Softball By The Beach tournament. The Vikings beat St. John’s twice, winning 3-1 and 4-3 in eight innings, and lost twice to host UCSB, 1-0 and 8-5 Senior outfielder Shannon Stacy went 7-for-13 (.538) last week to lead Portland State at the plate. The Vikings are led in the circle by senior right-hander Mandy Hill, who has a 4-5 record with a 2.86 earned-run average.
The Vikings are coached by Amy Hayes, who entered her third year at Portland State and sixth year overall with a 182-149 career coaching mark.
For the second time this season, the Nevada Wolf Pack will take on the No. 1 team in the nation. It worked out well for the Pack the first time as it beat defending national champion Arizona 1-0 on Feb. 17.
The Crimson Tide is 15-0 and are receiving the bulk of first-place votes in both major polls. Offensively, Alabama has six players hitting over .300 and the Crimson Tide are hitting .371 as a team. Junior outfielder Brittany Rogers is hitting .633 and has 21 stolen bases in 21 attempts. The Tide’s pitching staff has been dominant, with a team earned-run average of 0.88. Opponents are hitting just .136 off Alabama pitchers.
Alabama is coached by Patrick Murphy, who is 482-149 in his 11th year overall and at the school. This is the first-ever meeting between Nevada and Alabama.
Nevada will try for its first-ever win over Washington when it takes on the No. 25 Huskies on Sunday. Washington holds a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series between the teams.
Washington is 7-5-1 overall this season and won three out of four at the Lobo Invitational last weekend. Prior to that, Washington competed in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and faced three of the same teams that Nevada did at the tournament. Nevada and Washington both beat UMKC and both lost to Texas A&M. Nevada beat Texas State while Washington fell to the Bobcats, 2-1.
The Huskies have six batters hitting over .300 on the year, led by Jace Williams at .519. Overall, Washington is hitting .313 as a team. In the circle, the Huskies have two solid starters in Caitlin Noble, 6-3 with a 2.46 earned-run average, and Aleah Macon, 1-2 with a 1.59 ERA.
Washington is coached by Heather Tarr, who entered 2008 with a 112-66 record overall and in three years at the school. The Huskies reached the College World Series one season ago and are coming off a 42-19 campaign in 2007.
Sophomore infielder Sam Bias has been on a tear as of late for the Wolf Pack. The third basemen is riding a current hitting streak of 10 games for Nevada, the longest of her career. She has hit safely in 13 of 15 games so far this season and has a .390 average.
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