SOFTBALL OPENS 2017 SEASON THIS WEEK WITH SIX GAMES IN HAWAII

SOFTBALL OPENS 2017 SEASON THIS WEEK WITH SIX GAMES IN HAWAII

Full set of game notes (7 pages) - pdf

A LOOK AT THIS WEEK

• Sacramento State opens the 2017 season on the road at the Paradise Classic in Honolulu where the Hornets will play six games over three days (Feb. 9-11). All games will be played at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium on the campus of Hawai'i.
• On Thursday, the Hornets face Oregon State (4:30 p.m. PST) and tournament host Hawai'i (7 p.m.), followed by Friday games against UAB (2 p.m.) and Boise State (7 p.m.). The Hornets wrap up tournament play on Saturday against Oregon State (11 a.m.) and Boise State (3 p.m.).
• Live stats for all six games can be found via the softball schedule on hornetsports.com by clicking on the link located to the right of each game.
• The Hornet softball program will make its first trip to Hawaii since the 1991 season, which was also Sacramento State's second year as a Div. I squad.
• Last year, the Hornets finished with a 28-22 overall record and a 15-6 mark in the Big Sky Conference, good for second place in the league standings.
• The Hornets were selected to finish second in the eight-team Big Sky in the preseason coaches poll. Sacramento State returns 14 players from last season's squad, including six positional starters and three pitchers.
• The Hornets welcome seven freshmen to the roster, and of the team's 21 players on the roster, 13 are underclassmen (seven freshmen, six sophomores).
• Since joining the Div. I ranks in 1990, the Hornets are 13-14 in their season openers.

MULTIMEDIA OPTIONS FOR THE SEASON

• Live stats for every game this season can be found on the softball schedule at www.hornetsports.com by clicking on the link next to each game on the schedule. Sometimes, links for games on the road will not be available until the day of the game.
• Live audio will be available for every Sacramento State home game courtesy of KSSU Student Radio. All available multimedia links, including live audio, can be found on the softball schedule.

VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS

• Sacramento State enters this week's games with an all-time combined record of 18-17 against the four opponents it will face at the Paradise Classic.
• That includes a 12-10 record against Oregon State with the teams' last meeting coming in a Beaver doubleheader sweep in 2001 at Shea Stadium.
• The Hornets are 2-6 against Hawai'i, and the two teams will be playing for the first time since the Rainbow Wahine defeated Sacramento State at the Capital Classic in 1994.
• The Hornets are 2-0 all-time against UAB, and the teams will face each other for the first time since a 15-8 Sacramento State win at the Mustang Classic in San Luis Obispo on Feb. 22, 2008.
• Sacramento State is 2-1 against Boise State with the last matchup taking place in Moraga on March 1, 2014, a 3-1 Hornet win. In that game, current Sacramento State center fielder Shelby Johnston went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs out of the No. 2 hole of the Hornets' lineup.

A LOOK AT THE POTENTIAL STARTERS FOR THE HORNETS

• When the Hornets open the season on Thursday, there will be a lot of familiar faces taking the field. Starters are back at first base (Jessica Ravetti), second base (Zamari Hinton), shortstop (Sydney Rasmussen), center field (Shelby Johnston) and right field (Natalie Alas). In addition, Nikki Gialketsis, who started 18 games behind the plate a year ago, will be back.
• Ravetti, Hinton and Rasmussen each received all-Big Sky recognition a year ago.
Kailey Olcott, who started at third base last season, will redshirt in 2017, meaning there will be new starters for the Hornets at third base, left field and designated player.
• The likely starter at third base will be true freshman Morgan Spieth who was a two-time league player of the year at Union High School in Camas, Wash. As a junior, she hit .694 with nine doubles, 10 home runs, 46 RBIs, a .753 on-base percentage, a 1.292 slugging percentage and massive 2.045 ops.
• True freshman Suzy Brookshire, who will hit in the middle of the lineup along with Ravetti and Spieth, is the likely starter at designated player. Over her final two years at San Benito High School, she hit .505 (92-for-182) with 25 doubles, 10 triples, 22 home runs, 97 RBIs and a 1.637 ops.
• The left field starting spot will likely go to junior Marissa Maligad or sophomore Sydnee Strong. Maligad played in 10 games a year ago (7 starts) while Strong played in 13 games (8 starts). Maligad started 43 games on the left side of the infield as a freshman in 2015.

IN THE CIRCLE

• Sacramento State finished second in the Big Sky last season with a 3.51 ERA, and the biggest contributor was right-hander Celina Matthias who returns for her junior season.
• Matthias was named third team all-region, Big Sky Pitcher of the Year, first team all-league and was a four-time Big Sky Pitcher of the Week selection after finishing last year with a 20-13 record, six saves, a 2.94 ERA and 214.1 innings pitched. The 20 wins were the most by a Hornet since 1997, the six saves tied for most in program history and the 214.1 innings were the fourth most in the team's Div. I era.
• Also back are right-handers Savanna Corr (5-4, 3.44 ERA) and Taylor Tessier (2-1, 4.97 ERA). True freshman left-hander Danielle Sperry (Ripon HS) rounds out Sacramento State's four pitchers.

HORNET NOTABLES

• Second baseman Zamari Hinton finished last season on a six-game hitting streak, and batted .476 (10-for-21) with eight runs scored and four RBIs over that stretch.
• Senior center fielder Shelby Johnston enters the season with the most career games (124) and starts (113) of any current Hornet. She has raised her batting average every year, including .289  last season.
• Should third-year junior Marissa Maligad start in left field this week, it would mark her first career start in the outfield, having accumulated 35 starts at third base and 15 at shortstop during her first two years.
• Shortstop Sydney Rasmussen reached base safely in 42 of 48 games a year ago, which included reaching base safely in each of the final 11 games of the 2016 season.
• First baseman Jessica Ravetti, who finished last season with a .324 average and 35 RBIs, hit .545 (6-for-11) with four doubles, eight RBIs and a .909 slugging percentage over the last three games of 2016.
Celina Matthias' 30 career wins are already the 10th best mark in Sacramento State's Div. I era, and she needs just seven wins to move into the sixth spot and 13 to move into the top five.
• Sacramento State has won at least 25 games in three consecutive years, and four times in the last five seasons. In addition, the Hornets have a 42-16 record in Big Sky play over the last three years.
• This year's team captains are fourth-year seniors Shelby Johnston, Nikki Gialketsis and Jessica Ravetti.