Notes: Softball Heads West for Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Feb. 20, 2013
The Illini are participating in the Palm Springs tournament for a second time, going 3-1 in Feb. 2009, with wins over Boise State, JMU and UC Davis and a loss to No. 17 Cal.
For the third week in a row, the Illini will face a top-10 team, meeting No. 8 California on Saturday. Illinois opens the tournament against No. 22 Washington, and will face Oregon State and Georgia Tech, who both received votes in the NFCA poll this week. Georgia Tech was ranked 24th in last week's ESPN.com poll.
The tournament will feature 35 participating Division I teams, including 13 of the 25 teams ranked in this week's NFCA poll.
More detailed information about the tournament, including a full tournament schedule, can be found at: www.palmspringssoftballclassic.com.
SIZING UP THE COMPETITION
All four teams participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Washington advanced to the Super Regionals and California made it to the College World Series. The four-some all finished in the top 25 in the final RPI, with all but Georgia Tech finishing the season ranked by the NFCA.
About Washington: Washington finished 2012 with a 39-19 record, but placed eighth in the highly competitive Pac-12 with a 7-16 conference record. Nevertheless, the Huskies qualified for the NCAA Tournament. They earned three shutout victories the first weekend to advance to the Super Regionals, where they lost, 5-0 and 2-0 to top-ranked Cal.
The Huskies opened 2013 in Hawaii, going 4-2 with run-rule wins over Saint Mary's and Ole Miss and splitting pairs of games with UAB and Hawaii, winning both matchups on the final day. Washington then headed for San Diego, where it defeated Notre Dame and UC Riverside, but dropped close contests to ranked Kentucky and Oklahoma squads, as well as falling to Cal Poly.
Hooch Fagaly leads the Huskies at the plate, hitting .467 with 14 hits, two doubles, two home runs, five walks, seven runs and eight RBI. Victoria Hayward is batting .371 with four SB, and Kaitlin Inglesby has a .586 slugging percentage, with two homers and a double in 10 hits. Bryana Walker has thrown 36.2 innings in the circle, earning a a 4-2 record with a 2.21 ERA, an opposing batting average of .185 and 45 strikeouts.
About Oregon State: The Beavers finished 2012 with a 36-23 overall record, going 9-14 for a seventh-place finish in the Pac-12. An NCAA Tournament qualifier, OSU ended the year ranked No. 15 by the NFCA and #24 in the RPI.
Oregon State is 8-3 on the second, riding a six-game winning streak into this weekend. Their three losses came to No. 2 Oklahoma, Kentucky, who entered the poll the following week, and Creighton.
Natalie Hampton is hitting .444 with four home runs, nine runs and 15 RBI for an .833 slugging percentage. Lea Cavestany is batting .429 with 10 runs and three homers, as the Beavers as a team have hit 14 home runs in the first 11 games.
About California: The Golden Bears finished 2012 with a 58-7 record, winning the Pac-12 with a 21-3 conference campaign, and advancing to the College World Series. Cal began the 2012 season with 23-straight victories, before taking its first loss in the 10th inning to Hawaii, who also ended the day 23-1.
The Golden Bears dropped a 3-2 contest to Arkansas in the NCAA Regional, but came back to beat the Razorbacks, 7-0, in the final Regional game to advance to the next round. Cal swept the best-of-three series with Washington to qualify for its 12th WCWS appearance. The Golden Bears defeated LSU, 5-3, but fell to Oklahoma, 3-0. The beat Oregon, 6-3, but lost to eventual national champion, 5-2, in the elimination game, to end their outstanding season ranked No. 3 by the NFCA and #2 in the RPI.
California is 7-2 on the year, dropping its two of its first three games of the season to No. 14 Florida and Kentucky, before winning the next six straight. The Golden Bears have three battings hitting above .400, led by Victoria Jones, who is .526 with an .842 slugging percentage and a .679 on base percentage. Jolene Henderson has a 1.71 ERA in 53.1 innings pitched, earning a 6-2 record with 54 strikeouts.
About Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets finished third in the ACC in 2012, but won the conference tournament to receive the automatic bid the NCAA Regional. GT went 1-2 in the postseason, finishing the year ranked #25 in the RPI.
Georgia Tech began the 2013 season 7-0, before dropping a pair of games to Indiana last weekend. Hope Rush leads the team at the plate and in the circle, hitting .429 with five home runs and throwing 41.1 innings to go 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA.
ILLINI TOP THE CHARTS IN THE BIG TEN
After two weeks of competition, several members of the Illini sit atop the conference leader boards in various statistical categories. As a team, the Illini pitching staff is second in the league in opposing batting average and third in strikeouts looking. Illinois' offense is second in the Big Ten in stolen bases and third in triples, the defense is tied for third in most runners caught stealing.
For the second week in a row, Kylie Johnson leads the Big Ten in stolen bases and Katie Repole is tops with two triples. Jess Perkins continues to lead in HBP, and Brittany Sanchez, Alex Booker and Jenna Mychko all have a 1.000 fielding percentage. Booker is also in the top 12 in at bats, stolen bases, plate appearances, runs and hits, while Mychko is third in runners caught stealing and Sanchez is seventh in stolen bases. Perkins is also in the top seven in home runs, chances and putouts.
In the circle, Pepper Gay is second in opp. batting average, starts, appearances and called strikouts, third in innings pitched and wins, and fifth in strikeouts. Shelese Arnold is third in ER allowed, fifth in games finished, sixth in ERA and seventh in hits allowed.
ILLINOIS HAS TOUGH 2013 SLATE
Illinois has a tough task this season, with nine scheduled games against opponents that are ranked in the top 25 in the NFCA and ESPN.com polls this week, including six against top-10 teams. Illinois opened the season with a loss against No. 1 Alabama. The Orange and Blue played a pair of games against No. 6 Texas in Houston last weekend. Jess Perkins hit a two-run homer off Texas' Gabby Smith to record the only home run hit off the Longhorns this season, but Illinois dropped both contests. The Illini square off with No. 8 California and No. 22 Washington, along with Georgia Tech and Oregon State, who both received votes this week in the NFCA poll, this weekend in Palm Springs. The following weekend, Illinois plays No. 17/14 USF and No. 21/20 Kentucky, before playing a neutral-site doubleheader in Saint Louis against No 7 Missouri on March 20.
In addition to the seven ranked opponents, Illinois will play five games against teams who received votes in the NFCA poll, facing Georgia Tech and Oregon State this weekend, and hosting a three-game series against Ohio State on May 3-5.
Of Illinois' 34 scheduled opponents, 14 qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, six participated in Super Regionals, and three advanced to the Women's College World Series (Alabama, California, USF). Additionally, `Bama and Cal finished the year #1 and #2 in the RPI, with a total of 13 Illinois opponents clocking in in the top 50.