Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekend Roundup

(Your resident softball reporter has come down with a case of influenza, so the Weekend Roundup kicks off 2017 with an abbreviated, mildly-belated edition today.)

Cal Poly's Sierra Hyland got out to a red-hot
MUSTANGS HURLER STARTS YEAR ON 'HY' NOTE --- Cal Poly's Sierra Hyland may have been a name that few recognized when she appeared on both the USA Softball and JWOS Top 50 Watch-List's during the preseason. There's no doubt that those same people know her name now. The righty hurler for the Mustangs opened the season with a no-hitter over the Big 10's Purdue, recording nine strikeouts, before following that up with a perfect game over Creighton, when she again recorded nine strikeouts, this time in a five-inning affair. Oh, and for good measure, Hyland added a three-run home run against Creighton to pad her insurance. Hyland earned three victories total on the weekend, as well as one save and a hard-luck 3-1 loss to Oregon to finish off the weekend.

EYE OF THE TIGER --- Memphis senior Lindsay Crowdus began her final season on a serious hot streak, ending the weekend 11-14 including a streak of nine consecutive at-bats where she recorded a hit. The streak was the longest in Memphis program history and came up just four short of the all-time record. A strikeout  in extra innings in the weekend's final game ended the streak, but still left the senior with a .786 batting average and 1.143 slugging percentage after the season's first quintet of games.

SCHROEDER LEADS HOGS, CONFERENCE --- En route to gathering the SEC's first Player of the Week honors of the year, senior Nicole Schroeder started her year with a .636 batting average and a trifecta of home runs. The senior slugger drove in nine runs over the course of the weekend and helped lead a power onslaught that included a total of ten long balls from the Razorback offense. Schroeder, the youngest of four softball-playing sisters in one of the finest familial legacies in the sport, will surely be a catalyst for any success the Hogs are to have this season. She's off to a good start.

GOLDEN EAGLES SWARM LAMSON, BEAT CAJUNS --- After a 2-2 start to the season, and with a doubleheader against perennially-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette pending, it would have been easy for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles to hang their heads on a poor start and decide to just improve starting next week. Unfortunately for the Ragin Cajuns, that isn't Wendy Hogue's way. On the final day of the Louisiana-Lafayette Invitational, the Eagles posted two victories, including one come-from-behind and one where they never saw a deficit, and swept the Cajuns at Lamson Park. For perspective, it was the first time that the Cajuns have lost at home since February 19, 2016 and the first time they've lost to an unranked team since March 28, 2015. Samantha Papp's solo home run added the necessary insurance for the Eagles in the first game, while a walk-off long ball from Selena Estrada ended game two.

WASHINGTON LEAVES MEXICO AS TOP DOG --- Treated as sort of the throw-in to the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge that led off with an Oklahoma v. Auburn rematch, the Huskies made their presence known, going 3-1 on the weekend including defeats of both the Sooners and the Tigers. The Huskies didn't score a run before the seventh inning against Auburn, eventally pushing the game to ten innings and scoring in the tenth to give them the 2-1 victory. Senior Ali Aguilar had the go-ahead RBI in the 10th that gave the Huskies the lead once and for all. Heather Tarr's squad shut out the defending champion Sooners on the final day of the tournament, winning a tough 1-0 ball game behind solo home run from Taylor Van Zee that proved to be the only scoring the Huskies needed. A victory over Nebraska also helped dim the effects of the Huskies' tight 4-2 loss to BYU.

FRESNO STARTS OUT ON RIGHT FOOT --- One of the biggest questions we felt had to be answered this season, across the mid-major ranks, was how Fresno State would respond and react to losing both their uber-successful head coach and ace in the circle all at the same time. If opening weekend was any answer, that response should only be a positive one. The Bulldogs went 4-1 to open the season, including victories over Indiana, Purdue, and a blowout win over Stanford. Sophomore Kamalani Dung pitched her way to a 1.24 ERA, earning three victories from the circle and giving up just three runs in seventeen innings of work. Opponents didn't even hit .160 against the youngster, coming in at just a .155 mark. Freshman Miranda Rohleder hit .727 on the weekend, reaching base eight times and collecting a slugging percentage of 1.182, while junior Savannah McHellon teed off, hitting two home runs and driving in eight runs.

PERFECTION ABOUNDS --- Alabama's ace hurler Alexis Osorio and Arizona State's Dale Ryndak both found themselves seeking and finding perfection on opening weekend. Osorio put together a stellar performance, striking out nineteen batters in a complete game shutout against Coastal Carolina. The mark set a new Crimson Tide single-game record. ASU's Ryndak recorded her perfect game, the sixth in program history, in a five-inning, run-rule-shortened affaid against UTEP 8-0. The junior collected six strikeouts through the whole affair. Adding no-hitters on opening weekend were Long Beach State's Christina Clermont and Southern Illinois' Brianna Jones.

UPSET CITY --- As always is the case, upsets abounded throughout opening weekend. Four-time defending Atlantic 10 champs Fordham took a 1-0 victory over Baylor on Thursday, giving the Bears an early mark in the 'L' column. A complete game from Lauren Quense and a solo shot from Jessica Hughes paced the Rams. Pittsburgh bested both the SEC's Kentucky and UCF on Friday to end their own opening day a somewhat-surprising 2-0. The Panthers enjoyed a three-run fifth inning to give them all of the offense they needed, while junior hurler Kayla Harris shut the Wildcats down the rest of the way, scattering five hits over her seven innings in the circle. Finally, in one of the most impressive upsets over the weekend, Amanda Lehotak's Penn State took a 7-3 victory over LSU at Tiger Park. Three different players chipped in two RBIs a piece and sophomore Madison Seifert held it down in the circle, scattering six hits and three runs across seven innings while striking out three.

(The Arizona Wildcats' senior comes into this season 28 home runs away from the NCAA career record. We will track her progress weekly towards the all-time mark.)

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