No. 23 BYU softball is traveling to Las Vegas to participate in the Desert Classic on Feb. 17-19, facing Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Cal Poly, Boise State, No. 18 Stanford and Cal State Northridge.
COUGAR QUICK HITS
— The Cougars are a combined 10-9 against opponents in this year’s Desert Classic, including 5-3 vs. Cal Poly, 1-0 vs. Boise State, 2-5 vs. Stanford and 2-1 vs. Cal State Northridge. This weekend will be the first meeting between BYU and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
— BYU split its first two games against ranked teams last week, losing to No. 14 Oregon, 3-2, before defeating No. 19 Texas A&M, 7-2. The Cougars will face one ranked team, No. 18/19 Stanford, this weekend.
— Senior catch Jessica Fitu leads BYU with a .500 batting average after hitting 9-of-18 with 17 total bases, including two home runs and two doubles. Fitu was followed by freshman first baseman Katie Manuma who finished the weekend batting .471 by going 8-of-17 with 11 total bases, including one home run, in her first games as a Cougar.
— Fourteen fielders and two pitchers started at least one game for BYU at the Kajikawa Classic. Eleven different players scored at least one run while all four pitchers to enter the circle for the Cougars had at least one strikeout.
OPPONENTS SERIES NOTES
BYU will face SIUE for the first time in program history on Thursday. The Cougars split in their tournament last weekend, getting wins over Drexel and Campbell. SIUE is led by Taylor Tooley, batting .417 with three stolen bases, and pitcher Ali Downing, who holds a 0.77 ERA in two appearances last week, allowing one earned run and striking out five.
BYU and Cal Poly will face each other for the third-straight year and sixth time in the last five years. Last season, BYU trailed 2-0 going into the final inning before scoring three runs, including a two-RBI single by current Cougar senior Caschjen Atagi. Cal Poly’s Nicole Lund hit two home runs and gathered
five RBI last weekend for the Mustangs.
Boise State and BYU have faced off once before, a 7-3 win for the Cougars in 2009 in Provo. In that game, current senior Paige Affleck earned the win and another senior on this year’s team, Kristin Delahoussaye, hit 2-for-3 with three RBI. Boise State has had a tough time bringing runs in, averaging just 1.25 per game.
BYU and Stanford also have a recent history, having faced off in 2010, a 4-2 win for BYU that snapped a three-game losing streak to the then-No. 9 ranked Cardinal. Current Cougars Jessica Fitu and Delaney Willard each hit a home run in the game, scoring four-straight runs and after going down 2-0 after three innings. Stanford has a solid one-two punch at pitcher, with Teagan Gerhart sporting a 0.82 ERA with 16 strikeouts and Ashley Chinn bringing a 3-0 record with 18 strikeouts to the weekend. Jenna Rich leads Stanford at the plate after batting .526 and hitting four home runs with 13 RBI in the Cardinal’s first five games.
Cal State Northridge went 3-2 last weekend, with Hannah Fraijo earning two of the Matadors’ wins from the circle. CS-Northridge works with a relatively straight lineup, with eight players starting every game last weekend, led by Jennifer Mosier who leads the team with five hits and eight total bases.
BYU PICKED FIRST IN MWC PRESEASON POLL
PROVO -- A voting panel of the six Mountain West Conference head softball coaches chose defending league champion BYU as the favorite to win the 2011 MWC regular-season title.
In 2010, BYU (46-13 overall, 12-3 MWC) registered its sixth consecutive 40-win season on the way to its fifth MWC regular-season title and sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cougars became the first MWC team to advance to an NCAA Super Regional. BYU head coach Gordon Eakin returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s MWC championship squad, including seven starters. Among the returning starters are 2010 all-MWC honorees Paige Affleck (three-year starting pitcher), Jessica Purcell-Fitu (catcher) and Kristin Delahoussaye (second base).
2011 MWC Preseason Poll
Team (1st place votes) Points
1. BYU (4) 24
2. San Diego State (2) 22
3. UNLV 15
4. Colorado State 13
5. Utah 11
6. New Mexico 5