Utah State Softball Set To Open Season In Red Desert Classic On Friday
Junior Catcher Samantha Miller

Feb. 7, 2013

LOGAN, Utah -

Utah State Aggies (0-0, 0-0 WAC) Red Desert Classic - St. George, Utah Feb. 8-10, 2013

Feb. 8 Utah State vs. No. 6 Tennessee 1:30 p.m. Utah State vs. Colorado State 4 p.m. Feb. 9 Utah State vs. LMU 11 a.m. Utah State @ Southern Utah 1:30 p.m. Feb. 10 Utah State vs. South Dakota 1:30 p.m.

QUICKLY - Utah State softball has it's bags packed and is ready to head south to open its 2013 campaign. USU will travel to St. George, Utah to play in the Red Desert Classic at the Canyons Complex, which features 15 teams from around the country. The Aggies will play five games in three days, while in Utah's Dixie, leading off against Southeastern Conference powerhouse No. 6 Tennessee and concluding with South Dakota.

Utah State will get the season underway against Tennessee on Friday, Feb. 8 at 1:30 p.m. The Volunteers finished the 2012 season with a 52-14 record as well as finishing the season ranked sixth in the USA Today/NFCA final poll.

Closing out Friday's action, USU will square off against future Mountain West Conference foe Colorado State at 4 p.m. (MT). The Aggies will be seeking revenge in Saturday's slated games as they take on two opponents who handed Utah State losses last season in Loyola Marymount and in-state rival Southern Utah. Saturday's first game against LMU is slated for a 11 a.m. (MT) start followed by the SUU games getting under way at 1:30 p.m. (MT). Concluding USU's Red Desert Classic schedule will be a game against South Dakota on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 1:30 p.m. (MT).

SERIES HISTORY - vs. Tennessee - The Lady Volunteers hold a 2-0 all-time advantage over the Aggies. In the last meeting of these two teams in 2009, which ironically was Utah State's season opener in the Red Desert Classic, the Vols defeated USU, 11-3.

vs. Colorado State - The Aggies hold a 28-18 (.609) advantage in the series history between these two teams. In the last meeting in 2010, current Utah State standout senior Christine Thomsen knocked one hit and had two RBI to help lead the Rams to a 5-3 victory over USU.

vs. Loyola Marymount - The Lions have yet to surrender a win to the Aggies in five match-ups, as LMU holds a 5-0 mark all-time against Utah State. Last season, Loyola Marymount handed USU a 5-1 on March 12 in Los Angeles, Calif.

vs. Southern Utah - Utah State has had a successful past when facing in-state foe SUU, holding a 58-19 advantage in the all-time series. However, last season the Thunderbirds defeated USU in a doubleheader played in St. George, taking the first game with a 9-3 score and followed it up with a 7-2 victory.

vs. South Dakota - This will be the first meeting between these two schools. The Coyotes finished last season with a 16-39 overall record and finished sixth in the Summit League with a 12-12 conference mark.

NEW THREADS - Utah State softball will be donning new uniforms embroidered with the new U-State logo as well as new batting helmets. The team will have three different colors of uniforms, including a set of Aggie Blue, Pewter and White. The new uniforms arrived days before USU takes the field for the first time this season.

LEADING THE WAY - USU will look to its five seniors to help lead this years squad. Returning for their senior seasons in 2013 will be utility player Katie Bowdidge, designated hitter Kali Cancelosi, pitcher Mandy Harmon, infielder Christine Thomsen and pitcher Shelbi Tyteca.

COLOSSAL CHRISTINE - Senior infielder Christine Thomsen put together one of the best single-season outings in Utah State softball program history. The standout first baseman tied for the highest batting average in the WAC in the 2012 season, posting a .418 overall average as well as a .426 average in conference.

Thomsen's .418 overall batting average is the second best ever posted in program history, falling just short of the .435 batting average posted by Stephanie Green in 1977.

Thomsen's offensive onslaught earned her national recognition as she was named a 2012 Easton second-team All-American.

SENIOR STANDOUTS IN THE CIRCLE - Senior pitchers Mandy Harmon and Shelbi Tyteca have put together eye catching careers in the circle as Aggies and look to continue to build on that success in 2013.

Harmon has been able to work a lot of innings in her career, pitching in 371.1 innings in three-years. Harmon will undoubtably move into the Utah State record books for innings pitched this season.

Harmon has already worked her way into record book for strikeouts, as she has fanned 265 batters, which is the eighth most in Aggie softball history. Harmon has the chance to move up on that list as the seventh ranked player, Kristie Skogland, totaled 315 strikeouts in her career.

Also laying claim to program records is fellow senior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca who is currently the all-time saves leader in program history, having recorded nine saves in her career. Tyteca also recorded a single-season saves record five saves last season.

Tyteca has struckout 206 batters in her career, which also lands her on the all-time career strikeouts top-ten list. Her 206 strikeouts rank her 10th. AGGIES IN THE WAC - Two Utah State softball players garnered preseason honors from the WAC. The conference office announced the 2013 Preseason all-WAC team, as selected by leagues eight coaches, which included USU's senior infielder Christine Thomsen as well as sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton.

Thomsen, who proved to be one of the biggest offensive threats in the WAC her junior season posted a league-leading .418 batting average to go along with only seven strikeouts last season. The senior will continue to pack the punch for the middle of the Aggie offense in 2013. Thomsen led her squad in hits, runs and total bases last season.

Froton came on strong late last season for Utah State, as she put together a head-turning freshman campaign. Froton registered a .274 batting average last season, which was the third-highest by a USU player. The outfielder will look to continue to progress and help her squad offensively. Froton also crushed the second-most long balls for the Aggie offense, finishing the season with six.

NEW FACES IN THE WAC - The WAC added four teams for the 2013 softball season, Seattle University, UT Arlington, UTSA and Texas State. Utah State will square off against UTSA and Texas State for the first time in program history this season. USU defeated Seattle U in the 2010 season to hold a 1-0 series advantage over SU. The Aggies likewise hold a 1-0 series advantage against UT Arlington, defeating the Mavericks in 1989.

PRESEASON WAC COACHES POLL - Utah State was picked to finished sixth in the preseason coaches poll. In a preseason vote of the Western Athletic Conference softball coaches, league newcomer Texas State edged out San Jose State by one point to win the 2013 WAC preseason crown.

The Bobcats took the top spot in the preseason poll with 43 points and five first-place votes, just ahead of the Spartans sin second place with 42 points and two first-place votes. New Mexico State was third with 39 points and one first-place vote. UTSA came in fourth place with 30 points, followed by Louisiana Tech in fifth with 22 points and USU in sixth with 20 points. UT Arlington and Seattle U rounded out the poll with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

2013 Preseason Softball Coaches Poll
 Rank Teams (1st-Place Votes) Points
 1. Texas State (5)		43
 2. San Jose State (2) 		42
 3. New Mexico State (1) 	39
 4. UTSA 		        30
 5. Louisiana Tech 		22
 6. Utah State		        20
 7. UT Arlington 		15
 8. Seattle U 		        13

AGGIES MATCHING UP AGAINST THE BEST - Utah State will face three preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25 teams this season. USU will open the season against the highest-ranked opponent it will face this season in Tennessee, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the preseason polls.

The Aggies will also square off against preseason No. 7 Texas in the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas on Feb. 23. Utah State will also travel to Tucson, Arizona for the Hilldenbrand Invitational, which is hosted by No. 13 Arizona. USU will square off with the Wildcats next weekend, Feb. 17 to conclude its action in the Hilldenbrand Invitational.

Utah State will also face two teams who are on the fringe of being in the Top-25, as in-state foe BYU received four votes to be included in the Top-25. USU hosts the Cougars April, 10 at Johnson Field. Tulsa also received two votes in the preseason poll. The Aggies will face the Golden Hurricanes on Feb. 22 at the Texas Invitational in Austin.

LASER LEVELED - Utah State softball took time this off season to upgrade and improve LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field's infield playing surface by bringing in fresh red dirt and laser leveling the entire infield. Johnson Field's backstop and windscreens are also set to get a face lift before the first home game set to take place March 13, against in-state rival Weber State.

START OF SEASON 38 - The 2013 season marks the 38th year of softball at Utah State, the Aggies enter the season with a 834-984-3 (.458) overall record. USU has one college World Series appearance (1984, tied for 7th) and four NCAA Tournament appearances (1984, 1989, 1992, 1993). Utah State won the 1980 and 1981 AIAW National Championships. This is USU's eighth and final year in the WAC.

TIDBITS ABOUT UTAH STATE - - Utah State is returning eight starters including the majority of its offensive punch in senior Christine Thomsen, junior Kassnadra Uchida, sophomore Hailey Froton and sophomore Jolene Koons

- The Aggie infield will bring experience and athleticism into the 2013 season. At first will be senior Christine Thomsen and settling in at the opposite corner will be junior Allison Lenzora. Manning the middle with be Fresno State transfer junior Becca Walker at short stop and outfielder turned infielder, junior Kassandra Uchida at second.

- Utah State bolstered its roster by bringing in seven new additions to the 2013 roster. Of the incoming players, four are freshman and three are transfers from other schools.

- 2013 will be USU's final season in the Western Athletic Conference before moving to the Mountain West for the 2014 softball season. The Aggies have gone 30-105 in conference games over the past seven season in the WAC.

KALABA TIDBITS - - Carissa Kalaba hired two new assistant coaches this offseason, Chelsea Butler and Britne Stubbs.

- During her tenure at Biola, she compiled an overall record of 143-93 (.606 winning percentage), averaging just under 29 wins per year.

- During her third seasons at Utah State, Kalaba has sought to build a successful program and in her fourth season at the helm of USU she will seek to guide her 2013 squad to a WAC farewell championship.

- Under Kalaba, 14 players earned academic all-WAC honors in her three years as head coach of the Aggie softball team.

- After transferring from Hofstra University, Kalaba played two seasons at UCLA where the Bruins won the Women's College World Series title in 1999.

- Carissa Kalaba (Cal-uh-ba) comes to Utah State after five seasons as the head coach at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif... While at Biola, Kalaba led the Eagles to five-straight playoff appearances, the longest streak in the program's 17-year history... Her teams also finished no lower than fifth in the tough Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC), posting an overall mark of 59-61... During her tenure at Biola, she compiled an overall record of 143-93 (.606 winning percentage), averaging just under 29 wins per year.

- The former Carissa Millsap is married to Joe Kalaba, who is taking on a new role this season as a softball operations manager while attending school.

- Carissa Kalaba enters her fourth season at Utah State and will continue to build a successful program.

- Assistant Coach Chelsea Butler comes to Utah State via Eastern Kentucky University, where she filled the role of assistant coach for the Colonels under head coach Jane Worthington. Last season was Butler's first season as an assistant coach, helping guide EKU to a 27-30 overall record and a 16-13 conference record for the 2012 season. Butler will be working with the Utah State pitchers.

- Assistant Coach Britne Stubbs will bring five years of head coaching experience to the USU coaching staff, having spent the last five seasons at Brevard College as the head softball coach. Stubbs also served as the Senior Woman Administrator at Brevard College, providing a female voice and perspective on key issues and serving as a role model for diversity.



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