Feb. 13, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
USU will leadoff the invitational Friday, Feb. 15 with another match-up with in-state foe Southern Utah, who took last weekends Red Desert Classic meeting, 4-1. Game time against SUU is set for 11 a.m. (MT). The Aggies will then square-off with BIG 10 opponent Purdue at 1 p.m. (MT).
In the second day of action Utah State will see another BIG 10 opponent in Nebraska, first pitch is set for 9 a.m. (MT). USU will conclude Saturday's play with its first ever meeting with Drake which is scheduled to get underway at 11 a.m. (MT).
In the final game of the five-game set, the Aggies will lock horns with its second USA Today/NFCA ranked opponent of the season as they take No. 16 Arizona. Sunday's action is set to start at 1 p.m. (MT).
SERIES HISTORY - vs. Southern Utah - The Aggies are now 58-20 all-time against the Thunderbirds including last weeks 4-1 loss to Southern Utah in the Red Desert Classic. It will be the second meeting between these two teams this season and they will meet again on April 17 in Logan, Utah.
vs. Purdue - Utah State last faced the Boilermakers in 2004, a meeting that Purdue took, 4-0. USU currently hold a 3-1 series advantage. The Boilers enter this weekends action with a 2-3 overall record.
vs. Nebraska - Utah State trails the Corn Huskers, 3-7, in the all-time series. USU last saw Nebraska in 2006, a game in which the Huskers won, 7-1, in Tempe, Ariz., on Feb. 11. The Huskers enter this weekends action with a perfect 5-0 record. Last weekend, Nebraska defeated WAC-foe New Mexico State (5-1) as well as the University of New Mexico (11-0) both of whom the Aggies matches up with this season.
vs. Drake - Saturday's game will be the first meeting between these two teams. The Bulldogs entire the Hillenbrand Invitational with a 4-1 overall record on the young season.
vs. No. 16 Arizona - Utah State will close out weekend play against Arizona. The Wildcats hold a 18-10 advantage in the all-time series against USU. The Aggies last faced Arizona in 2011, a game in which the Wildcats won, 11-3. That game was also part of the Hillenbrand Invitational in 2011. LEADING OFF - Leadoff hitter, junior infielder Kassandra Uchida has taken her role to heart by batting a team-leading .500 through the first five games. Uchida also has a team-high .643 on-base percentage and has drawn four walks.
FORCEFUL FRESHMAN - Freshman pitcher Noelle Johnson found her groove in the final game of the Red Desert Classic as the freshman pitcher entered the South Dakota game in the top of the fifth inning. From that point forward the freshman did not surrender a hit and struck out five. Johnson currently has the lowest ERA on the team (3.23), as well as a team leading 13 strikeouts.
Johnson also knocked a double that scored two runs to help fuel a late innings rally against South Dakota.
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.
HELPFUL HUNSAKER - Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker helped lift the offensive load during the Red Desert Classic by producing two hits and scoring two runs in the four games she appeared in.
TAKING THE REINS - USU will look to its five seniors to help lead this year's 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 in 2012. The standout first baseman tied for the highest batting average in the WAC, 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.
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.
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 record with five saves last season.
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.
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 in 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 opened the season against No. 4 Tennessee in the Red Desert Classic. The Lady Vols handed the Aggies their first loss of the season, 10-0 (5).
Utah State will also square off against No. 6 Texas in the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas on Feb. 23. Utah State will also travel to Tucson, Arizona for the Hilldenbrand Invitational this weekend, which is hosted by No. 16 Arizona. USU will face the Wildcats Feb. 17 to conclude its action in the Hilldenbrand Invitational on Sunday.
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 20, against in-state rival Utah.
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 in 2013. 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.
- 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 three 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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