Softball Release #1 - Aggies To Open Season at Arizona State Tournament
Feb. 17, 2004
Utah State Softball Release #1
Aggies To Open Season at Arizona State Tournament
Friday, Feb. 20 vs. Illinois State 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20 at #22 Arizona State 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. #19 Iowa 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. Wisconsin 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 at #22 Arizona State Noon
QUICKLY -- Utah State's softball team will open its 2004 season when it competes in Arizona State's Louisville Slugger Classic Friday-Sunday, Feb. 20-22... The Aggies will play five games in the three-day event, including three games against ranked teams... USU will meet Illinois State and host Arizona State (ranked 20th in the nation) on Friday before meeting Iowa (ranked 17th) and Wisconsin on Saturday. USU will then close the tournament with its second game against ASU on Sunday... USU is entering its third year under head coach Debbie Bilbao, who owns a 20-88 record at the Logan, Utah school... The Aggies return 10 letterwinners from last year's 8-40 team, which went 3-18 in the Big West and finished tied for eighth in the conference... The tournament is the first of three tournaments USU will play in this season... USU is on a one-game winning streak having won its 2003 season finale 6-3 at Cal Poly... USU has lost its last two season openers since starting the 2001 season with a 6-1 victory against Missouri. That year USU won two of its first three games as well as three of its first six contests.
USU AT THE LOUISVILLE SLUGGER -- As per usual, Utah State will open its season at Arizona State's Tournament. Last year the Aggies were 0-4 in the tournament, losing 9-0 to Iowa, 3-2 to Illinois State, 12-2 to Arizona State, and 2-0 to Illinois State.
USU VS. THE FIELD -- USU is 3-4 all-time against Illinois State and played ISU twice last year at this tournament The Redbirds won both meetings (3-2 in eight innings and 2-0) a year ago... USU is 10-20 all-time against Arizona State and lost last year's meeting at this tournament 12-2 in six innings. ASU was ranked 13th in the nation in that meeting... USU is 1-4 all-time against Iowa, USU head coach Debbie Bilbao's alma mater. Last year the two schools met twice with Iowa winning 9-0 in six innings in this tournament and 9-0 in five innings at the Capital Classic in Sacramento, Calif... USU is 0-3 all-time against Wisconsin and last met the Badgers in the 2002 season, losing 4-2 in Sacramento, Calif.
LATE START -- While Utah State will just be starting its season, three of the four opponents the Aggies will face have already started their seasons. Illinois State enters the tournament with a 4-2 record, while Arizona State is 10-5, and Wisconsin 2-3. Iowa had its season-opening tournament at Georgia State rained out and is 0-0 heading to Arizona. VS. RANKED TEAMS -- Utah State will play three games against ranked teams in this tournament and was 0-6 against ranked teams last year.
WHO IS BACK -- Utah State returns 10 letterwinners from last year's 8-40 team, including each of its top six hitters from a year ago. Among those are Candice Hatch, who led the team with a .298 average. Quela Henderson hit .292, while Amanda Carlson hit .286. Haven Vance hit .269 and Sara Fleming and Kelly Leos hit .250 and .246 respectively. Vance led the team in home runs with four, while Leos was second with three and Fleming had two. Vance also led the team in RBI with 16. USU returns both of its pitchers from last season in Leslie Higley, who was 6-21 with a 5.52 ERA and Carli Baumgartner, who was 2-19 with an 8.43 ERA.
2003 HONORS -- Two Aggies were named honorable mention all-Big West last season in Candice Hatch and Amanda Carlson, who both return this season. Hatch led USU in batting at .298. In conference games only, she hit .306, second on the team. Carlson, hit .286, third on the team overall. Her five doubles were second on the team and she was third in RBI with 11.
PROBABLE STARTERS -- Here is a look at USU's probable starters:
2003 2003 Pos. Name Yr. GP Avg. C Candice Hatch Jr. 26 .298 1B Kelly Leos Jr. 48 .246 2B Haven Vance Sr. 47 .269 3B Sara Fleming So. 37 .250 SS Quela Henderson So. 48 .292 LF Roxanne Ritchie Fr. -- -- CF Casey Smith Sr. 47 .157 RF Michelle Vlahos Jr. 11 .107
NOTE-ABLE -- Returnees Quela Henderson and Kelly Leos were the only two Aggies to both play and start in all 48 games last year... Haven Vance hit. 327 in Big West play (.269 overall) last year, while Candice Hatch also upped her average to .306 in league only games (.298 overall)... USU used only two pitchers last season and both were freshmen (Leslie Higley and Carli Baumgartner) and both return this year... USU's 2004 roster features seven freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and three seniors... USU will play its first 26 games away from Logan before opening the home season on April 3 with a doubleheader against Big West foe Cal State Fullerton... USU is slated to play five opponents, that are ranked in the current top 25 a total of 11 times this year. Oregon State is ranked 18th, Iowa 19th, Cal State Fullerton 20th, Oregon 21st, and Arizona State 22nd. In addition, USU will also meet Pacific, Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge, which all received votes in the Feb. 17th poll... Lonny Sargent joined the USU staff as an assistant coach this season coming to Logan from Troy State.
DID YOU KNOW? -- USU head coach Debbie Bilbao is tied for sixth place on Iowa's home run leaders list with 14 in her career from 1995-97. When she finished her playing time at Iowa, she was second behind only Brandi Macias, who hit 17 from 1994-97.
USU SCHEDULE/RESULTS (0-0, 0-0 Big West)
F 20-22 at Arizona State Tournament Feb. 20 vs. Illinois State 9 a.m. Feb. 20 at #22 Arizona State 4 p.m. Feb. 21 vs. #19 Iowa 9 a.m. Feb. 21 vs. Wisconsin 11 a.m. Feb. 22 at #22 Arizona State Noon