Utah State Softball Prepares For Texas Invitational
Feb. 20, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State Aggies (0-10, 0-0 WAC) Texas Invitational - Austin, Texas Feb. 22-24
Feb. 22 Utah State vs. Lamar 10 a.m. (Longhorn Network) Utah State vs. Tulsa 1:30 p.m. (Longhorn Network) Feb. 23 Utah State vs. Texas 9:30 a.m. (Longhorn Network) Utah State vs. TBA 11 a.m. Feb. 24 Utah State vs. TBA 1 p.m.
QUICKLY - Utah State softball is looking forward as it prepares for weekend action in the Texas Invitational presented by Time Warner Cable, in Austin, Texas.
USU will open tournament action on Friday, Feb. 15 against Southland Conference opponent Lamar at 10 a.m. (MT). The second game of the day on Friday for the Aggies, will be a match-up with Conference-USA foe, Tulsa at 1:30 p.m. (MT).
Utah State will square off with No. 6 and host-Texas on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m. (MT). USU will not know its next opponent until tournament standings are finalized and semifinal games are set.
The Aggies will be nationally televised on the Longhorn Network in the their first three games of the Texas Invitational. The Longhorn Network is available on AT&T U-verse TV, Verizon FiOS TV, Grande Communications, Consolidated Communications, En-Touch Systems, E-Tex Communications, Bay City Cablevision, Mid-Coast Cablevision and Texas Mid-Gulf Cablevision. Longhorn Network is now available online to Verizon FiOS and Grande Communications subscribers at LonghornNetwork.com.
SERIES HISTORY - vs. Lamar - Utah State has never faced the Cardinals in softball. Lamar enters the Texas Invitational with a 3-4 record, coming off a loss to South Alabama, 8-0.
vs. Tulsa - The Golden Hurricane's hold a 2-1 series advantage in meetings against USU. Tulsa last met the Aggies in the Red Desert Classic in 2010, which the Hurricane's won, 8-1. Tulsa enters the weekend with a 7-3 record.
vs. Texas - This will be the first meeting between the Aggies and the Longhorns. The two teams were scheduled to play in 2005, however the game was cancelled due to inclement weather. Texas touts an impressive 11-0 record coming into this weekends action.
LEADING OFF - Leadoff hitter, junior infielder Kassandra Uchida has taken her role to heart by batting a team-leading .375 through the first 10 games. Uchida also has a team-high .500 on-base percentage and has drawn six walks. She also leads the team in total bases with nine.
POWER AT THE PLATE - The Aggies blasted their first-two home runs of the year last weekend in Tucson, Ariz. Ironically enough, both long balls were produced by starting pitchers. Senior Mandy Harmon drove a ball over the centerfield fence against Purdue. While freshman Noelle Johnson connected with a pitch, driving it down the leftfield line and over the fence against Southern Utah.
POW FROM CHOW - Freshman infielder Sarah Chow led the offense in last weeks Hillenbrand Invitational as Chow posted a .300 batting average. Producing three hits, scoring a run and collecting three total bases in five games.
HELPFUL HUNSAKER - Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker holds the second-highest batting average on the team, posting a .294 average through the first 10 games this season. Hunsaker is tied for the team lead with two doubles as well as the second-highest team slugging percentage .412.
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.
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.
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.
The Aggies starting pitching duo of Mandy Harmon and Noelle Johnson are leading the WAC in strikeouts per game. Harmon currently leads the conference in stikeouts per game with 8.46, while Johnson sits in second with a 7.28 average per game.
Harmon has tallied a total of 29 strikeouts this season, which is the third-best mark in the WAC. Once again, Johnson lands just behind Harmon with 26 strikeouts which is the fourth-highest in the conference.
Of Harmon's 29 strikeouts, 12 have come with batters striking out looking. Her 12 leads the WAC, just in front of San Jose State, starting pitcher Amanda Pridmore who currently has 11.
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 - The NFCA released its updated national standings on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. Utah State has faced or will face four nationally ranked teams this season.
USU was defeated by No. 4 Tennessee in the Red Desert Classic on Feb 8, 10-0 (5). Last weekend in the Hillenbrand Invitational, the Aggies were defeated by No. 14 Arizona, 13-1 (5) on Feb. 17.
Utah State will play two more ranked opponents this weekend as it squares off against No. 24 Tulsa on Feb. 22. Tulsa moved into the ranking this week and touts a 7-3 record entering this weekends Invitational.
USU also plays No. 6 Texas this weekend in Texas. The Longhorns are 10-0 this season and will play host to the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. The Aggies will meet the Longhorns on Saturday Feb. 23 at 11:30 a.m. (MT).
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.