March 27, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
March 29 *Utah State vs. NMSU 2 p.m. (MT) DH March 30 *Utah State vs. NMSU 4 p.m. (MT) * = WAC Game
QUICKLY - Utah State softball continues Western Athletic Conference action as it is set to take on New Mexico State in a home three-game weekend series. Action will open at LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field on Friday, March 29 with a doubleheader. First pitch is set to be delivered a 2 p.m. (MT).
Friday's action will be the season home opener for USU as the scheduled home opener against Utah on March 20 was rained out and rescheduled for April 16.
The Aggies will be led by senior infielder Christine Thomsen and senior pitcher Mandy Harmon. Thomsen is leading the team with a .350 batting average to go along with a team-leading .450 slugging percentage and .435 on-base percentage.
Harmon put together a strong outing last weekend against San Jose State in two games of work, posting a 2.10 ERA and allowing only six hits to the Spartans.
New Mexico State enters Friday's action with a 20-13 overall record and touts seven players with a .300 batting average or higher (Nakamura .429, Olive .393, Rodriguez .347, Dodd .333, Ramirez .333, Padilla .307, Conrad .303).
Leading the way in the circle for the crimson Aggies will be Alex Newman who has posted a 10-8 overall record to go along with a 2.42 ERA. Also in the circle for NMSU will be Celisha Walker who has a 3-1 season record and a 3.11 ERA.
Last weekend, the Aggies opened WAC play with a three-game series with first-place San Jose State. SJSU captured all three games of the series behind starting pitcher Amanda Pridmore, who posted a 0.70 ERA against Utah State hitters.
SERIES HISTORY - vs. New Mexico State - Friday's all Aggies match up will mark the 94th meeting between these two teams, with New Mexico State clinging to the all-time series lead, 47-46. The first meeting between the two teams came in 1976.
Last year in Las Cruces, N.M., New Mexico State won two of the three WAC games. NMSU took the opener on April 27, 2012, 4-1. Utah State responded with a 5-0 win in first game of a doubleheader on April 28, 2012. In the final game of the series, the crimson Aggies defeated USU, 7-1.
STRONG IN THE CIRCLE - Senior starting pitcher Mandy Harmon delivered from the circle last weekend against San Jose State. In two games the senior worked 10 innings of action, striking out nine, allowing six hits and three earned runs to the opportunistic Spartans.
For the season Harmon has a team-high 63 strikeouts and has worked four complete games this season.
CAPABLE KOONS - Utah State sophomore outfielder Jolene Koons produced a team-leading three-hits last weekend against San Jose State, posting a .333 batting average.
For the season, Koons has posted the third-highest batting average with a .246. She has produced 17 hits, two doubles and five RBI.
LEGGING IT OUT - Sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton recorded her third triple of the season on Friday, March 22 with a hard hit ball down the right field line scoring her teammate sophomore infielder Nicole Arata from first.
The sophomore leads her team in triples and is currently tied with two other players for the most triples in the WAC. Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker and junior infielder Becca Walker are the only other Utah State players to record a triple this season.
RETURNING TO FORM - Senior infielder Christine Thomsen is returning to form as the senior has been hampered by injury to start the season. Thomsen is leading the team in batting-average, posting a .350 average, to go along with a team-leading .450 slugging percentage and a team-best .435 on-base percentage.
Last season, Thomsen's .418 overall batting average was 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.
SAVE-ABLE SHELBI - Senior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca recorded her first save of the season against Idaho State on March 16, in the SpringHill Suites Invitational. It is also Tyteca's 10th career save which is the most in program history.
AGGIES IN THE WAC - Utah State softball has several players atop the WAC in several statistical categories.
Both starting pitchers for Utah State rank in the top-10 in the WAC in several categories. Senior pitcher Mandy Harmon and freshman pitcher Noelle Johnson are both in the top 10 for batters struckout and batter struckout looking.
Harmon has struckout 24 batters looking this season landing her with the third-most in the conference, while Johnson lands just behind Harmon with 14 batter struckout looking putting her with the 10r-th most in the conference.
Harmon has recorded 63 strikeouts which is good for seventh-best in the WAC. Johnson has recorded 59 total strikeouts this season, which is tied for the eighth most by a WAC pitcher.
Sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton has three triples this season, tying her for the most in the conference.
Two Utah State softball players garnered preseason honors from the WAC. The conference office announced the 2013 Preseason all-WAC team, as selected by the leagues eight coaches, which included USU's senior infielder Christine Thomsen as well as sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton.
EXTRA-ORDINARY - Utah State had its first extra-innings games of the season in the SpringHill Suite Invitational (Mar. 15-17), the first coming against host Boise State and the second in as many days versus Portland State. USU rallied to win both of the extra-inning games.
In their game against the Broncos, the Aggies rallied to score three runs in the top of the sixth-inning to take a 3-2 lead headed into the final frame. BSU responded with a single run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, sending into extras. Utah State came out on top, scoring two runs in the top of the eighth and holding Boise State's offense in check to take the game, 5-3.
Trailing by five runs to Portland State in the bottom of the seventh inning, USU rallied to score five runs in the final frame to force extra-innings. The Aggies capitalized on the opportunity, scoring the games winning run in the bottom of the eighth frame.
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 has three different colors of uniforms, including a set of Aggie Blue, Grey and White.
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, March 26, 2013. Utah State has faced five nationally ranked teams this season.
USU was defeated by No. 6 Tennessee in the Red Desert Classic on Feb 8, 10-0 (5). In the Hillenbrand Invitational, the Aggies were defeated by No. 17 Arizona, 13-1 (5) on Feb. 17. Utah State was also defeated, 9-0 (6), by this weeks No. 24 team, Nebraska.
USU also faced two more ranked teams in the Texas Invitational. The Aggies lost a pair of games to No. 19 Tulsa, dropping the first game on Feb. 22, 8-0 (5), and losing the second match-up on Feb. 23, 3-0.
Utah State also locked horns with No. 8 Texas in the Texas Invitational on Feb. 23, the Longhorns defeated USU, 13-2 (5).
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, sophomores Hailey Froton and 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 freshmen 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 continues to build a successful program on and off the field.
- 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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