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Softball faces slate of winnable matchups on West Coast

Coming off its first win of the season last week, the softball team will spend its spring break playing 13 games against six different teams in its annual trip to California over the course of nine days. The Tigers (1-6) will start off facing San Jose State and Santa Clara University in San Jose, Calif., in the San Jose State Tournament. Afterward, they head to Sacramento to play Sacramento State in a double header on March 18th, then to Stockton to play the University of the Pacific in double-header on the 19th. They wind down their road trip playing in the Santa Clara Tournament, with games against Santa Clara and Grand Canyon University on the 21st, Cal and Grand Canyon on the 22nd, and Cal again on the 23rd, all at Santa Clara.

Princeton won its first game of the season last weekend against the University of Hartford by a score of 4-1, led by freshman outfielder Marissa Reynolds who smacked a two-out grand slam in the third inning, the team’s first grand slam this season. The Tigers are off to a slow start, after their 27-19 record last year. The Princeton team has 19 players, five of whom are freshmen, and 17 of whom started in at least one game this season.

Junior Rachel Rendina came into the season leading the team with 50 hits and a .350 batting average last season. So far this season, Rendina has had five hits with two RBIs and one scored run. All four pitchers on the Tigers have thrown at least nine innings this season. Shanna Christian has led the pitching staff at 1-2 with an opposing batting average of .255 and an ERA of 3.07 in 13.2 innings. Last year, Christian was 5-1 in Ivy League games, having struck out nine batters in one game and pitched a one-hit shutout in another.

The San Jose State Spartans (11-10) are on a 0-5 slide, having lost 5 games last weekend at the Judi Garman Classic against three top-20 opponents. The Spartans displayed a strong offense, scoring in every game, but coming up short defensively, committing 12 errors over those five games. The Spartans have a .298 batting average, and Sophomore Jessie Hufstetler has the Mountain West’s highest batting average (.466) and on base percentage (.608).

The Santa Clara Broncos (3-14) won two games last weekend at the Cal Poly Mustang Classic, but also lost five games at the Judi Garman Classic. The Broncos have a solid defense and offense, winning their two games last weekend by a margin of six and eight runs against Fairleigh Dickinson University and SUNY Stony Brook, respectively.

The Sacramento State Hornets (8-12) have lost their last six games, including two consecutive games against Nevada, their longest losing streak since 2010. Sacramento State has had problems with their pitching with starter Taylor Stroud giving up 10 hits in the first five innings against Nevada in the first of the two games and starter Jennifer Hartman yielding five walks in the second.

Pacific (6-8) will play Princeton after coming off a sweep of the Libby Matson Tournament and an impressive win against Hawaii, the 2013 Big West Champions. Taylor Petty leads both the Pacific Tigers and the West Coast Conference with a .431 batting average and .567 on base percentage.

Grand Canyon (11-12) and Cal (10-10) will be playing each other in two games before facing off against the Tigers. Cal won its opening home game this past weekend against Ohio State. The Golden Bears managed a no-hitter until the top of the 5th in their victory.

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