Play Ball! Arizona opener on deck for new-look Aggies

Feb. 7, 2018

ON DECK…
UC Davis at Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State
Fri.-Sun., Feb. 9-11, 2018
Farrington Stadium & Tempe Sports Complex
Phoenix, Ariz.
Tournament Central

FOLLOW ALONG…
Feb. 9 vs. South Dakota, 5 p.m. — Live Video ($)
Feb. 10 vs. #12/11 Tennessee, 9:15 a.m. — Listen | Live Stats | Live Video ($)
Feb. 10 vs. #7/7 Arizona, 11:45 a.m. — Live Stats
Feb. 11 vs. UTEP, 11:30 a.m. — Live Video ($)
Feb. 11 vs. (RV) San Diego State, 2 p.m. — Live Video ($)

PLAY BALL!: Celebrating a half-century of softball on campus, the new-look UC Davis softball team finally opens its regular season this weekend in the “Grand Canyon State,” heading to Phoenix, Ariz., to participate in the 2018 Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State beginning Friday (Feb. 9) and running through the weekend at the Sun Devils’ Farrington Stadium and the nearby Tempe Sports Complex.

The Aggies open with an evening match-up against South Dakota on Friday at 5 p.m., before taking on three nationally recognized programs in their next four contests over the following two days. UC Davis meets No. 12/11 Tennessee and No. 7/7 Arizona in back-to-back contests on Saturday (Feb. 10) beginning at 9:15 a.m., before closing out its stay with games against UTEP and San Diego State — the latter receiving 12 votes in the USA Today / NFCA preseason poll — on Sunday (Feb. 11) beginning at 11:30 a.m.

IN THE POLLS: Opening weekend will see the Aggies take on a pair of nationally ranked teams in Tennessee, ranked No. 12 by the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and Arizona, a consensus No. 7 in the nation, while also taking on San Diego State, which is receiving votes in the NFCA preseason poll. In all, UC Davis is scheduled to face three teams ranked among the top 25 in both preseason polls, as well as four others among those receiving votes in one or both of the rankings.

CAN’T MAKE THE TRIP?: Four of the Aggies’ five games (all but Saturday’s game against No. 7 Arizona) will be streamed live online at FloSoftball.com, a subscription-based site that will broadcast a majority of the games from the Kajikawa Classic this weekend. For more information and a complete schedule for this weekend’s broadcasts, visit them online at https://www.flosoftball.com/events/6050952-kajikawa-classic-2018/schedule.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE AGGIES: UC Davis returns 13 letter winners, four position starters, and three pitchers, off of last season’s squad that finished 22-32 overall and 7-14 in the Big West Conference a season ago… Of the 22-woman roster, nine newcomers are featured (more on that later)… Having lost their top four hitters from last season, the offense is led by senior Ashley Lotoszynski, who leads all returners with a .259 average to go with 32 runs scored, 10 doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI… Her 32 runs were second on the team, while her 10 doubles, five home runs, and 30 RBI, all either led or co-led the team in 2017 en route to All-Big West honorable mention honors… Sophomore right-hander Katie Kibby returns for her second season in the circle for the Aggies after posting a 15-9 overall record and a 3.33 ERA in 166 innings… She finished with 80 strikeouts and held opponents to a .259 average on the year, picking up Big West honorable mention and All-Freshman Team laurels.

SCOUTING THE COYOTES: After finishing 22-32 overall and 10-8 in Summit League play, South Dakota returns its top five hitters off of last season’s squad, but will have to reload in the circle after having lost three pitchers that accounted for all 54 starts a season ago… Six newcomers (four freshmen, a redshirt freshman, and a junior college transfer) will look to fill the void in the circle… Junior catcher Jessica Rogers paces the offense after batting .346 with nine doubles, four home runs, and 28 RBI, last season — one of seven regulars that hit better than .300 on the year for the Coyotes… Senior infielder Emily Winckler led the team with 14 doubles, six home runs, and 40 RBI, while batting .336 last year.

SCOUTING THE LADY VOLS: Picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference according to a vote of the league’s coaches, Tennessee is fresh off a 48-12 season that saw the Lady Vols reach their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament and their ninth Super Regional, returning 17 letter winners… The Lady Vols return five players that earned all-conference honors and eight of their top 10 hitters from a season ago… Tennessee’s offense is paced by senior infielder Meghan Gregg, the defending SEC Player of the Year and a top-three finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, who set the school single-season record with 79 RBI (good for second in the nation) while batting .437 with 15 home runs… Junior right-hander Matty Moss (26-3, 1.76) and sophomore right-hander Caylan Arnold (20-9, 2.01) each won 20 games in the circle last season, the former posting a team-high 193 strikeouts, and the latter holding opponents to a team-best .181 average against.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Arizona returns 12 letter winners and six starters off of last season’s squad that finished 52-9 overall, claimed its 11th Pacific-12 Conference title, and advanced to its 12th NCAA Super Regional… 2017 All-American infielder Jessie Harper paces the returners on offense after hitting .333 with 13 doubles, 19 home runs, and 56 RBI, while helping the Wildcats outscore their opposition, 441-99, on the year… Junior left-hander Taylor McQuillin is the only returner in the circle for 2018, posting a 16-4 overall record and a 1.92 ERA while striking out 159 in 120.1 innings and holding opponents to a .192 average.

SCOUTING THE MINERS: UTEP returns 13 letter winners, eight starters in the field, and a pair of starters in the circle, off of last season’s squad that finished 12-36 overall and 6-18 in Conference USA for sixth place in the West Division… Junior infielder Cortney Smith leads the returners on offense after batting .364 with 26 runs scored, nine doubles, a team-high eight home runs, and 22 RBI… She was one of six players to hit better than .300 on the year… Sophomore right-hander Devyn Cretz led the team in wins last season (five) and struck out 42 batters in 61 innings.

SCOUTING THE AZTECS: San Diego State is coming off a season that saw the Aztecs post a 31-18 overall record and a 15-9 mark in the Mountain West Conference, leading the nation with a .356 average as a team, while setting seven school records on offense… SDSU returns 13 letter winners, seven position starters, and three pitchers, off of last year’s squad, while welcoming 10 newcomers into the fold… Senior All-American catcher Jenavee Peres leads the returners on offense after batting .454 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI, headlining a group of four more Aztecs who earned NFCA All-West Region honors… Sophomore right-hander Marissa Moreno leads the way in the circle after posting a 12-6 overall record and a 3.57 ERA in 96 innings, striking out 59 on the year.

SERIES RECORDS: UC Davis is unbeaten against its season-opening opponent, posting a 2-0 mark against South Dakota thanks to back-to-back victories in 2016 by the scores of 11-10 and 11-1 at home… The Aggies have yet to beat Tennessee in three all-time meetings, but the two teams haven’t met since the 2008 Cathedral City Classic… Saturday’s meeting with Arizona marks only the second all-time between UC Davis and Wildcats, with Arizona posting an 8-0 win at the 2012 Judi Garman Classic… The Aggies have taken two of the three all-time meetings with UTEP, the last coming in 2013 when UC Davis posted a 5-3 win over the Miners at a tournament in Fresno… San Diego State leads the all-time series with the Aggies, 6-0, with the last meeting ending in a 5-4 nailbiter at the 2017 San Diego Classic.

LID-LIFTERS: Since their Division I debut in the 2008 season, the Aggies are 6-4 in season-opening games, winning three of their last five, including a 2-1 win over Santa Clara on the road to kick-off the 2017 campaign… UC Davis won its first three season openers at the Division I level fro 2008-10 with victories over Utah State, Liberty, and Kent State, and also own season-opening wins over Southern Miss (2013) and Arkansas (2014)… The Aggies hold a, 47-30, scoring advantage in their previous 10 regular season openers, including a pair of 10-run wins in 2008 and 2010… Each of the team’s last six openers have been decided by two runs or fewer — including the last two by a single run.

"HELLO, MY NAME IS…": Name tags may be a new feature of the Aggies’ jerseys this season as nearly half of the team’s 2018 roster will be made up of newcomers, as nine of the team’s 22 players will be new to the program this season — eight true freshmen and one transfer. The eight freshmen are the most of any team in the Big West this season — and the most for an Aggie roster since the 2014 squad had the same number — while the nine newcomers are the fourth-most in the league behind Hawai’i (12), Long Beach State (11), and CSUN (10).

"LOTO" NUMBERS: The only senior on the Aggies’ roster for 2018, infielder Ashley Lotoszynski is approaching a few program milestones entering her final collegiate season. The agriculture and environmental education major enters her final collegiate season just three doubles and a trio of home runs shy of Amy Nunez’s career Division I marks of 29 and 14, respectively, and two RBI back of Christa Castello’s Division I record (72) set last season. She also needs just one double and three home runs of the all-time top 10s.

NICE START: A stellar debut season by sophomore managerial economics major Katie Kibby led to one of the best campaigns by an Aggie pitcher in the last five years. Kibby’s 15 wins, 166 innings, six shutouts, 80 strikeouts, and 16 complete games, were the most since Justine Vela’s standout 2013 season when she led the team with 15 wins, 172.2 innings, seven shutouts, 17 complete games, and 175 strikeouts.

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: The Aggies will meet four teams for the very first time this season beginning with a clash against Oklahoma State on Feb. 24 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. UC Davis will also host first-time opponents Northern Colorado and Valparaiso at the Aggie Invitational from March 8-12, and will host Fairleigh Dickinson twice at the co-hosted NorCal Challenge at La Rue Field on March 16-18.

TITANS PICKED TO REPEAT IN BIG WEST COACHES POLL: Defending Big West champion Cal State Fullerton was picked to repeat as Big West champions in 2018 according to a vote of the league’s head coaches, receiving four of the eight available first-place votes and 57 points overall to edge Long Beach State, which received three first-place votes and 53 points. CSUN (43) and Hawai’i (32) were next in third and fourth, respectively, while UC Riverside (31) — which picked up the remaining first-place vote — and Cal Poly (31) tied for fifth. UC Santa Barbara (29) and UC Davis (12) rounded out the poll.

A GEM OF A DIAMOND: Having undergone a complete face-lift since the end of the 2017 season, the Aggies hit the dirt at the renovated La Rue Field for the first time on Feb. 2, 2018, officially breaking in the new home of UC Davis softball. The multi-million dollar project is funded, in large part, by donations to the Marya Welch Initiative for Women’s Athletics — established to raise awareness and financial support for UC Davis’ 14 NCAA women’s sports.

Construction began in early October with the entire field being razed along with the metal bleachers and dugouts. In its place, a laser graded field featuring upgraded drainage and fresh sod in the outfield, along with new dugouts, renovated bullpens, and a concrete backstop with netting behind home plate to improve sightlines for fans. A new scoreboard has been added beyond the right-field fence and the entire field is scheduled to be wrapped in updated graphics and branding in line with the other home facilities, bringing with it a new level of “Aggie Pride.”

Home of the Aggies since the late 1980's, La Rue Field was recognized as the "Softball Field of the Year" by the Sports Turf Managers Association in 1999 and has hosted six NCAA Division II West Region tournaments from 1994-02.

For more information on the Marya Welch Initiative for Women’s Athletics, or to make a contribution, visit us online at https://give.ucdavis.edu/ATHG/324041.

SAAC COIN DRIVE
Support the UC Davis Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Yolo County SPCA during the month of February as the Aggies hold their 11th annual coin drive at all home events. For the fourth year in a row, Big West Conference institutions will donate 100 percent of the funds raised to their designated charities, with the top three fundraising SAAC’s receiving a cash prize toward their SAAC budget. Over the last 10 years, conference members have combined to raise nearly $197,000.

ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.

PACK THE PAVILION!
Season and single-game tickets for UC Davis men's and women's basketball are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at UCDavisAggies.com.