Softball makes its home debut with Aggie Invitational

March 6, 2018

ON DECK…
UC Davis (11-7) hosts 2018 Aggie Invitational
Thurs.-Mon., March 8-12, 2018 | La Rue Field | Davis, Calif.
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/18-aggie-invitational.html
PARTICIPATING TEAMS: UC Davis, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Utah State, Valparaiso

FOLLOW ALONG…
March 8 vs. Nevada, 12:30 p.m. — Live Stats
March 8 vs. Utah State, 3 p.m. — Live Stats
March 9 vs. Northern Colorado, 3:15 p.m. — Live Stats
March 10 vs. Utah State, 11 a.m. — Live Stats
March 10 vs. Valparaiso, 3:15 p.m. — Live Stats
March 11 vs. Valparaiso, 3 p.m. — Live Stats
March 12 vs. Northern Colorado, 3 p.m. — Live Stats

PLAY BALL!: Home, sweet home! After playing its first 18 games of the regular season away from the friendly confines of Davis, Calif., the UC Davis softball team (11-7 overall) finally gets to unpack its bags and enjoy the comforts of home, hosting four other schools for the five-day, 13-game, 2018 Aggie Invitational at the newly renovated La Rue Field. The tournament opens with a pair of games on Thursday (March 8) beginning at 12:30 p.m., and runs through Monday with a single game at 3 p.m. Along the way, the Aggies — who have won eight of their last 11 overall — will play a total of seven games over that five-day stretch.

TICKETS, PLEASE: Single-day and tournament passes for this week’s Aggie Invitational are available for purchase from the UC Davis athletics ticket office and online at UCDavisAggies.com. A tournament pass is available for $25, with a youth (3-13) and senior (65+) pass available for $20. Day passes are also available for $10 for adults for the first four days of the tournament, and $8 for the final day.

CAN’T MAKE THE TRIP?: For those fans unable to make the trip to La Rue Field this week, live stats will be available for every game of this weekend's tournament. Links are available above and on the the tournament central page at http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/18-aggie-invitational.html.

IN THE POLLS: None of this week’s teams are ranked in the top 25 polls. UC Davis has, however, played five games against four teams that were featured among the top 25 (Tennessee, Arizona, California, and Oklahoma State) and played two more that were among those receiving votes in either or both national polls at the time of the game.

HOME, SWEET HOME: This week’s event begins a run that will see the Aggies play 11 of their next 12 contests at La Rue Field (with the only outlier in that stretch a Causeway Cup clash at Sacramento State on March 17) leading up to the start of Big West Conference play at CSUN on March 30.

SCOUTING THE WOLF PACK: Nevada enters this week’s tournament with a 10-10 overall record following a 4-1 showing at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah… The Wolf Pack posted wins over Weber State, Utah Valley, and Southern Utah (twice), while falling to Montana in the finale… Sophomore infielder Kenzi Goins leads the offense, batting .404 on the year with 18 runs scored, a pair of home runs, and 12 RBI… Senior outfielder Erika Hansen has also supplied the power, batting .404 with six home runs and 21 RBI, leading the team in the latter two categories… Freshman right-hander Julia Jensen leads Nevada in the circle with a 6-4 record and a 3.12 ERA in 14 appearances, striking out 68 in 74 innings.

SCOUTING THE AGGIES: Utah State enters the week at 7-7 overall following a 4-1 showing at the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Tournament… The Aggies will take on Pacific on Wednesday (March 7) before heading to Davis, Calif., for five games… Junior Bailey Lewis is hitting .440 in 11 games to pace the offense, which is hitting .337 as a team over 14 games… Senior Amee Aarhus and freshman Leah Molina are also batting above .400 for the year, hitting .422 and .408, respectively… Sophomore Riley Plogger has slugged five home runs and driven in a team-high 15… Freshman right-hander Delaney Hull (3-1, 3.00) and sophomore right-hander Kellie White (3-2, 3.13) lead the staff, with the former holding opponents to a team-low .207 average and the latter striking out a team-high 27 batters.

SCOUTING THE BEARS: Northern Colorado enters the week with a 10-11 overall record and is coming off a 2-3 record at the Razorback Invitational hosted by Arkansas in Fayetteville… The Bears posted wins over Central Connecticut State and Dartmouth over the weekend… Senior infielder Lauren Paige leads the way at the plate, batting .321 overall with a home run and five RBI… Junior catcher Jordyn Wiatrak is batting .311 while leading the team with two home runs and 14 RBI… Junior right-hander Valerie Vidal paces the squad in the circle, posting a 7-4 record with a 2.10 ERA in 13 appearances, striking out 55 in 73.1 innings and holding opponents to a .214 average.

SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS: Valparaiso enters the tournament with a 9-4 overall record after posting a 3-1 record at the Lopes Up Classic hosted by Grand Canyon… The Crusaders will take on the host ‘Lopes in a doubleheader on Tuesday (March 6) before heading to Northern California… Junior infielder Jaymee Lawton leads the regulars with a .425 average, four home runs, and 21 RBI, while teammates Taylor Lawson (.425) and Jenna Stauffenberg (.414) are also hitting better than .400 on the year… Senior right-hander Kenzie Grossmann leads the way in the circle with a 5-1 record and a 1.43 ERA, striking out 26 in 34.1 innings, while sophomore right-hander Emily Richardson is 2-0 with a team-best 0.69 ERA in seven appearances, striking out 22 in 20.1 innings and holding opponents to a .114 average.

SERIES RECORDS: Nevada leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 22-12… The series between the Aggies of UC Davis and the Aggies of Utah State is knotted at two wins apiece… Friday’s meeting with Northern Colorado will be the first between the two programs in softball, as will Sunday’s meeting with Valparaiso.

TOURNEY TIME: In head coach Erin Thorpe’s previous three seasons, the Aggies are a combined 18-9 in home tournaments, posting a 10-5 mark in four home tournaments in 2016 and an 8-4 mark in two events last season.

FOR OPENERS…: Thursday’s tournament opener against Nevada will also double as the Aggies’ home debut for the 2018 campaign as UC Davis looks to snap a two-game skid when it comes to home openers dating back to a, 10-1, five-inning win over Pacific to kick-off the 2015 home schedule… The Aggies are an even 5-5 in home openers during the program’s Division I history, winning their first four home openers from 2008-11 against Saint Mary’s (2008), Santa Clara (2009), and a pair against Sacramento State (2010-11).

AGGIES IN THE NCAA: Yanez enters this weekend’s tournament ranked 43rd in the nation with seven victories and stands 18th in the NCAA with her 80 strikeouts… She also ranks No. 50 in the nation with her 1.09 ERA… Meanwhile, at the plate, freshman Alyse Rojas ranks No. 67 in the nation with her team-high 24 hits thus far.

KIBBY CLAMPS DOWN: For the second time in as many starts, sophomore right-hander Katie Kibby stymied opposing bats, allowing just one hit in the Aggies’ five-inning, 8-0, victory over Saint Mary’s on Feb. 28 in Moraga. The performance was just three days removed from her stellar performance in the circle to close out the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., when the managerial economics major limited San Diego State, which led the nation in hitting in 2017, to a single hit and facing just two over the minimum baserunners in a 2-0 victory, retiring the first 13 Aztecs she faced before finishing the game by retiring eight of the final nine.

ONE-HIT WONDERS: Kibby’s one-hitter against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 28 marked the third such performance of her career, the fourth by a UC Davis pitcher this season, and the 10th by an Aggie during the program’s Division I history — a span that also includes a combined no-hitter from Jessica Threat and Alex Holmes against Utah Valley in 2011, and a Justine Vela no-no against Idaho State in 2012.

UC DAVIS SOFTBALL ONE-HITTERS (Division I only)
Jessica Hancock vs. Utah (Feb. 28, 2009) — W, 1-0 (9)
Jessica Thweatt (start, 6 inn.) & Alex Holmes (relief, 1 inn.) vs. Albany (March 12, 2011) — W, 2-0
Justine Vela at CSUN (April 7, 2012) — W, 3-0
Justine Vela vs. Fordham (Feb. 24, 2013) — W, 2-0
Justine Vela vs. Pittsburgh (March 10, 2013) — W, 2-0
Katie Kibby at Long Beach State (April 9, 2017) — W, 5-0
Brooke Yanez vs. Fresno State (Feb. 16, 2018) — W, 2-0
Brooke Yanez vs. No. 18/16 Oklahoma State (Feb. 24, 2018) — W, 3-1
Katie Kibby vs. San Diego State (Feb. 25, 2018) — W, 2-0
Katie Kibby at Saint Mary’s (Feb. 28, 2018) — W, 8-0 (5)

UC DAVIS SOFTBALL NO-HITTERS (Division I only)
Jessica Thweatt (start, 3 inn.) & Alex Holmes (relief, 4 inn.) vs. Utah Valley (March 5, 2011) — W, 1-0
Justine Vela vs. Idaho State (March 11, 2012) — W, 5-0

ACE OF BASE(S): Freshman Aly Gomonet has been a table setter atop the Aggies lineup thus far this season, reaching base safely in each of her last 12 games, including hits in a season-high six straight (also the longest active streak among the UC Davis hitters entering the week) and nine of the 12 overall with a pair of walks and a hit by pitch to keep the run alive. After opening with just three hits in the first six games of her collegiate career, the Salinas, Calif., native is hitting .341 (14-for-41) during her current streak with seven runs scored.

THAT’S BROOKE… WITH A “K”: Freshman left-hander Brooke Yanez is on quite a roll to start her collegiate career and it is no more evident that in the Ventura, Calif., native’s strikeout numbers through 10 appearances thus far. The animal science major struck out five against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 28 to bring her total to 80 on the season — matching teammate Katie Kibby’s team-high total from all of 2017. After finishing tied for second in strikeouts at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the two-time Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week could become the first Aggie hurler to finish with 100 strikeouts since Justine Vela whiffed 175 batters during the 2013 campaign. Vela holds the program’s Division I single-season record with 272 strikeouts in 2012, while Gena Weber is the all-time single-season leader with 310 in 1997.

“LOTO” NUMBERS: The records continue to fall at the feet of senior Ashley Lotoszynski, who added another record to her mantel at Saint Mary’s. With her double in the third inning of game two against the Gaels, the agriculture and environmental education major passed Amy Nunez (2011-15) for the program’s Division I career record with 30 and moved her into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list, trailing Lindsay Moore (2000-03) by four for fourth place. Other record chases for the senior include:

• Her 79 RBI are a program Division I record, standing six shy of Robyn Kamisher (1995-98) and Heather Hunter (1993-96) for ninth all-time
• Her 11 home runs are tied for third on the Division I list, and three shy of Nunez for 10th on the all-time list
• Her 52 walks are third on the Division I list and five shy of Mickie Weekly (1985-88) for 10th on the all-time list
• Her 71 runs scored rank third on the Division I list, 13 back of Christa Castello for second

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: Freshman Alyse Rojas has adjusted to Division I pitching quite well, it seems. The human development major from Vacaville, Calif., leads the team with a .400 average and a team-high 24 hits through 17 games thus far, collecting a team-best seven multi-hit games, including three in her last five games and a career-best four-hit game against CSU Bakersfield back on Feb. 17 as part of a nine-game hitting streak — the best by an Aggie hitter thus far this season.

RECYCLED NOTES
YANEZ DOUBLES UP ON BIG WEST AWARDS: Freshman left-hander Brooke Yanez didn’t give up a whole lot, yet she received a ton in return on Monday (Feb. 19), earning her second consecutive Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week award. Continuing a torrid start to her collegiate career, the Aggies’ animal science major finished with a 3-1 record and allowed only an unearned run over 23 innings of work against No. 23 California and four opponents at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno, Calif., as UC Davis won four of its five games at the tournament. Yanez became the first Aggie pitcher to win the award multiple times in the same season since Justine Vela won it three times in 2012 and the first hurler to win it in back-to-back weeks. Read the complete release here: http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/021918aab.html.

FRESHMAN IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Thanks to that stellar start to her career, Yanez has earned some time in the national spotlight, profiled in a Graham Hays feature on freshman starting pitchers on ESPNW.com. Read the complete story here: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/22503357/tuesday-trend-spotting-freshman-pitchers-meghan-beaubien-alexis-holloway-brooke-yanez-start-strong-2018-ncaa-softball-season.

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.

“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. 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).

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.

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.

LIVE AT LA RUE!
Single-game tickets and tournament passes for UC Davis softball are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at UCDavisAggies.com.