The “Sunshine State” is home to 300 days of perfect weather has but decided to go against it’s own name this weekend. San Diego is currently the eighth sunniest city in the US, but it’s preparing to open the rain clouds for four straight days; just in time for the San Diego Classic softball tournament.
“I was really excited about going to California because it was supposed to be sunny and warm,” CSU pitcher Holly Reinke said. “It’s supposed to rain, but I’m still excited for the competition.”
The softball team won’t let San Diego rain on their parade. The Rams are off to their best start since 2008 with a 7-3 record. Reinke was just honored as Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for slinging four wins without a loss.
Their biggest focus this weekend will be to pace themselves through six games over three days and come out on top. Head coach Jen Fisher has been praising her team’s defensive performance, but is pushing for a sharper, quicker offensive approach.
“We had last weekend off, and the team really came back with some great adjustments “ Fisher said. “We have worked really hard on knowing our zone and driving first-pitch strikes. With a slightly different approach, that can change the whole offense.”
Up to now, strong pitching performances from Molly Randle (5.67 ERA, 2-0), Larisa Petakoff (2.66, 1-3) and Reinke (1.20, 4-0) have led the Rams to their winning record. Reinke especially has allowed the Rams to stay competitive through each inning, even when the offense starts slow, but she sends the glory to God, and of course, her teammates.
“What I love about it is that it’s everybody,” Reinke said of the success. “Even though I got pitcher of the week, it was because of the game-winning home run, the defense I had behind me — it’s been a team thing.”
Despite some production struggles, the Rams are still averaging over five runs per game thanks to some consistent hitting from Haley Hutton, Danielle Wikre and Chelsea O’Connor. All of them are batting at least .300 and have 35 hits and 23 runs between them.
O’Connor performed exceptionally well in the last two tournaments, sending two runners across home in the Kajikawa Classic, hitting a walk-off, two-run homer on day one of the UTSA Classic and crushing her first grand slam on day two.
“I’m just looking forward to playing because we were off last weekend,” O’Connor said. “We’ve been focusing on getting through the line-up and finding the laces, so we will just have to be patient.”
Look for her as well as Wikre, Hutton and Ashlie Ortega to send rays of success CSU’s way over the weekend. Their toughest game will take place Friday at 12:30 against No. 2 Tennessee. The 13-0 Vols have a not-so-secret weapon in senior pitcher Ellen Renfroe, who has 61 strikeouts on the season and boasts a 0.31 ERA.
“Trying not to carry negativity from one pitch to another, from one at bat to another and from one game to another is really hard,” Fisher said. “But I feel like I can count on them [Ortega, O’Connor and Wikre] to have really quality at bats.”
Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.