Some big bats await Colorado State’s softball team in its three-game series this week against San Jose State.
The Spartans’ top four batters in Michelle Cox, Jessie Hufstetler, Jessica Madrid and Casey Watt all hit .400 or better, putting all except Watt in the top five in the Mountain West Conference in batting average. Sophomore infielder Anissa Pinedo trails barely behind her teammates at .389. Paced by this first five, SJSU’s team average sits at a high .346.
But no alteration from how the Rams’ pitching staff normally throws is necessary against the slugging Spartans, according to CSU head coach Jen Fisher.
“Our pitchers are really trained to not worry about the hitters and just pitch,” Fisher said. “If it has good movement and it’s in a good location, it’s really difficult to hit. It can be a little bit intimidating, but we really try not to look at those numbers.”
CSU, on the other hand, is hitting .282 as a team, but with solid pitching, rattled off 12 straight wins to begin the month of March.
Plus, the Rams have some players with some pop, too. Senior Danielle Wikre may be hitting only .235, but with a third of her 24 hits being home runs, she ranks third in the Mountain West in bombs.
“She’s been a staple in the batting lineup in all four years here,” Fisher said of Wikre, who has transitioned to playing first base this season after previously serving as a designated hitter.
Additionally, sophomore Haley Hutton can be dangerous. She has continued leading CSU in batting with a .396 average so far this season after batting a team-high .413 last year as a true freshman.
The Rams head to California after a week-long break, their longest since the season began, which allowed for rest and some helpful batting drills.
“We worked a lot on our vision this week during practice, so i think that’s really going to help our hitting come along,” senior utility player Haley David said.
The games scheduled for 1 p.m. MT Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be CSU’s second set of conference matchups this season. The Rams dropped three straight to Fresno State in their MW opener in Fort Collins the weekend before last to end their March winning streak.
San Jose State beat Fresno State in two out of three games this last weekend.
“I think this weekend is going to be really good to redeem ourselves,” David said.
Though they struggled through a tough non-conference schedule to start the season before hitting their stride in March, the Rams have the assets to capture what has been an elusive MW title, despite the mediocre 19-16 record they’re taking into San Jose.
“I think we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves, this group of seniors has been within a game or two of a conference championship three years in a row, and so I think we’ve playing a little bit tight,” Fisher said.
The Spartans got the best of CSU last year, winning two out of three games in Fort Collins.
If the Rams can come out on top in their series with San Jose State, which boasts MW best 25-12 mark, it should restore some much-needed confidence.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.