The forecast is set for the low 60’s this weekend. A forecast the Colorado State softball team has been waiting to hear.
The first of two Colorado State Classic tournaments will begin Friday when the Rams (5-4) welcome Penn State, Buffalo and Idaho State to Ram Field for the three day event. The Rams will play two games against Penn State (6-7) and Buffalo (2-8) on Friday and Saturday and finish off with one game against Idaho State (2-7) on Sunday.
The tournament will get underway for the Rams Friday at 1:30 p.m. when they take on Penn State. This will be the third Big Ten opponent the Rams have faced this year after they defeated the Maryland Terrapins twice and lost to the current No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Texas Classic three weeks ago.
Maryland defeated the then top ranked Florida Gators a few days after losing to CSU and Penn State comes to Fort Collins with an impressive win of their own.
The Nittany Lions started their season with a 7-3 win over current No. 13 LSU. Sophomore pitcher Madison Seifert was in the circle against the Tigers and she gave up only six hits and had three strikeouts.
Seifert has started seven games for the Nittany Lions and currently has a 1.91 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while batters are hitting just .206 off of her. Her 3-4 record in those appearances is deceiving as her run support for those four losses totals to only one run while she gave up only six earned runs.
Due to that lack of run support, the Nittany Lions offense has had no roar this season. The team as a whole is hitting just .253 and has been shut down by opposing top pitchers. Sophomore Rebecca Ziegler looks to be the biggest threat with her team leading 11 RBI and .605 slugging percentage.
The Rams will follow up both games against Penn State with a matchup against Mid-Atlantic Conference opponent Buffalo (2-8). The Bulls have struggled to start the season with their two wins, both against Hartford University. They have scored five or more runs only three times this season while owning a negative 30 run differential.
The offense is not to be taken lightly however with Bulls senior utility player Savanna Norcio coming to the plate. She has a career batting average of .348 and is hitting .364 so far this season. Last year she was named first-team All-MAC and second-team all-region thanks to her outstanding .382 BA, 26 RBI and 18 multi-hit games.
Colorado will also be a homecoming for Bulls’ sophomore pitcher Ally Power who is from Parker, Colorado. She was named Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year at Ponderosa High School in 2015 with a 0.95 ERA and 268 strikeouts in just 154 innings of work. This season, Power has showcased her talent in four starts with a 1.68 ERA and 1.20 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in only 25 innings pitched.
The Rams will finish the weekend with a matchup on Sunday against Idaho State (2-7). CSU already defeated the Bengals two weeks ago in the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas when Larisa Petakoff pitched her second complete game victory of the season. Sophomore Amber Nelson put the game out of reach with a double in the seventh inning that put the Rams up 5-2 for good.
The Bengals are led by senior outfielder Kacie Burnett. Burnett was named freshman of the Year in the Big Sky Conference in 2014 and has been first-team all-conference the past two years. She hit .454 last season with an OBS of .510 and her most successful game came against the Rams when she racked up four hits.
Idaho State o hit .327 as a team last year so pitching will be key for whoever takes the mound for the Rams on the final day.
CSU’s trio of Larisa Petakoff, Kaylynn Pierce and Bridgette Hutton will look to continue their hot start from the circle. Petakoff leads the group with a 1.53 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Pierce pitched a complete game shutout against Weber State in her last appearance and Hutton has gone up against tough competition in Minnesota and Texas and was able to hold her own in stretches.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajwrules44