CSU softball hosts 2013 Colorado State Classic in first home games of the season

ram-field-wideWhile icy winds continue to swirl and the winter weather continues to taunt us, one of the first true signs of spring is here: Rams Softball.

The crack of the bat, the sight of pitchers on the mound and the thought of fresh-cut grass all hint at the warmer months to come.

CSU will be hosting Bradley, Brown, Nebraska-Omaha and Washington at Ram Field this weekend for the 2013 Colorado State Classic.

The Rams are looking to bounce back after losing all five of their games in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, CA last weekend. They carry a 6-9 overall record into their first home games of the season.

“We’ve got to play better defense,” CSU coach Jenny Fisher said. “We had solid pitching performances, but we gave up some unearned runs. We need to tighten that up and give the pitchers better run support.”

CSU’s offense struggled to put runs on the board, getting outscored 34-10 during the five-game span.

Unfazed, the Rams know that they need to stick to their fundamentals to get back on track.

“I am taking the same approach into this weekend,” senior pitcher Kacie McCarthy said. “I need to go out and get strikes on the first pitch and get ahead in the count.”

McCarthy has been one of the best pitchers in the Mountain West thus far. She currently ranks second in the league in strikeouts (41) and tied for fifth in wins (4).

Junior shortstop and leadoff hitter Ashlie Ortega wants to provide a spark for the Rams offense this weekend.

“I want to get on base every game. The biggest thing for me being the lead-off is to see as many pitches as I can and be aggressive to get on,” she said.

Ortega is off to a solid start this season, batting .365 with 11 runs and 14 RBIs. She ranks in the top ten of nearly every batting category in the Mountain West, not that any of that matters to her.

“I don’t look at stats; I care about getting on, getting a solid hit, and playing good defense,” Ortega said.

The Rams toughest matchup of the weekend will be on Sunday against 18th-ranked Washington. The Huskies are 10-5 on the season and enjoyed success the Rams did not have in Palm Springs, winning all 5 of their games.

“When you are facing the ranked teams, you have to make every opportunity count when you get on the bases,” Fisher said.

Chances to make plays can be few and far between against ranked opponents.

“When you play those ranked teams, you may only see one good pitch,” Ortega said. “We have to be aggressive and take advantage of those pitches”