Softball to get back in the swing of things at Texas Classic

Savvy Rafkin

After a long winter, Colorado State softball is ready to get a fresh taste of the spring season. Finishing off last season with a 39-12 overall record, the Rams will jump into their spring schedule with a tournament down in Texas starting on Feb. 7.

CSU will take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the University of Maryland, Lamar University, the University of Texas and Wichita State University with their full 2020 roster.

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“I’m just excited for the season; I’m excited to play,” senior pitcher Jessica Jarecki said. “Each game brings on a new challenge, and I am ready to take that on with my team this year.”

Junior Jessica Jarecki winds herself up to throw the pitch toward the Utah batter. (Joshua Contreras | Collegian).

Last season, Rams softball defended their home turf with a 19-2 home record. Additionally, the Rams maintained an impressive 20-game winning streak between Feb. 28 and April 6.

Despite graduating five seniors, including a deep catching staff and their starting pitcher, Bridgette Hutton, the Rams have added several freshmen prospects and continue to build with their returners from the 2018-19 season. Coach Jen Fisher feels confident that her team will return to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year.

“I think the team is ready after NCAA regionals last year,” Fisher said. “It helped us understand the next level that we need to get to. Our team is excited to take on some top-25 teams and take care of business when it comes to some other solid teams like Wichita State.”

Peyton Allen, a freshman catcher and infielder, brings in talent but has pretty big shoes to fill. After the departure of Amber Nelson, the Mountain West Player of the Year last year, the spot for catcher remains wide open.

However, Allen had a successful high school career and stole the spotlight her senior season. Ending with a .540 batting average, Allen has the potential to be a huge asset for the Rams. She also was awarded All-Conference first team as a senior. Allen has a positive outlook for the 2020 season. She feels that her high school experience prepared her to play college ball.

“(I learned to) always compete and overcome really hard challenges that come at you,” Allen said. “I didn’t have the best coaching in high school. … The coaching here is like nothing I’ve ever had in my career. (Coach Fisher) welcomed me here. You could tell this was a family unlike any other program.”

Jarecki proved to be a successful player for the Rams last season. She finished the 2019 season with a 2.65 ERA and a 15-4 record. Jarecki also contributed to many of the wins in the Rams’ 20 game winning streak. This season, she hopes to tackle another successful season with her team by her side.

“My goal is to stay calm, cool and collected and not rush,” Jarecki said. “The pitchers set the pace of the game, and if it gets a little chaotic and things don’t go our way, I want to calm everyone down and keep the energy up.”

Despite a successful team last year, the Rams will face a difficult schedule this year. They compete against many of the same teams as last season, and it will not be easy to sweep the Mountain West Conference.

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The Rams face San Diego State and San Jose State right off the bat in conference play beginning on March 13. Last year, CSU topped both SJSU and SDSU with 2-1 records. San Diego State finished the 2019 season with a 25-26 record, and San Jose State finished with a record of 37-16.

“Eighteen or 19 wins will typically win the conference,” Fisher said. “So, you really have to keep the consistency of your team going and not have any letdowns and try and go for a couple of sweeps and try and take two out of three (games) at every opportunity in conference series.”

The Rams will begin the tournament in Austin, Texas, on Friday at 8 a.m. MT against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders and will then take on the University of Maryland at 3:30 p.m. MT.

Savvy Rafkin can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @SavvyCollegian.