CSU softball opens Mountain West play vs UNLV

Sophomore outfielder Taylor Hutton swings at a pitch during the game against Northern Colorado on March 6. Today at 4 p.m. starts a three day series against UNLV at home.
Sophomore outfielder Taylor Hutton swings at a pitch during the game against Northern Colorado on March 6. Today at 4 p.m. starts a three day series against UNLV at home.

The CSU softball team enters Mountain West play at .500 or better for the second consecutive season after a dismal 8-43 year in 2010.

The Rams play the first of three games against UNLV Thursday at 4 p.m.
CSU won the only game it could play due to inclement weather in the 2013 Colorado State Spring tournament, scoring a season-high 17 runs while shutting out Marist on March 21.
Four games were canceled during the tournament do to weather conditions.
“This first game of conference play is huge, especially since we are home,” junior Ashlie Ortega said. “Its an advantage, we know how our field plays, and how the wind will blow in.”
The Rams played one of their more difficult non-conference schedules in recent years and are ready to begin conference play.
“I think the team and coaches are excited for conference play,” coach Jen Fisher said. “Our tough scheudle has prepared use for this … we gotta take it game by game.”
UNLV  has compiled a 14-18 record this year while hitting .252 and driving the second-least runs in the conference.
Junior pitcher Amanda Oliveto leads the conference with 144 innings pitched and sports a 2.14 ERA, good for seventh in the conference. 
“We are hungry to get out and play,” Fisher said. “We need a big push to complete all the little things in the upcoming game.”
In the last series between CSU and UNLV, the Rams earned a season sweep of three straight at the Lady Rebels’ Eller Meida Stadium.
The Rams clinched the sweep in game three with a 5-3 victory.
“They have it out for us,” Fisher said.
Junior Stefany Valentino leades the team with a .386 batting average and 20 runs scored.
“Its important for us to capitalize on the breaks and pitches,” Ortega said. “We have a plan set, and we gotta stick to it.”
A break from the diamond has only helped CSU. Adding Ashlie Ortega back into the line up after an injury brings more strength to the Ram offense.
“I think the time off has made us more prepare,”  junior Cassey Mosser said. “We got the rest, and are ready to come out. We aren’t going to count them out.”
 
Following the three games in confernce play, the Rams will go on the road again to play a three-game series against Texas A&M.
Softball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at sports@collegian.com.