Sdsu Looks to Settle Old Scores

by Staff

Team has plenty to prove after lackluster end to inauguralMountain West season

If anyone was surprised by the San Diego State softball team’sperformance last spring, be surprised no more.

After a disheartening end to a great season, SDSU definitelythinks it has something to prove.

“We were very disappointed at the end of last season because wehad the big winning streak and then we fizzled out in the end,” saidAztecs head coach Kathy Van Wyk. “They think they have a lot to proveand that’s going to be good.

“It’s a good motivator.”

After losing five of its first six games, SDSU came into its own,putting together several winning streaks. The Aztecs were the No. 3seed going into the Mountain West Conference Tournament, partlybecause of their strong April, winning 18 out of 22 games that month.

Down the stretch, the rigorous conference schedule played a bigrole in the outcome of last season. SDSU was on the road the lastthree weeks of the year. As a result, the team lost its last fourgames, and went into the MWC Tournament exhausted.

“I think it’s better this year because we don’t travel in the lastmonth,” junior Sarah Hershman said. “All of our games are at home.You get to sleep in your own bed and it’s more relaxed.”

With a better schedule and 12 returning letterwinners, the Aztecsappear to have a promising season ahead. The team boasts eightplayers with at least two years varsity experience, which has createda sense of camaraderie among the players.

To again be a winning team, SDSU must tap into that chemistry.

“We expect to do really well,” junior Kellie Nordhagen said. “Wewant to win and we know we can. We expect it out of ourselves.”

Pitching

The Aztecs will again look to senior Sandra Durazo (2.15, 25-12)as their No. 1 starter. Durazo is not only a strong leader, she is aworkhorse. She can give the team a lot of innings (224.2 in 2000)without any problems.

“Sandra Durazo is going to take the brunt of the pitching duties,”Van Wyk said. “Sandra is not somebody who is a vocal leader, but sheleads by example on the field.”

Beyond Durazo, there isn’t yet a set rotation. Juniors KorinGregory (4.47, 1-7) and Tiffany Goudy (3.92, 2-3) both had roughyears but have picked up some experience and are expected to do well.

Sophomore Olivia Catron (2.56, 7-5) had a good year, consideringshe went up against such opponents as Oregon State University andStanford University. She gained a lot of experience and will probablybe one of SDSU’s top starters.

Outfield

Although it’s one of the shakiest positions in terms of depth, theoutfield has sufficient talent. Nordhagen (.389, 1 HR, 21 RBI) hadthe team’s highest batting average last year and will likely patrolcenter field. Because Nordhagen has experienced knee problems,freshman Janna Kovensky will step up and take her spot. Kovensky hasa strong bat which makes her an asset to the team.

Goudy will also take a position in the outfield when she isn’tpitching.

Said Van Wyk: “We need her bat in the lineup.”

Infield

The infield has the most experience and depth of all thepositions. At first base, either sophomore Kristina Kirk (.133, 6hits, 3 RBI) or junior Summer Ehrsham (.198, 16 hits, 6 RBI) willplay.

“Whoever hits well between Kristina and Summer is going to win theposition,” Van Wyk said.

Hershman (.339, 4 HR, 30 RBI) who led the team in RBI will returnto her position at second base.

Returning to pick up third base will be senior Tashie Aguinaga(.214, 24 hits, 14 RBI).

The most competition exists at shortstop, where senior VanessaVillegas (.203, 26 hits, 11 RBI) played last year. Villegas has beeninjured and if she isn’t ready to go by the first game, Kovensky willtake her spot. Van Wyk hopes to have Kovensky in the lineup, whethershe plays outfield or shortstop.

Catcher

SDSU has a starter in junior Brooke Johnson, who was out with aninjury the majority of last season. Her wrist has healed and she isconcentrating on regaining her stroke.

Next in line is junior Jennifer Seckle, a utility player whotransferred from Mesa Community College.

“Jen can play anywhere,” Van Wyk said. “She can essentially playany position we need her to play and she does a great job behind theplate.

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