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MSU Billings off to Tournament of Champions in California

Posted at 2:27 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 16:00:41-04

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings softball team (10-14, 2-6 GNAC) will make their longest road trip of the season this weekend as they travel to Turlock, Calif. for the 17th annual Tournament of Champions hosted by Stanislaus State University. The Yellowjackets will play six games over three days starting with San Francisco State University (12-16, 9-10 CCAA) at 3 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, March 23.

Twenty-seven teams will compete in the tournament including all eight Great Northwest Athletic Conference schools. Five of the six opponents the Yellowjackets will face compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with Dominican University of California (8-20, 3-11 PacWest) being the lone Pacific West Conference opponent.

Last season MSUB completed the tournament with a 2-4 record while picking up a win over Dominican, the first of two Sunday opponents this season, and falling to San Francisco State. In total, the ‘Jackets are 18-32 all time at the Tournament of Champions and have participated each of the past seven seasons. MSUB recorded 3-3 weekends in 2015 and 2014, and last left Turlock with a winning record after a 4-3 showing in 2012. The Yellowjackets have a combined record of 15-31 against their 2018 tournament opponents

Following the 3 p.m. (PST) start against San Francisco, the ‘Jackets will face host Stanislaus State (14-11, 9-9 CCAA) at 6 p.m. (PST) Friday night. On Saturday, MSUB will get a late 5:30 p.m. start against No. 3 Chico State (26-3, 21-3 CCAA) before playing the nightcap against No. 13 Sonoma State (19-7, 13-5 CCAA). During the final day of competition the ‘Jackets will play Domincan at 10 a.m. and conclude with Cal State, Monterey Bay (14-14, 9-10) at 2 p.m.

“It is a great opportunity to mesh as a team before we return home to start the bulk of our conference schedule,” head coach Jessica Rayman said of the long road trip. “It is always beneficial to get a look at the other teams in our region. We have a difficult schedule but it will give us an understanding of where we’re really at as a team moving forward.”


FRESHMEN NEARING 20-HIT MILESTONE: Freshmen Allie Hughes and Brittanee Fisher have been strong compliments to the Yellowjackets’ veteran laden offense in the first half of the season. Hughes leads the duo with 19 hits and a .322 average this season while Fisher is close behind with 17 knocks and a .277 average. Only 16 freshmen have ever had 20 or more hits in their first season with the Yellowjackets, and teammates have only accomplished the feat three times in the programs 16-year history. The last set of teammates to reach 20 hits each during their freshman campaign came in 2015 when the trio of Heather Tracy (47 hits), Cameton Cassinelli (33 hits) and Amanda Barham (25 hits) played their first season with the ‘Jackets.

Hughes, like Barham, is a Sparks, Nev. native. Three of the 16 freshman to reach the 20 hit mark have been from Sparks including Bella Rovens (40 hits in 2014) and Cori Gammon (21 hits in 2013) before Barham. With the addition of two Las Vegas natives, Emily Osborn who totaled a freshman-best 57 hits in 2012 and Jenna VanEykeren’s 20 hits in 2009, 5 of the 16 batters hail from the Silver State.

Fisher would be the second Billings native to join the club as fellow Billings Senior alumnus Jenna Haacke collected 38 hits in 2005. Two other Montanans have reached the benchmark, Kalispell’s Sara Hanley in 2002 and Great Falls’ Christy Wankle in 2003.

TRACY’S HIT STREAK SNAPPED: Heather Tracy’s MSUB-record 27-game hit streak came to an end in the first of two Sunday games against Central Washington two weeks ago. The streak topped Tracy’s previous MSUB-record of 21 consecutive games with a hit and is tied for the third longest streak in GNAC history. The Yellowjacket senior’s streak started at the end of last season as she completed her junior campaign with hits in each of the last five games. She added 22 more games to the streak to begin this season. Saint Martin’s Sam Munger had a 27-game streak with 26 consecutive games with a hit to end her 2013 season before adding one more game to the streak to start 2014. Central Washington’s Kailyn Campbell split a 30-game streak evenly over the 2016 and 2015 seasons and CWU’s Danielle Monson holds the conference record with 40 consecutive games with a hit in 2010.

With 26 games remaining on the ‘Jackets regular season schedule, it would take a GNAC Tournament appearance for Tracy to improve on her record 27-game streak.

CASSINELLI SITTING ON 34: Cameron Cassinelli is now just one home run shy of tying the MSUB all-time record for career home runs behind Kelly Parson’s 35 homers. The senior has gone deep in each of the ‘Jackets past two series and will get six games worth of at-bats this weekend as she looks to add to her impressive career numbers. Along with being the program’s all-time leader in RBI with 140, Cassinelli is second in career on-base percentage (.442) and third in career walks (63). She has reached base at a .470 rate this season, the best of her career. With three hits over the four games against CWU, Cassinelli became the 14th player in school history to eclipse the 150 hit mark as she now has 151 hits over her four years as a Yellowjacket.

SOPHOMORE BUMP: There has been no sign of a sophomore slump for Maddy Lincoln this season. In fact, the Olympia, Wash. native has seen improved numbers across the board in her second season with the ‘Jackets. She has cut her opponent batting average by over .100 points, .330 in 2017 and .228 this year, and her ERA, 3.61, is nearly two runs better than her freshman campaign. In 13 starts this season, Lincoln has recorded four complete games and two shutouts. She has yet to allow more than five earned runs in a game and is just two wins shy of her season total from last year. Adding to her impressive numbers, the left-hander has upped her strikeout rate while she continues to be effective with her pitch-to-contact approach. She has given up a measly 12 extra base hits over 71.2 innings this year, adding up to one every 28.5 batters faced.

RANKED MATCHUPS: On Saturday the Yellowjackets will face two of the top-15 teams in Division II starting with No. 3 Chico State. In 2016, the ‘Jackets defeated No. 2 Dixies State 4-1 to record their most recent win over a ranked opponent. Over the past five season the ‘Jackets are 7-14 against ranked opponents. The last time they played two different ranked opponents in the same day came in 2016 when they faced No. 20 Augustana (Loss, 9-0) and No. 25 Cal State Monterey Bay (Loss, 15-2) at the Desert Stinger. MSUB’s seniors are no strangers to ranked foes as this will be the 20 and 21st time they face a ranked opponent in their careers.

“Chico and Sonoma are really quality programs,” Rayman said of Saturday’s opponents. “Obviously they’re good teams but it will be most important for us to come out and play our game. We can play with any team when we focus on our defense and let our bats work. Our pitchers will have their work cut out for them but if we prevent them from getting on base and stop their running game we will be in good shape. At the end of the day, it is about what we can control and not who we are playing.”

GNAC SNAPSHOT: Central Washington is off to a strong start in Great Northwest Conference play as they are the lone undefeated team with a 7-0 mark in conference. Simon Fraser has an 8-4 record and is the only other league team with a winning record in conference play. Northwest Nazarene sits in third with a 4-4 GNAC record followed by 5-7 Western Washington. Concordia and Saint Martin’s are each 3-5 in conference with MSUB sitting in eighth with a 2-6 mark.

FOLLOW: Live stats will be available through Stanislaus States’ Tournament of Champions Portal and the Softball Schedule Page. Links will not be active until the start of each game and will be updated throughout the weekend.

San Francisco State University Gators
Friday, March 23 | 3 P.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 12-16, 9-10 CCAA
Head Coach: Alicia Reed (1st Season)
2017 Record: 21-31, 13-27 CCAA
Roster | Stats

San Francisco will start their Tournament of Champions slate with a 12:30 p.m. (PST) game with Concordia University (Calif.) before meeting the ‘Jackets for their second game of the day. The Yellowjackets are 2-7 all-time against the Gators with their last win coming in 2012 in Turlock. SFSU has won the past two meetings 7-4 in 2016 and 5-4 in 2017.

The Gators come into the tournament after collecting a four-game sweep over Cal State Dominguez Hills last weekend. Freshman Andrea Hildan leads the team with a .381 batting average and two triples this season. Michelle Castro has been a constant threat on the bases for the Gators as the sophomore has 22 steals and 23 runs on 33 hits this season. Castro leads the team with 10 doubles and is tied for the team lead with 17 RBIs. The SFSU lineup has totaled just 10 home runs this season.

In the circle, San Francisco has allowed just under six (5.7) runs per game while holding team ERA of 4.87. Lindsey Cassidy has a team high five wins this season while holding a 4.89 ERA over 14 appearances.

Stanislaus State University Warriors
Friday, March 23 | 6 P.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 14-11, 9-9 CCAA
Head Coach: Jessica Ventoza (3rd Season)
2017 Record: 23-32, 13-27 CCAA
Roster | Stats

The Warriors had to cancel a pair of games against California Baptist and Central Washington on Wednesday as the Turlock area dealt with steady rain. The Tournament of Champions hosts will play a five game schedule over the weekend with games against Western Oregon, Simon Fraser, Concordia (Calif.) and Concordia (Ore.) Their matchup with MSUB will be the 10th game of the all-time series as the Warriors hold a 5-4 advantage over the Yellowjackets. Stanislaus slugged-out a 19-15 victory over the ‘Jackets in 2016 while MSUB won meetings in both 2014 and 2015.

Alexus Martinez and Aliyah Garvin pace the Warrior offense with .391 and .385 batting averages respectively. The duo has combined to score 25 runs this season while they each reach base at a better than .400 clip. With only seven home runs this season and 11 total stolen bases, the Warriors rely on stringing together hits to spark the offense.

Six pitchers have made three or more appearances for Stanislaus this season while Kylie Ragsdale and Megan Stacy have made eight starts a piece. Stacy has a 7-2 record with a 3.34 ERA while Ragsdale hold a 2.80 ERA with a 4-5 record.

No. 3 California State University Chico Wildcats
Saturday, March 24 | 4:30 P.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 26-3, 21-3 CCAA
Head Coach: Angel Shamblin (9th Season)
2017 Record: 39-18, 25-13 CCAA
Roster | Stats

Winning eight of their last 10 games, the Wildcats are off to a strong start to their 2018 season. They posted wins over GNAC schools Western Washington and Concordia at the Desert Stinger where they completed the weekend 5-0 while being named the tournament champion. The Yellowjackets are 3-5 against the Wildcats with their last win coming in 2013. Chico has won the past three meetings including 9-1 and 9-0 wins each of the past two seasons.

With their 1.63 team ERA ranking seventh amongst Division II schools, the Wildcats have 13 shutouts this season. Haley Gilham tossed a no-hitter for the ‘Cats in a 4-0 win over Cal State Monterey Bay just two weeks ago. All four of the Wildcats’ pitchers boast an ERA bellow 2.50 with Sam Mulock holding a 1.38 earned run average in 20.1 innings of work. Gillham has a 1.60 ERA over 100.1 innings this season with 12 complete games in 15 starts.

Kristin Worley is the Wildcats’ top threat at the plate with a .400 batting average this season at the top of the order. Ari Marsh has driven in the most runs for Chico with 25 RBI. As a team, Chico has shown a talent for hitting home runs as they rank 16th in the nation with 32 homers over 29 games. Three batters have five home runs this season for the Wildcats while Bailey Akins leads the team with 10 homers.

No. 13 Sonoma State University Seawolves
Saturday, March 24 | 7 P.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 19-7, 13-5 CCAA
Head Coach: Jennifer Bridges (9th Season)
2017 Record: 38-20, 26-14 CCAA
Roster | Stats

The Seawolves will get an early start to the weekend as they play Western Washington in Turlock on Thursday before the official start of the tournament. MSUB will be the fourth of six TOC foes for Sonoma. The ‘Jackets are 2-6 all-time against SSU but defeated the Seawolves the last time the pair met in Turlock by a final of 9-8. At the time, Sonoma was ranked 19th in the nation. In 2017, the Seawolves avenged their TOC loss with a 19-12 defeat of the ‘Jackets at the Desert Stinger in Las Vegas.

Senior Karly Macadangdang leads the Seawolf offense while carrying a .391 batting average. Freshman Julie Davis matches Macadangdan’s average while adding 10 steals in 10 attempts.

Hihghlighted by five shutouts so far this season, the Seawolves have relied on a consistent pitching throughout the early season. Brigid Ruiz has a 7-2 record with a team-leading 2.36 ERA over 62.1 innings this season and Brielle Vidmar has team high nine wins with a 2.61 ERA.

Dominican University of California Penguins
Sunday, March 25 | 10 A.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 8-20, 3-11 PacWest
Head Coach: Juliana Santos (1st Season)
2017 Record: 23-27, 18-14 PacWest
Roster | Stats

Dominican will play an exclusively Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule at the tournament as they will play Concordia (Ore.), Western Oregon, Northwest Nazarene, Simon Fraser and Saint Martin’s as well as the ‘Jackets. The Penguins come into the tournament after dropping their past 13 games. MSUB is 2-1 in three meetings with Dominican at the Tournament of Champions including a 5-2 win last season.

Alyssa Waltman is the Penguins’ top performer with a 2.44 ERA over 57.1 innings this season. With only five starts, the freshman has been used primarily in relief this season. Gaby Katafias has a team-high 12 starts and five wins this season in the circle with a 5.33 ERA.

At the plate, Dominican averages 4.5 runs per game and hits .248 as a team. McKenzie Schumacher has a team-leading .292 batting average and 22 stolen bases this season. Waltman has been a dual threat with four home runs this season to compliment her pitching prowess.

California State University Monterey Bay Otters
Sunday, March 25 | 2 P.M. | Turlock, Calif.
2018 Record: 14-14, 9-10 CCAA
Head Coach: Andrea Kenney (12th Season)
2017 Record: 43-13, 30-8 CCAA
Roster | Stats

After taking three of four games from Cal State San Marcos, the Otters look to remain hot at the Tournament of Champions. Seven of the 15 losses for Monterey Bay have come to the ‘Jackets’ Saturday opponents in Chico State and Sonoma State. The Yellowjackets are 2-7 all-time against the Otters and lost the last meeting 15-2 at the Desert Stinger in 2016. Both of MSUB’s over the Otters came in 2015 when the ‘Jackets topped them 3-0 and 7-6 with CSUMB ranked in the top-5 nationally for both of the meetings.

Courtney Hennings is the top threat for the Otter offense with a .360 batting average with five home runs and a team-best 28 RBI this season. The junior has four doubles this season and has worked 16 walks earning her a .466 on-base percentage. Joanna Perruccio is the top running threat for CSUMB as the senior has collected nine stolen bases on as many attempts this season.

Hayley Fein has started 16 of the Otters’ 28 games this season and holds a 3.29 ERA with a 9-7 record. The sophomore is from Sparks, Nev. and attended the same high school as MSUB seniors Amanda Barham and Myrissa Prince. Rosalia Keirns made two starts in the series against San Marcos and has a 1.68 ERA in 16.2 innings this season. She pitched a complete game one-hitter to earn her first win of the season against the Cougars.