Event: Cathedral City Kickoff
Teams: UC Davis vs. Southern Illinois; Fordham; James Madison; Illinois
Records: Aggies, 0-0; Salukis, 0-0; Rams 0-0; Dukes 0-0; Fighting Illini 0-0
Where: Cathedral City, Calif.
When: Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; Sunday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
Who to watch: In order for UC Davis to build on its 2008 season, it will need help in the circle, starting with star hurler senior Jessica Hancock.
The Long Beach, Calif. native was a first team All-Big West selection last season after recording a team-high 17 wins, five of them for shutouts. She also struck out 225 batters, good for second in the conference.
“She’s an amazing young lady both on and off the field,” said coach Karen Yoder. “She’s such a team player who works so diligently and brings everything each day. She has been such a huge influence on our underclassmen, and if she brings half of what she did last year, this program will improve.“
Did you know? UC Davis‘ schedule is loaded with road games for the two months of the season. In fact, the Aggies will be playing 31 of their first 34 games away from LaRue Field. However, 14 of their final 20 games will be played at home.
Preview: Once the first pitch has been thrown on Saturday, the Aggies will be playing softball virtually nonstop until the end of May – and they will have fun doing so due to an array of returning talent.
UC Davis returns its top five batters in terms of batting average as well as the entire pitching staff from last season. In total, the Aggies have 12 returning players and seven new players, two of which are junior college transfers.
“If we’re all healthy and all cylinders are hitting at the same time, I’m excited for what this program can do this year,“ Yoder said. “We’re on a roll right now. We’re in this upward trend with the recruits and where we’re going in the future. It’s an exciting time right now.“
Offensively, UC Davis returns its top hitter in senior Deanna Menapace.
The Livermore, Calif. native batted .266 last season with a team-high 10 doubles and 33 RBI. For her career, Menapace has 18 homeruns and 65 RBI.
The Aggies will begin their long march towards the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. this weekend when they face four teams in a two-day span.
Rest assured, the Aggies will be ready for it.
“We’re ready for some competition,” Yoder said. “We’ve played enough of each other, and we’re ready to start the season.“