Event: NCAA Stanford Regional
Teams: UC Davis vs. Hawai’i; TBD
Where: Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium – Palo Alto, Calif.
When: Friday at 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday TBD
Who to watch: Power can come from unexpected places.
Left fielder Heather Zimmerman is third on the team in homeruns, despite having half as many at-bats as the two sluggers ahead of her.
Despite winning the Big West Conference regular season title, UC Davis will need production from its supporting cast if it hopes to advance deeper into the post season.
Did you know? The NCAA Stanford Regional will be hosted by the No. 2 seeded Cardinal.
Two of the players on Stanford’s softball squad are sisters of football standout and Minnesota Vikings draftee, Toby Gerhart.
Teagan and Kelsey Gerhart are not full time starters on offense, but Teagen is the ace of the pitching staff as she sports a 22-6 record on the year.
Preview: A conference title is an amazing accomplishment.
“I’m so happy,” said coach Karen Yoder. “It’s hard to put into words. I’m so proud of the players and the entire program. I’m excited we get to be local so our fan base and community can support us.”
With the Big West title, comes the fourth seed in the Stanford Regional. As a result, UC Davis has a lot of work to do.
In game one, the Aggies will face the No. 1 seeded Rainbow Wahine (44-13). Hawai’i, who won the Western Athletic Conference with a 19-1 record, should be a tough opponent.
The squad is an offensive juggernaut, led by Kelly Majam who sports a .409 batting average, a .518 on base percentage and a .957 slugging percentage as well as 28 home runs.
There are nine players on the Rainbow Wahine with at least seven homeruns on the season. In comparison, the Aggies have 15 homeruns as a team.
If UC Davis makes it past Hawai’i, it has to play either Stanford or Texas Tech.
The Cardinal is led by pitcher Teagan. She has 173 strikeouts in 190.1 innings pitched as well as 19 complete games and 11 shutouts. At the plate, Stanford relies on Jenna Rich who is batting .331 with 12 homeruns and 46 RBI on the year.
On the other hand, Texas Tech doesn’t appear to have any single star. Slugger Mikey Kenney is a force at the plate, as she is hitting .324 with 15 homeruns and 40 RBI. Pitcher Ashly Jacobs has a 14-8 record in the circle with 115 strikeouts in 142.1 innings. While these are tremendous athletes, they don’t compare to the stars on Hawai’i or Stanford.
UC Davis clearly has a rigorous weekend on its schedule, but it has its fair share of stars as well.
Pitcher Alex Holmes was named Pitcher of the Year in the Big West Conference and received first-team honors as both a pitcher and a position player.
Other Aggies who received Big West recognition are Elizabeth Santana, who was named Freshman Field Player of the Year and garnered a first-team selection. Additionally, Yoder received Coach of the Year honors.
The final three UC Davis athletes to collect post-season hardware are Marissa Araujo, Kyle Fan and Dana Waldusky, who all received honorable mention recognition.
“I’m so proud of the dedication of the players and their commitment to put the time, energy and effort into bringing this program up to what it is now,” Yoder said. “I’m so appreciative of them, my staff and every player that’s come before them.”
There is no question that the Aggies will be challenged in the Stanford Regional. Luckily for them, they have the talent to compete with anybody.
– Mark Ling