Event: Hawai’i Paradise Classic
Teams: UC Davis vs. Texas State; vs. Southern Utah; at Hawaii
Records: Aggies, 0-0; Bobcats, 5-1; Thunderbirds, 0-0; Warriors, 0-0
Where: Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium – Honolulu, Hawai’i
When: Today at 2 p.m.; Friday at 11 a.m., 3 p.m.
Who to watch: Against the big bats of Hawai’i that knocked out a national record 158 home runs last season, UC Davis will look to pitching and defense to keep the prolific offense from getting off the ground.
Senior Alex Holmes is coming off a strong season and was a huge reason why the Aggies took the Big West Conference title a year ago.
Recording 143 strikeouts in 177 innings, the native of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. surrendered just 68 walks en route to a 3.01 ERA.
Holmes is also dangerous offensively, recording a .415 slugging percentage, a .396 on base average and a team best 59 hits.
Did you know? The Aggies played the Warriors twice in 2010, losing both times. The last time UC Davis beat Hawaii was in 2009, when then-senior Jessica Hancock struck out 18 and freshman Kelly Harman homered twice.
Preview: The Aggies may be playing in paradise starting today, but the weather still won’t be pretty.
Showers are expected throughout the weekend, but UC Davis also hopes to rain on the Warriors’ opening day parade.
“[Hawaii] is a top [tier] program and it’s going to be great competition,” said coach Karen Yoder. “It’s wonderful for [UC Davis] to play them.”
UC Davis’ first game of the tournament will be against Texas State, a team laden with senior leadership and experience. The Bobcats return seven starting position players and two pitchers.
The Bobcats are always willing to play small-ball, as they stole 57 bases and tallied up 58 sacrifices last season.
Texas State isn’t the only team returning experience. The Aggies retain seven position-playing starters from last year’s conference-winning team.
“[The middle of our order] is coming back, with the top three or four players returning as well,” Yoder said. “Replacing [last year’s seniors] isn’t going to be easy, but I’m look for players to really contribute.”
But on a team that boasts only three seniors, younger players will have to step up as well.
“We will have some starters who are freshman and I’m excited to see them perform,” Yoder said. “Every year, we’ve had at least one freshman start. We’ve had great success with that. I’m excited to see them perform.
– Matt Wang