Teams: UC Davis vs. No. 19 Stanford; at UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 18-25 (8-4); Cardinal 32-16; Gauchos 23-26 (8-4)
Where: Smith Family Stadium — Stanford, Calif.; LaRue Field
When: Today at 6 p.m.; Saturday at noon and 2 p.m.; Sunday at noon
Who to watch: Despite getting just one hit in the weekend series against Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, junior JJ Wagoner is providing solid offense for the Aggies this season.
The outfielder from Napa, Calif. is hitting .275, has the second-highest batting average of all UC Davis starters and has a hit in eight of the last 10 games.
Wagoner is also one of the most composed players at the plate as she has struck out just eight times this year — tied for the lowest amount by any starter.
“She’s been working extremely hard,” said Head Coach Karen Yoder. “And it’s always nice to see when a player puts in the hard work and sees results.”
Production from upperclassmen like Wagoner will be critical when the Aggies face the talented pitching staffs of Stanford and UC Santa Barbara.
Did you know? After pitching two shutout victories against Cal Poly, freshman starter Justine Vela has won her third Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week title.
The freshman sensation, who leads the conference in strikeouts with 201 and opponents’ batting average with .197, now has an incredible 0.40 ERA against Big West opponents.
With a 7-1 conference record, Vela is a leading force behind UC Davis’ Big West championship run.
Preview: The Aggies enter the most important week of their season when they face nationally ranked Stanford, whom they upset 2-1 earlier this year, and fellow Big West leader UC Santa Barbara.
In today’s game against Stanford, the Aggies’ bats need to be ready in order to keep up with the high-powered Cardinal offense. Averaging almost six runs per game, Stanford also has seven batters with a batting average over .300.
An exceptional team effort by the pitching staff and the offense will be needed in order for the Aggies to pull off a second upset.
The weekend series against UCSB – the last regular-season series at home – is a critical matchup for the conference championship picture.
Like the Aggies, the Gauchos rely on great pitching and timely hitting, as their team ERA against conference opponents is 1.38.
UC Davis will need to come out strong in order to maintain their first-place position in the conference.
The 2012 Alumni game will follow Sunday’s game against UCSB.
— DOUG BONHAM