Toreros Begin Conference Play With Four Games At Saint Mary's

April 7, 2010

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At the Plate: After 11 wins in their non-conference component in the 2010 season schedule, the University of San Diego softball team will take on the Gaels of Saint Mary's (12-14) to begin conference play. The weekend calls for four games between USD and St. Mary's with doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday in Moraga, Calif.

Last Time Out: The Toreros concluded non-conference play for the regular season by splitting two games against crosstown rival San Diego State. USD picked up their first win against the Aztecs since 3/7/08 on Friday with a 3-2 victory. After falling behind 1-0 after the top of the first, the Toreros quickly answered with two runs in the bottom half of the opening inning. Celeste Soto and Carey Casciola were responsible for driving in the two USD runs as both players each produced an RBI single. The Toreros would go on to add an important insurance run in the third when Jennifer Ellenbeck drove in Taylor Hensley, who was in scoring position thanks to a one-out double, to make the score 3-1. Ellenbeck closed out the victory by finishing her complete game. Ellenbeck struck out six, walked three and allowed two earned runs and six hits in the 7.0 innings pitched. In game two of the two-day series, the Toreros were unable to construct any offense against SDSU's ace Samantha Beasley. Ellenbeck (1-for-3) and Danielle Duhart (1-for-3) were the only Toreros to register a hit in the 4-0 loss. Ellenbeck struck out five, but she surrendered the four earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched to suffer the losing decision for USD.

On Deck: The Toreros will continue to march through their conference schedule next weekend, April 17th and 18th, when they return home and welcome Sacramento State to the USD Softball Complex for four contests. Saturday and Sunday will consist of a doubleheader on each day, with both first games starting at 12 p.m.

PCSC Pitcher of the Week: Senior pitcher Jennifer Ellenbeck was named PCSC Coastal Division Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 29th, the conference announced on Monday evening. Ellenbeck went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in two match-ups against San Diego State last week. The Poway, CA native picked up the winning decision in Friday's game after striking out six and allowing two earned runs and six hits in a complete-game effort. For the weekend, Ellenbeck struck out 11 in 11.2 innings pitched. The Pitcher of the Week honor was Ellenbeck's second this season (Last: Week of 2/15).

It Ends At 23: Junior Celeste Soto managed to extend her consecutive on-base streak to 23 games after last Friday's contest when she reached base twice with a single and a walk. The streak, however, was halted in game two of the series after she failed to reach base in three plate appearances. The 23 straight games in which the third baseman reached base safely was a season-high for all Torero hitters in 2010, as well as a career-high for Soto. Soto holds a team-leading .494 on-base percentage, which also ranks second in the PCSC, trailing Desirae Hoffman of Idaho State and her .495 OBP.

Double Down: Although Celeste Soto witnessed her on-base streak come to an end, the Clovis, CA native still leads the team in doubles with 10 in 25 games. The 10 two-baggers place Soto in a four-way tie for first in the PCSC, and she ranks in a tie for 12th place in the nation in doubles per game (0.40). With 29 career doubles, Soto is second all-time in program history, trailing Sara Mason (2003-06) and her 33 career doubles.

Milestone of 400: Senior Jennifer Ellenbeck became the first pitcher in USD history to strike out 400 batters in a career with her eleven-strikeout performance in the two games against San Diego State last weekend. Ellenbeck punched out six Aztec batters during the 3-2 victory on April 2nd, helping her increase her career strikeout total to 403. Ellenbeck also became the sixth player in PCSC history to reach the 400-strikeout plateau, as she now ranks sixth in conference history in career strikeouts and second among current pitchers.

New Season-High: Sophomore Taylor Hensley registered a hit in the first game against SDSU last Friday, which helped her establish a new season-high. Hensley's 1-for-3 performance in the 3-2 victory extended her hitting streak to a season-best six games. Over the six games, Hensley was 10-for-21 (.476) with eight RBI, six doubles, and four runs. The six-game hitting streak tied teammates Celeste Soto and Carey Casciola for the second-longest streak this season. Hensley's hitting streak ended in the second game against SDSU after she went hitless in three at-bats.

Walk Around: The Torero hitters have combined to register 87 walks this season, putting them atop the PCSC leaderboard and with the next closest team sitting at 76. Senior Jennifer Ellenbeck is responsible for 20 of the team's 87 walks, which is also the most among PCSC competitors. Ellenbeck averages .69 walks per game (20 BB/29 games), placing her 42nd in the nation. The nation's leader is Valerie Arioto of Cal, who averages 1.22 walks per game. Ellenbeck has reached base via a walk 99 times in her career.

Running Home: Junior Kristen Gensler scored one of the three runs during the April 2nd contest against San Diego State, adding to her total of 16 runs scored for the season. Gensler is tied with Megan Walsh for the team-lead. Gensler has scored a run in eight of her last 11 games. The Goleta, CA native scored a career-high 30 runs last season and has scored 60 over her 2+ year career.

Multiple Hits: Senior Carey Casciola had two hits in the 3-2 victory over San Diego State last Friday, giving her her fourth multi-hit game of the season. The 2-for-3 performance interrupted a 1-for-20 stretch for the shortstop spanning over seven games. Torero hitters have combined to record 40 multiple-hit games in 2010.

Grab Some Pine: Led by Jennifer Ellenbeck's 79 strikeouts, the Toreros pitching staff has struck out 142 batters this season. The 142 strikeouts trails only Portland State and their 169 strikeouts for the conference lead. Senior Alyssa Luna is second on the team with 21 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched while freshman Chelsea Velovich checks in at third-place among Torero hurlers with 19 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched.

Last Seven: Jennifer Ellenbeck continued her strong stretch of pitching performances against San Diego State last weekend. In her last seven games, all starts, Ellenbeck has gone 4-3 with a 2.40 ERA. The senior standout threw five complete games over the seven starts and struck out 36 while walking 14.

PCSC Opener: With the beginning of the conference schedule on the horizon, the Toreros are looking to at least replicate or further improve upon their 2009 PCSC performance. Last season, USD won a program-best 11 games in conference play and won eight of their last 12 conference games to close out the season.

Scouting Report: St. Mary's: Saint Mary's enters the four-game set against USD with a 12-14 record after losing six of their last eight games. The Gaels last played during the weekend of March 26-28 when they took part in the UC Davis tournament. St. Mary's went 2-2 in the tournament, picking up both of the victories against UC Riverside by a combined score of 12-1. For the season, the Gaels' offense is averaging 3.8 runs per game. Sophomore Michelle Mounts leads the team with a .352 batting average and a .405 on-base percentage. Senior Jenna Smith has registered a team-leading nine extra-base hits, including four home runs, while also driving in 11 runs. Sophomore Rebecca Sabatini has scored a team-best 21 runs while also driving in 11. The ace of the St. Mary's pitching staff is sophomore Britany Linton, who has appeared in 22 games (12 starts), going 8-8 with a 3.14 ERA and holding opponents to a .228 batting average. As a team, the Gaels own a 3.90 ERA. The Gaels are 4-0 at home this season.

The Series: USD is 27-48 against St. Mary's since 1994. The two teams split the four games against each other in 2009, with USD capturing the final two games by scores of 4-3 and 4-2 on May 3rd. The Toreros are 12-9 against the Gaels over the last five seasons.



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