(Neb.)- CSC SB Conference Opener In Grand Junction Delayed
CHADRON, Neb. -- Chadron State College softball will start its Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference slate off with a bang on Sunday, traveling to Grand Junction, Colorado, to face NFCA No. 3 Colorado Mesa University in four scheduled games. The series at Mesa was pushed back from a Saturday-Sunday schedule due to winter weather encroaching on the Western Slope late in the week.
Sunday's doubleheader begins at 1 p.m., while the series will resume at 11 a.m. on Monday.
Colorado Mesa is led by Brooke Hodgson, who leads her team in both batting average (.514) and earned run average (1.62) in the circle. She was named NFCA Division II National Player of the Week on February 7, and has helped the Mavericks to a 10-0 start and a lofty national ranking.
The Mesa pitchers are formidable, but not invulnerable, as they have yet to record a game without an earned run, and have allowed five or more hits in every contest but one.
If CMU is to overcome any slight imperfections in pitching, it will be in the batter's box, where Hodgson and three others hold an average of greater than .400. As a team, they are on base 44 percent of the time, and have posted a .371 average cumulatively in 10 games. They average scoring more than nine runs per game, which eclipses the season-high six they gave up to Texas A&M-Commerce on opening weekend.
After starting their first seven games averaging nearly 13 hits and 11 runs, however, they have settled for a more modest offense in the most recent three, producing six hits and 5.7 runs, on average.
Chadron State, at 2-8, will need to improve in the field for success this weekend. Four times this season the Eagles have outhit or tied their opponents in the batter's box, but lost the game. They have yet to play an error-free game, recording 22 miscues to their opponents' 12.
CSC will also need to hit in a more timely manner. The Eagle baserunners have been stranded 61 times in 10 games, and only found home plate 38 times so far this year.
As expected, the Eagles' strength has been their pitchers. What has been unexpected, is their dominance.
The CSC pitching staff is the class of the RMAC in nearly every meaningful statistical category, leading in ERA, opponent batting average, and strikeouts, and behind only New Mexico Highlands for fewest walks. Individually, Megan Horn is No. 1 in the RMAC with a .106 opponent batting average, and at 1.47 ERA, sits just in front of Hodgson for third in the league. Jessica Jarecki stands atop the strikeout stats with 44 for the year, and allows the third-lowest batting average of .190, despite pitching the second-most innings of any pitcher in the league.
Last season, the Mavericks, then ranked No. 16, visited Chadron under threat of weather, and the teams managed to squeak in three games on Monday. The Eagles won the series 2-1, with one-point victories sandwiching a five-inning, 14-1 loss.
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