By Ajah Yee (@ajah_yee ):
After dominating the Mountain West 2017 and earning its second conference championship in four seasons, San Jose State softball is back and ready to defend its title once again.
SJSU won’t be flying under the radar, as it was picked second in the preseason Mountain West poll to win the MW title in 2018.
Last year’s Mountain West coach of the year and SJSU’s all-time winningest coach Peter Turner will return for his 12th season at the helm for the Spartans.
A big point of emphasis for the coming year has to be who is going to be in the circle day in and day out.
Last season, Katelyn Linford led the team with 30 starts and posted a 2.45 ERA in 211.1 innings of work as a senior, accompanied by Colette Riggs who who had a 2.32 ERA in half as many innings.
With an offense that appears to be in good shape, one that hits for average, the biggest question is if the bats can erase the problems SJSU will run into with its arms.
One interesting story on the offensive end is Georgia Blair, who spent the summer representing her native Australia in the World Cup of Softball and earned 33 starts at shortstop in 2017, and catcher Alyssa Availa who earned 34 starts at catcher in 2017.
As for the X factor on offense, look for Cassidy Clark to play a big role in what the Spartans are trying to do, which is score early and often. Clark led the team in batting average last season and is really good on the base path, as she knows how to find her way to home plate.
As far as a facility, which inspired a team-slogan last season of “No field, no problem,” it still might be “no field.”
Rumors had it that the team’s softball field would be done with phase one of its completion by the end of February, but that seems unlikely, as nothing but dirt sits on the projected field site.
The Spartans will hit off the new season by playing six games from Feb. 8 – Feb. 11 at the 2018 Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
Game two of Thursday’s double-header against Missouri has been cancelled because of flight issues the Tigers ran into in Saint Louis, but the Spartan’s first game versus South Dakota is still scheduled for a 4:15 p.m. start Thursday.
The Spartans also have games against No. 11 Tennessee, Purdue, Indiana and UTEP in Arizona over the weekend.