Softball Preview

Teams: UC Davis vs. Long Beach State

Records: Aggies, 15-22 (5-1); 49ers 16-20 (4-2)

Where: LaRue Field

When: Saturday at noon and 2 p.m.; Sunday at noon

Who to watch: Freshman starting pitcher Justine Vela is coming off a huge week after allowing only one run in 20 innings pitched against UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge. With these performances, the Bakersfield, Calif. native was named Big West Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season.

Vela, with her 2.71 ERA, has the third-best earned run average in the Big West out of pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings.

“She is a huge impact on our pitching staff,” Coach Karen Yoder said. “Anytime that you can have 24 strikeouts in two games … [it] definitely puts us in a position to be successful.”

Did you know? UC Davis ranks first in the Big West in striking out opponents with 279 on the year, or an average of 7.5 strikeouts per game.

Both Vela and junior starting pitcher Jessica Thweatt have been successful perplexing opposing batters this season as they have also helped the Aggies limit opponents to a batting average of .257 — the second-lowest average in the conference.

Maintaining this pitching dominance will be critical if UC Davis hopes to continue its hot start in conference play.

Preview: The Aggies return home this weekend to face the Long Beach State 49ers in a three-game series. At 3-2, the 49ers are the only team in the Big West with a winning record on the road.

Led by starting pitcher sophomore Erin Jones-Wesley, who has the second-best ERA in the Big West of pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings, Long Beach State is playing hot, winning eight of their last eleven games.

Fans at this weekend’s games should look forward to some fantastic pitching as the 49ers have a team ERA of just 3.06 compared to the Aggies’ 3.84 ERA.

Although UC Davis is 5-1 in conference thus far, Long Beach State, which leads the all-time series 18-6, stands to be a difficult challenge for the Aggies, who must not look too far ahead.

“A strong preseason [schedule] … prepared our team to come out and rise to the occasion,” said Yoder. “But it’s one game at a time.”

— Doug Bonham

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