Let’s Play Ball: Oregon State returns to Southern California for the second straight weekend, as the Beavers compete in the Long Beach Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted by Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton this week. Oregon State will open the week on Thursday against Cal State Fullerton, before taking on Illinois and UC Santa Barbara on Friday. The Beavers will face Utah Valley on Saturday, and will close out the weekend with a pair of tough matchups, as they play No. 4/6 Michigan and Louisville on Sunday.
Follow Along: You can find live updates for all Oregon State games this season on twitter @OregonStateSB. Live stats will also be available at osubeavers.com.
Game 1 - Cal State Fullerton: Oregon State will open the week by taking on co-host Cal State Fullerton. The Titans have opened the season with an 11-5 record, which includes a 3-1 win over defending national champion No. 13/20 Oklahoma on the opening day of the season. Missy Taukeiaho leads the TItans, hitting .396 with four home runs and 15 runs after transferring from Washington. Desiree Ybarra is 4-0 on the year with a 0.61 ERA and 11 strikeouts. Oregon State is 10-10 all-time against Cal State Fullerton, including a 9-5 win over the Titans last season in Las Vegas. Hannah Bouska went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI in the game.
Game 2 - Illinois: The Beavers will take on Illinois in a Friday morning tilt in Long Beach. The Illini are 11-3 this season, and will carry a three-game winning streak into their matchup with Oregon State. Allie Bauch and Ruby Rivera are both hitting over .400 on the season, and have tallied two home runs apiece. Brandi Needham leads the Illinois pitching staff with a 6-1 record and a 1.14 ERA. Oregon State has beaten the Illini in the teams’ two all-time meetings. The Beavers topped Illinois 5-1 in Palm Springs last season, with Natalie Hampton hitting a home run.
Game 3 - UC Santa Barbara: Oregon State will continue it’s Firday slate with a game against UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are 9-4 on the season, and are led by sophomore outfielder Arianna Palomares, who is hitting .477 with 11 runs. Shelby Wisdom has paced the USCB pitchers with a 4-3 record, including a pair of shutouts. The Beavers hold the all-time advantage over the Gauchos, as Oregon State has gone 11-6 in games against UCSB.
Game 4 - Utah Valley: The Beavers’ lone Saturday matchup will pit them against Utah Valley. The Wolverines have struggled to open the season, losing their first 10 games of the campaign. Lauvai Dynasty leads the team with a .286 batting average and a double. Josi Summers has pitched 20 innings, striking out 17. The Beavers are 2-0 historically against Utah Valley.
Game 5 - Michigan: Oregon State opens a challenging Sunday slate with a game against No. 4/6 Michigan. The Wolverines are 12-2 on the year, and are riding an eight-game winning streak that includes victories over No. 7/8 Kentucky and No. 24/25 Louisiana-Lafayette. Sierra Romero has started the 2014 season with a bang, hitting .513 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Haylie Wagner and Megan Betsa are both undefeated with ERAs under one. Wagner is 7-0 with 36 strikeouts, while Betsa is 5-0 with 43 strikeouts. The Wolverines hold a 6-1 all-time edge over Oregon State.
Game 6 - Louisville: The Beavers will close out the week with a game against Louisville. The Cardinals are 8-6 to open the season, and have five players hitting over .300. Kelsi Jones and Katie Keller pace Louisville with 11 runs apiece, while Jones has nine RBIs. Maryssa Becker has a 3-0 record in the circle with 26 strikeouts, and has provided a spark offensively, hitting 6-for-11. The Beavers are 1-3 historically against the Cardinals, with their sole win coming in 2008.
Give Me Gilmore: Junior Dani Gilmore has opened the 2014 campaign on a tear, hitting .360 with five home runs, 16 runs and 12 RBIs, and went 6-for-13 last week at the Mary Nutter Classic. The West Hills, Calif., native played the majority of her first two seasons in the leadoff spot, but has transitioned into the third position in the order the last two weeks. Gilmore is a career .311 hitter, and has proven to be a wizard on the base-paths as well, stealing a team-best 26 bases on just 29 attempts since 2012. Gilmore also led the Beavers with 36 walks last season, placing her 14th in the NCAA in walks per game with 0.82.
More Gilmore: Gilmore is already making her way into the Oregon State career record books. She is currently seventh in Beaver history with a .311 batting average, and is tied for fifth with 81 walks. Gilmore needs one more steal to tie Paige Lowe for 10th on OSU’s stolen bases list.
Gonzalez Goes Long: Freshman Alexis Gonzalez has settled into her role as Oregon State’s designated player. Batting primarily in the cleanup spot, Gonzalez has hit .370 over the last 10 games, with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Gonzalez has started 14 of Oregon State’s 16 games this season, second only to catcher Kylie Padilla among Beaver freshmen.
Kori Comes Through: Kori Nishitomi has opened her Oregon State career on a strong note, after transferring from Longwood in the summer. Nishitomi is hitting .391 through the first 16 games of the year, and has been rewarded by being moved up to the leadoff spot. The Kaneohe, Hawaii, native has been particularly hot at the plate in the last few weeks, hitting .393 with a .485 on-base percentage over the last 10 games. She has scored 11 runs this season, and has walked twice.
Amanda’s Arm: Senior pitcher Amanda Najdek has led Oregon State in the circle so far this season, and continued to show what she can do at the Mary Nutter Classic this week. The Beaverton, Ore., native made four appearances and three starts in Cathedral City, posting two complete games and allowing just 11 earned runs over the five-game tournament. Her week was highlighted by 5.1 innings of relief work against Tennessee on Saturday, in which she allowed just four hits and one earned run. Najdek has found most of her success by keeping opponents in the infield. Of the 107 outs she has recorded this season, 87 of them have come on ground balls.
Padilla Makes Her Mark: Freshman made her presence felt in the Oregon State lineup during the first six games of the season. The Catcher from Chino, Calif. went 10-for-21 to open her collegiate career with 10 RBIs, six extra-base hits and two runs. Here is a list of Padilla’s accomplishments over the first weekend of the season:
-Became the first player in school history to hit for the cycle (vs. Penn State)
-Tied a school record with seven RBIs in a game (vs. Penn State)
-Is the first player in Oregon State history to tally six extra-base hits in the first six games of her career.
-Has the best batting average (.476) of any freshman in her first six games since Vanessa Iapala hit .529 in the first six games of 2006.
Going for 3: This year’s Oregon State recruiting class was ranked third in the nation by StudentSports.com, and includes four of the site’s top 40 recruits. Alysha Everett is Student Sports’ 23rd-ranked recruit, following an impressive display at PGF Nationals over the summer, as she hit .409 in bracket play. 27th-ranked Gina Bond is considered to be one of the top home-run hitters in the country, and has earned 6A Three Rivers first team honors three times. McKenna Arriola is StudentSports.com’s 33rd-rated recruit. She hit .541, with 33 runs, 23 RBIs and 12 steals at Camino Real High School last season, en-route to All-City honors. 40th-ranked Lovie Lopez batted .449 with five home runs as a junior for St. Paul High School last season. Pitcher Rainey Dyreson rounds out the class. She was named Great Basin (West) Conference Pitcher of the Year in her freshman and sophomore years, and has competed in the PGF Nationals.