Softball Heads To Prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 21, 2001

CORVALLIS, Ore. -

SOFTBALL TO FACE NATION'S BEST,No. 16 BEAVERS HEAD TO PRESTIGIOUS NFCA LEAD-OFF CLASSIC FOR THREE DAYS

Friday February 23, 2001
No. 16 OSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma - 9 a.m. PST, Columbus, GA
No. 16 OSU vs. No. 19 South Carolina - 2:30 p.m. PST, Columbus, GA
(NFCA Leadoff Classic)

Saturday February 24, 2001
No. 16 OSU vs. San Diego State - 7 a.m. PST, Columbus, GA
Bracket Play Begins - TBA
(NFCA Leadoff Classic)

Sunday February 25, 2001
Bracket Play - TBA
(NFCA Leadoff Classic)

NFCA CLASSIC: The NFCA Leadoff Classic is one of the premier pre-season softball tournaments in the nation, showcasing 24 of the best teams in the country. Of the 24 teams in the field, 16 competed in NCAA postseason play in 2000 and 15 are ranked in the current USA/Today/NFCA Top 25. The tournament format consists of six, four-team pools. Following pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams, will advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The remaining four teams will be placed in the Silver Championship Bracket and the remaining eight teams will be assigned to the Bronze Championship Bracket. All brackets will be single elimination consolation. Members of OSU's pool (#1) will be No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 19 South Carolina and San Diego State.

SCOUTING OKLAHOMA: University of Oklahoma brings an 8-0 record and No. 3 ranking into Friday's game against Oregon State. The Sooners return 12 players as well as eight starters from last season's World Series championship team. Pitcher Jennifer Stewart has 32 strikeouts and a 1.24 ERA while starting the season with a perfect 5-0 record. Seven OU players are hitting over .400 on the season while sophomore shortstop Kelli Braitsch leads the squad with a .583 batting average and a 1.042 slugging percentage. Oklahoma has committed just one error in its first eight games.

SOONERS AND BEAVERS LAST SEASON: Oklahoma thumped Oregon State, 9-0 in the first meeting between the teams last season (Mar. 16). The Beavers tallied just three hits in the contest and OU belted four homeruns. OSU and Oklahoma met again in the NCAA Regional Tournament (May 21). The Sooners held on for a 3-2 victory as Oregon State threatened but left runners on base in both the fifth and sixth inning. Oregon State has a 2-6 all-time record against Oklahoma and the Beavers are 2-4 against the Sooners under the direction of head coach Kirk Walker.

SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA: No. 19 ranked South Carolina enters the NFCA Leadoff Classic with an 8-6 overall record. The youthful Lady Gamecocks have just three seniors on their squad and are looking to break a two-game losing streak. Senior Megan Donohoo leads the squad with a .366 batting average while fellow senior Joyce McMillin has belted four homeruns and has 14 RBI. Oregon State has a perfect 2-0 series record against South Carolina and is 1-0 with Kirk Walker at the helm.

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE: San Diego State enters the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a 6-4 record. The Aztecs have three victories this season against Top-25 teams, including a 6-5 victory against No. 11 Michigan last week. Junior Sarah Hershman is hitting .370 to lead the squad. Oregon State leads the overall series with San Diego State, 7-6, but the Beavers are 2-3 against the Azetecs with Kirk Walker at the helm.

WHAT HAPPENED IN LAS VEGAS: Oregon State finished the UNLV Tournament with a 4-1 record with its only loss coming against No. 25 Utah. OSU out-scored its opponents 29-4 in its four victories but the Beavers offense and defense came out sluggish against Utah, as the Utes tallied a 12-6 win. Pitcher Crystal Draper picked up a pair of wins on the weekend, including her third shutout (4-0 vs Florida International) to improve her record to 8-1 on the season. Fellow pitcher, Kaitlin Wilson improved her record to 2-0 after striking out 11 batters in OSU's 12-1 5-inning victory against Fordham last Saturday. Offensively, sophomore Clare Burnum led all Beaver players at the tournament, going 7-for-13 (.538) with a double, triple, and .769 slugging percentage. For the season, Burnum is third on the squad with a .359 batting average and leads Oregon State in triples with two.

NATIONALLY RANKED: Oregon State remains ranked No. 16 after the first official USA Today/NFCA poll of the 2001 season which came out Sunday (Feb. 18). Pac-10 Conference foe, UCLA is currently ranked No. 1 while Arizona ranks No. 2. The Beavers garnered a No. 12 final ranking after last season's 40-21-1 record.

FACING THE BEST: Oregon State finished the 2000 campaign with a 12-17 record against nationally ranked opponents. The Beavers have a tough road in front of them this week, facing No. 3 Oklahoma in Friday's opening game of the NFCA Classic followed by a tilt with No. 19 South Carolina on Saturday morning. OSU has a 2-1 record against ranked foes this season. The Beavers stopped No. 23 Mississippi State two times in the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Tournament (Feb. 9-10) but were knocked off by No. 25 Utah (12-6) Sunday, in the UNLV Tournament.

GETTING THE 'K': Oregon State's pitchers have combined for 101 strikeouts over the first 15 games of the season, an average of just nearly seven K's per game. The even more impressive number is that OSU's hurlers have walked just 19 batters all season.

HEAVY HITTER: Sophomore Steph Adams continues to lead the team in batting after the first 15 games of the season. Adams is batting .370 with 17 hits in 46 at bats. The former North Medford High grad also leads the squad in slugging percentage, .587. Adams finished the UNLV Tournament with seven hits in 18 appearances at the plate and belted three extra base hits. Adams' solo homerun last Friday against Loyola Marymount brings her career longball total to nine. The sophomore first baseman/outfielder currently ranks fourth in the OSU record books and needs just two more long balls to move into third place in the record book and surpass Kim Herman (1996-99).

CHARITON CONTINUES SUCCESS: Junior Michelle Chariton continues to shine for the Beavers. Chariton has stepped up her game tremendously in the opening 15 contests this season. Chariton, a career .250 hitter, is second on the team with a .368 batting average and has 14 hits in 38 at bats this season. The 5-7 outfielder had 14 hits in 52 games as a sophomore and just four RBI. Chariton has already knocked in eight runs this season, tying Shawna Feldt for the team's lead and doubling her career RBI total.

ON THE BASEPATH: Senior Brooke Rutschman is currently in third place in the OSU record books for stolen bases in her career. The centerfielder's 22 stolen bases are just nine steals away from passing Denise Smail (1976-79) and moving into second place.

DOMINATION: Freshman pitcher Kaitlin Wilson completely dominated the opposition in last Saturday's game against Fordham. Wilson struck out 11 batters in just five innings of action. The Corbett High grad faced 18 batters on the day, allowing just four hits, one run and one walk. Wilson, 2-0 on the season, has 21 strikeouts and just two walks in 14 innings.

FAST FACT: Oregon State has been out-scored 8-7 in the first inning of the opening 15 games this season.

ANOTHER FAST FACT: The Beavers have dominated their opponents in the third inning this season. Oregon State has tallied 16 runs in the third skein while allowing its opponents to score just once.

TOUGH D: The 2000 Beavers set a school record with a .973 fielding percentage, committing just 47 errors in 1,270 attempts. Oregon State has committed 13 errors in the first 15 games this season and currently has a .970 fielding percentage, while its opponents have committed 28 errors for a .942 fielding percentage.

DOUBLING UP THE COMPETITION: Oregon State continues its dominance on the offensive end, knocking in 61 runs on the season while its opponents have just 28 RBI.

TWO-TIMING: Sophomore Steph Adams leads Oregon State's squad with seven multiple hit games this season. The North Medford High grad finished the 2000 campaign with five multiple hit outings.

TRIPLE-TIME: Oregon State has already doubled the number of triples it hit last season. The Beavers have blasted four three-baggers in the first 15 games while hitting just two triples during the 2000 season.

DRAPER KEEPS WINNING: Junior pitcher Crystal Draper improved her record to 8-1 this season with after finishing the UNLV Tournament with a perfect 2-0 mark. Draper's career total of 40 wins ranks fifth in the OSU record books. Draper is slowly moving closer to Trina Marvin's 48 career victories which ranks fourth on the Beavers' all-time list.

CURRENT STREAKS: Junior Michelle Chariton currently has a seven game hitting streak, the longest of any Beaver player this season and the most consecutive games that Chariton has reached base in her career. Clare Burnum has reached base safely in four consecutive games for the second longest current streak.

INJURY REPORT: Sophomore second baseman Brynnen Guthrie remains sidelined after undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery in October. The honorable mention Pacific 10 Conference all-star is expected to return to the line-up later this season.

IN THE DUGOUT: Third-year assistant coach Jenni Condon returns to Oregon State after a one-year stint at UNLV last season. Condon helped lead the Beavers to their first NCAA Regional Tournament appearance in 1999. Heather Chinn-Smith is back for her second season on the sidelines as an assistant after finishing her playing career with Oregon State in 1999.

THE WORD ON WALKER: Head coach Kirk Walker is in his seventh season at the helm for the Beavers. Walker, a graduate of UCLA, has turned around Oregon State's softball program to make it a contender on a national scale. Walker has an overall coaching record of 183-189-2 and a 42-114 mark in the Pacific-10 Conference. Prior to his arrival at Oregon State, Walker spent 11 seasons at national powerhouse UCLA as a manager and assistant coach. During his time in Westwood, the Bruins won six NCAA titles and made 10 appearances in the College World Series.

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