Softball Swings Into Action Saturday

Jan. 30, 2001



Saturday February 3, 2001
OSU vs. Brigham Young - 10 a.m. PST, St.George, UT
OSU vs. Southern Utah - 2 p.m. PST, St. George, UT
OSU vs. Brigham Young - 4 p.m. PST, St. George, UT
(Southern Utah Tournament)

Sunday February 4, 2001
OSU vs. Saint Mary's - 10 a.m.PST,St.George,UT
(Southern Utah Tournament)

LOOKING BACK: Oregon State finished one game shy of the College World Series for the second consecutive season after suffering a 3-2 loss against eventual National Champion Oklahoma in the 2000 NCAA Regional Tournament. The Beavers finished the season No. 12 in the final NFCA poll while setting school records for fielding percentage (.973) and fewest errors (47). OSU topped its second consecutive 40-win season with three NCAA All-Regional Tournament honorees (Tarrah Beyster, Shawna Feldt, Crystal Draper) and three All-Pacific-10 selections (Tarrah Beyster, Shawna Feldt, Brynnen Guthrie).

LOOKING FORWARD: Twelve players and seven starters return for the Beavers in search of a third consecutive playoff run. OSU will utilize the arms of junior pitcher Crystal Draper and freshman hurler Monica Hoffman to off-set the loss of All-American Tarrah Beyster. Oregon State will rely on depth and versatility as the youthful squad boasts just two seniors. Shortstop Shawna Feldt will anchor the infield while centerfielder Brooke Rutschman will be a key figure in the grass.

NATIONALLY RANKED: Oregon State enters the 2001 season with a No. 16 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA pre-season poll. Pac-10 Conference foe, UCLA is currently ranked No. 1. The Beavers garnered a No. 12 final ranking after last season's 40-21-1 record.

THE SERIES NUMBERS: Oregon State's season opener against Brigham Young University marks the first time that the two squads have faced each other. The Beavers lead the all-time series with Southern Utah 5-3 and are a perfect 3-0 against the Thunderbirds with Kirk Walker at the helm. OSU leads the all-time series with Saint Mary's9-3. The Beavers are a perfect 7-0 against the Gaels with Kirk Walker at the helm.

ON THE MOUND: Crystal Draper returns to the mound for her junior campaign after earning NCAA All-Regional Tournament honors the past two seasons and honorable mention All-Pac-10 Conference accolades as a freshman in 1999. Joining Draper on the mound will be a pair of freshmen with very successful prep careers. Monica Hoffman dons the orange and black after graduating from Central Catholic High (Portland, OR), while Kaitlin Wilson completed her high school career at Corbett (Corbett, OR).

WALKER ON THE PITCHERS: 'I'm very excited about this season's pitching staff. Crystal's experience and her health is so much better than it's ever been that we're expecting her to be our rock in that position. Monica has shown excellent potential and success in the fall, she has improved tremendously over the past few months. She will be someone who will certainly learn while her first year of college is going on and will be an impact player on the mound right away. Having the two of them will make a huge difference for us in terms of being competitive in the Pac-10. Kaitlin brings in great potential, great size and great power. As she is getting more and more comfortable with the mechanics, we are seeing potentially how dominating she can be.'

BEHIND THE PLATE: Both junior Traci Feldt and sophomore Shelly Prochaska split time behind the plate last season and with both players having so much success sharing the position, things look to remain the same heading into 2001.

WALKER ON THE CATCHERS: 'Both of our catchers split the season last year, both of them should make an impact for us again this year, offensively as well as defensively. Their leadership behind the plate has been excellent. I feel like we have two of the best in the conference and getting each of them playing time and experience is our goal again this year.'

FIRST BASE: Oregon State will be forced to replace the loss of Jenni Jodoin, an All-Pac-10 Conference star, who had been a three-year starter for the Beavers. Sophomores Shelly Prochaska and Stephanie Adams will be counted on to fill the role and have performed well in fall practice.

WALKER ON FIRST: 'We're going to have a growing experience at first base, which is an important position but Shelly Prochaska and Stephanie Adams are both working to fill the void and be able to sure up that position. We're not going to be able to replace Jenni Jodoin's defense immediately but I think both Shelly and Steph are capable of doing some good things there.'

SECOND BASE: The fight is still on at second base with last season's honorable mention All-Pac-10 Conference player, Brynnen Guthrie, currently sidelined after reconstructive shoulder surgery in the off-season. With Guthrie's status for the season still in question, Clare Burnum and Cara Maxey are battling for the starting job.

WALKER ON SECOND: 'Clare Burnum and Cara Maxey are fighting diligently for that position and are both doing a great job. Both of them will probably be in the lineup somewhere, if not at second base then probably in the outfield. If Brynnen is able to get back defensively and play, then she certainly makes that an interesting situation.'

SHORTSTOP: Shortstop is definitely the most stable position on the field for the Beavers as Shawna Feldt returns for her senior season. Feldt has earned back-to-back honorable mention All-Pac-10 Conference honors and was selected to the NCAA Regional Tournament team last season. The 5-6 senior, currently ranks in the OSU Top-10 in three career batting categories: hits (142), singles (116) and stolen bases (19).

WALKER ON SHORT: 'At shortstop there is no question in my mind that we have one of the best in the country with Shawna Feldt. We look for great things out of her senior year, it's her third year in this program and she is very focused on helping the team get farther than we've ever been.'

THIRD BASE: Perhaps the most hotly-contested position for the Beavers will be at third base, where there are at least three legitimate contenders vying for the starting spot. Sophomore Shannon Sorg is the most experienced player at the position but fellow second-year players Stephanie Adams and Shelly Prochaska could also see playing time at the hot-corner.

WALKER ON THIRD: 'At third base we're going to mix it up a little bit again. Right now we've got two or three people competing for that spot. Shannon Sorg is getting a majority of the time right now with Stephanie Adams and Shelly Prochaska also competing to be in that spot. We've got a lot of options so things may come down to who's hitting at any given time. Shannon has done a great job there and is probably our most consistent player in that position right now.'

THE OUTFIELD: Oregon State's outfield is filled with experience for this season's run for a trip to the College World Series. Senior Brooke Rutschman is currently in position for the starting job in centerfield after beginning the 2000 campaign with a team-high 13-game hitting streak, while a pair of juniors, Michelle Chariton and Michelle Notaro, should see action as well as a group of sophomores, Cara Maxey, Clare Burnum, Jessica King and Kristin Bishop. Any and all players could see playing time throughout the season.

WALKER ON THE OUTFIELD: 'We return some great experience in the outfield. Brooke Rutschman is on pace to be our starting centerfielder and has the capability to bring some excellent leadership to the position. Michelle Chariton is doing a great job offensively and continues to be solid on defense for us and Cara Maxey did a great job for us as a freshman in left field. Clare Burnum is doing some great things and Michelle Notaro is doing well also, so we've got a lot of options, Jessica King is another outfielder that could find some playing time depending on how hitting goes. We've got great depth in the outfield and once again it may all come down to who is hitting.'

CURRENT STREAKS: Four Oregon State players enter the season opener against Brigham Young with hitting streaks carried over from last season still intact. Seniors Shawna Feldt and Brooke Rutschman bring in the longest streaks with Feldt having hit in six consecutive outings and Rutschman in three-straight. Sophomores Jessica King and Cara Maxey each have one-game streaks alive from 2000.

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 enters 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 171-186-2 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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