Beavers Set to Open Season in Tempe
Let’s Play Ball: Oregon State opens its season this week, as it heads to Tempe, Ariz. to take part in the Kajikawa Classic for the fourth consecutive season. The Beavers will open their 2014 campaign Thursday at 3 p.m. PT, when they take on North Carolina State. OSU will then follow that up with a game against San Diego State later that evening. Oregon State will face Penn State and Cal State Northridge on Friday, before closing out the tournament with games against Colorado State and Appalachian State Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 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: Oregon State will open the 2014 season by taking on North Carolina State Thursday at 3 p.m. PT. The Wolfpack returns 11 players from last season’s squad, which went 35-20-1 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title. North Carolina State ultimately made it to the NCAA Regional, before being eliminated by 2013 NCAA Runner-up Tennessee. The Wolfpack will welcome back both their leading hitter and leading pitcher to the 2014 squad. Junior Renada Davis hit .305 with 26 home runs last season, while classmate Emily Weiman tallied 33 wins and 271 strikeouts while posting an ERA of 1.97. Oregon State junior transfer CJ Chirichigno was able to get the best of the Wolfpack ace while playing for Boston College last season, however, going 2-for-7 with a pair of home runs over the course of the teams’ three-game series.Game 2: The Beavers will wrap up the opening day of the 2014 season by facing off with San Diego State Thursday at 5:30 p.m. PT. Oregon State last played the Aztecs at the 2013 Bayer CropScience Classic in Fresno. That contest featured an OSU offensive explosion, as the Beavers scored eight runs in the fifth inning to overcome a four-run deficit and defeat San Diego State 9-5. Dani Gilmore provided a spark for Oregon State in the contest, finishing with two hits, two runs, two RBIs and two walks. The Aztecs return seven starters from a team that finished 2013 36-20, and earned an NCAA Regional appearance after winning the Mountain West Conference. Senior Lorena Bauer will look to anchor the San Diego State lineup, following a season where she hit .401 with 13 home runs. Sophomore Danielle O’Toole will lead the pitching staff after the lefty recorded 14 wins and a 1.81 ERA in her freshman campaign.Game 3: Oregon State will begin day two of the season by taking on Penn State Friday at 11 a.m. PT. The Beavers last went up against the Nittany Lions back in 2007 at the Palm Springs Classic, with Oregon State shutting out Penn State 5-0. The Nittany Lions went 16-34 last season, and will be looking to replace the production of Cassidy Bell, who hit .456 with 20 home runs in 2013, her senior campaign. Sophomore Macy Jones will look provide a spark both at the plate and on the rubber, as the Auburn Va., native hit .274 with five home runs last season, while also compiling 13 wins and a 3.84 ERA.Game 4: The Beavers will cap-off action Friday with a game against Cal State Northridge at 1:30 p.m. PT. Oregon State last met the Matadors in 2012, when the teams played a double-header in Northridge. Oregon State won both games, defeating Cal State Northridge 13-1 (5 innings) in the opener before closing out the day with a 5-1 victory. The Matadors went 25-31 last season, and the team has graduated its two top hitters from 2013, Mikayla Thielges and Korinne Randazzo. Sophomore Marylynn Mitchell will look to take a step forward this season, after hitting .280 with 14 RBIs a year ago. The Matadors have also graduated pitchers Shelly Tait and Tanna Bindi, their leaders in wins last year. Junior Brianna Elder will look to pick up the slack after going 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 2013.Game 5: Oregon State will look to start its weekend off on a high note, as it goes head-to-head with Colorado State Saturday night at 6 p.m. PT. The Beavers dominated the Rams in 2013, beating them 11-0 in five innings at the Mary Nutter Classic.Colorado State finished 2013 25-24, and returns its top hitter, senior Ashile Ortega, who hit .381 with 28 RBIs last season. Sophomore pitcher Molly Reinke started 12 games last season, finishing the year with a 6-6 record and a 4.75 ERA.Game 6: The Beavers will close out the Kajikawa Classic Sunday at 9 a.m. PT against Appalachian State. Oregon State’s only other matchup with the Mountaineers came at the 2011 Kajikawa Classic, where the Beavers opened their season with an 8-0 win in five innings. Appalachian State returns eight starters from a squad that went 31-22 last season and won the Southern Conference. Senior catcher Sarah Warnock hit .376 with 35 runs last season, while junior pitcher Alissa Schoelkopf finished 2013 with a 20-12 record and a 3.14 ERA.Know Your History: The Beavers are 28-33 all-time against the six opponents they will face at the Kajikawa Classic. The Beavers have never fallen to Penn State or Appalachian State, holding records of 4-0 and 1-0 against those opponents, respectively. Oregon State holds a 6-1 mark against Colorado State, while it holds a 10-13 record in matchups with San Diego State and a 7-20 record in games against Cal State Northridge. Thursday’s contest will mark the first-ever matchup between the Beavers and North Carolina State.Leading It Off: Oregon State is 18-21 all-time in season openers, but the Beavers have won their last two and have done so in spectacular fashion, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 31-5. OSU topped BYU 22-5 in 2012’s season opener, before shutting out Stephen F. Austin 9-0 to start of 2013. Natalie Hampton got her career off to a strong start, hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning to seal the victory for the Beavers. Oregon State is 40-30 in season-opening tournaments since 1998.The Tip of the Ice-Berg: Head coach Laura Berg made a mark in her first season as the Beavers’ boss. The Fresno State graduate led Oregon State to a 34-24 record, including an NCAA Regional appearance. Berg’s team tied the Oregon State single-season record for batting average at .280, and finished fourth in school history with 277 runs. Berg has experience with success as a player as well, winning three Olympic gold medals and earning NCAA All-America honors during her career.It’s Hampton Time: Sophomore will look to pick up right where she left off, as the Beavers head into the 2014 season. The Antelope, Calif., native made a historic start to her Oregon State career, setting a school record with 50 RBIs and tallying 15 home runs, one short of the OSU mark held by Cambria Miranda and Tarrah Beyster. Hampton started all 58 games at first base in 2013, hitting .329, second only to on the team. Her 13 doubles led the Beavers, and for her efforts, Hampton earned Pac-12 Second Team honors. Give Me Gilmore: is part of a junior class that has found success in its two seasons at Oregon State. The outfielder locked down the leadoff spot last year, with all 130 of her 2013 at-bats coming from the top of the order. Gilmore has proven to be a threat from the plate, hitting .303 with 17 home runs over the course of her two years with Oregon State, 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 eighth in Beaver history with a .303 batting average, and is ninth with 75 walks, two away from tying Adrienne Alo for eighth. Gilmore needs one more steal to tie Paige Lowe for 10th on OSU’s stolen bases list.Ya Ya Ya…: Junior infielder Ya Garcia has started all 117 games Oregon State has played since entering the program as a freshman in 2012. Garcia has hit .276 in her first two seasons with the Beavers, tallying 42 runs and stealing 18 bases. While she has batted .263 when hitting higher up in the batting-order, Garcia made the No. 9 slot her own, hitting .353 last season when rounding out the Beaver lineup.Don’t Fall Behind: Oregon State was 23-7 last season when scoring first, and was especially strong when holding a late lead. The Beavers went 24-3 in 2013 when leading after four innings, 20-1 when leading after five innings and 18-0 when leading after six innings.Keep It Close: Oregon State went 13-4 last season in one-run games, including a 6-1 mark in games played at OSU Softball Complex. Not Too Shabby Shadinger: Sophomore Sarah Shadinger opened her Oregon State career on a bright note, striking out nine batters in her collegiate debut on Feb. 8 2013 against Creighton. That total proved to be highest number of strikeouts by any Beaver last season.Do Some (Pac-12) Networking: Oregon State will have 13 games televised on Pac-12 Networks this season, up from the 10 the Beavers had a year ago. Oregon State will make its 2013 TV debut on March 22, when it takes on Arizona in Tuscon. All three games in the series will be televised, as the two squads will also go head-to-head March 23-24.It Aint Easy: Oregon State faces a tough slate yet again in 2014. The Beavers will play 33 games against teams that made the NCAA postseason last year, including nine matchups with squads that advanced to the Women’s College World Series. The schedule also includes 11 opponents ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top-25 (No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 8 Oregon, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 13 UCLA, No. 18 Louisville, No. 20 Stanford, No. 24 California), and three teams receiving votes (Arizona, North Carolina State, Tulsa). Oregon State’s schedule is highlighted by games against defending national champion No. 2 Oklahoma and 2013 runner-up No. 1 Tennessee, with both games coming at the Mary Nutter Classic. Uncharted Territory: Junior transfer Melanie Dembinski is the first Oregon State player to hail from the state of Florida in program history. Dembinski attended Venice High School in Venice, Fla., before making a name for herself at Central Arizona College the last two seasons. She went 15-1 in her final season with the Vaqueras, tallying a 1.64 ERA and striking out 71 batters in 124 innings. She is joined by another rarity on the team, fellow transfer Kori Nishitomi. Nishitomi is the first Beaver to come from Hawaii since Angel Miller dawned the Orange and Black in the 1992 season. Nishitomi joins the Beavers after hitting .440 with 80 runs for Longwood last season.Transferring In: The Beavers welcome a trio of transfers to their 2014 squad, all three of which will look to make an immediate impact. spent her last two seasons at Longwood, compiling some impressive stats for the Lancers. The Kaneohe, Hawaii, native hit .440 and fielded 1.000. She is joined by fellow transfer , who joins the Beavers after hitting .256 with four home runs for Boston College in 2013. The transfer-trio is rounded out by pitcher , who comes to the Beavers after spending two seasons at Central Arizona College, where she went 15-1 with a 1.64 ERA in her sophomore campaign.Keep it Fresh: Oregon State features a significant youth-movement this season, as the Beavers have added seven freshmen to the roster. The group includes catcher Kylie Padilla, who helped Don Lugo High School reach the California State Championship game in 2012. She is joined by fellow catcher Alex Boyd, who led Woodinville High School to a Washington State Championship that same season. Pitcher Alleyah Armendariz struck out 20 batters in 20.2 innings for the Washington Ladyhawks PGF team in 2012 bracket play. Fellow pitcher Kylee Crape, who was named Oregon Pitcher of the Year twice in high school. Amee Aarhus will serve as a utility player after being named All-Region player of the year in 2012 while playing for Camas High School. Alexis Gonzalez can play catcher or third base, and was a four-time All Del Rey League performer in high school. Kiki Pepi will look to see time at the middle-infield positions after hitting .431 with 14 steals in her junior year at Kearny High School.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.