Sophomore Brenna Moss (5) during the 2012 season. Dalton Runberg . The Collegian.

Softball: Ford, ’Dogs ready for season Kick-Off

Sophomore Brenna Moss (5) during the 2012 season. Dalton Runberg . The Collegian.

Sophomore Brenna Moss (5) during the 2012 season. Dalton Runberg . The Collegian.

Since being hired as the fourth head softball coach in Fresno State history on June 18, Trisha Ford has been working to get her team ready for the 2013 season.

All the hard work put in by Ford, her coaching staff and her players will finally be put on display when the Bulldogs open their season in the Fresno State Kick-Off Tournament today.

“It is an exciting time right now,” Ford said before practice Wednesday. “The players have put in a lot of hard work, and they want to get out on the field and see what that hard work is going to produce.”

Fresno State opens the tournament against UTEP at 4:30 p.m. The Bulldogs will play two games today with the nightcap of their doubleheader coming against UC Riverside at 7 p.m.

Fresno State will also play Southern Mississippi  (1:30 p.m.) and UC Davis (6 p.m.) on Saturday and Sacramento State (3:45 p.m.) on Sunday.

“All of them will be big,” Ford said when asked what game she was looking forward to. “This is the first time playing in front of the Red Wave, the first time for our hitters being in uniform and with people in the stands. I think they’re all going to be big. We have some big out-of-conference and out-of-region matchups that will help us in the postseason.”

Picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference by the league’s coaches, Ford said she hopes the Kick-Off tournament will help get her team ready for conference play and the postseason.

The Bulldogs return 13 players from last year’s roster, including the team’s top three hitters – Brenna Moss, Stesha Brazil and Brooke Ortiz.

With a lineup featuring those three players, the Bulldogs enter the season excited about their offensive prospects.

But an area of concern may begin with the team’s pitching staff. The Bulldogs lost their two top pitchers from last year – seniors Michelle Moses and Mackenzie Oakes – and will look to a trio of freshmen to log major innings in the circle.

It isn’t clear who will be the team’s No. 1 starter, but Ford said she likes the effort and development she has seen out of Jillian Compton, Hannah Harris and Taylor Langdon.

“It’ll be a work in progress throughout the season,” Ford said. “All three of them have made huge strides in their work, perfecting their motion, their pitches and learning some new things on pitching like the importance of hitting your spots and getting ahead of batters and those types of things. It’ll be a work in progress.”

The Bulldogs have some time to figure out what they want to do with their pitching rotation.

They don’t begin the Mountain West Conference season until March 28, and the postseason doesn’t start until May 16.

“The whole thing is a journey,” Ford said. “Our season is very long, being 56 games and hopefully additional games after that in the postseason. It can’t be a sprint. It is a long race. I am happy with where we are at, knowing we’re going to have to improve though.”