Coming into the 2013 season, the first under Fresno State coach Trisha Ford, the Bulldogs will rely on an aggressive new style on the base paths and a young pitching staff to guide them through the season.
Ford plans to use the top of her order — with players like leadoff hitter and centerfielder Brenna Moss and second baseman Brooke Ortiz — to execute a style of offense that can take advantage of the speed the team posseses.
“We’re going to stay aggressive,” Ford said. “There are going to be times where it pays off and there are going to be times where it doesn’t. We’ve got good team speed and we’re going to put pressure on the defense.”
In the first five games of the season the Bulldogs snagged nine stolen bases in the Fresno State Kick-Off at Bulldog Diamond, only getting thrown out once.
Eight of those steals came from Ortiz and Moss.
“It’s just knowing our strengths and other teams’ weaknesses, putting people in motion, doing some hit and runs, bunt and runs,” Ford said.
“Just making people have to move laterally in order for us to get the kind of results we’re looking for.”
The Bulldogs will also be relying on a pitching staff made up completely of freshmen and sophomores.
Freshmen Jillian Compton, Hannah Harris and Taylor Langdon look to leave their mark at Fresno State for the first time, while sophomore Destineé Levesque looks to grow on her seven appearances from last season.
“We’ve got a lot of room for improvement,” Ford said of her young pitching staff. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but as long as we continue to get better every game, pitch by pitch, we’re going to be ok.”
Compton seems to be the de facto ace going into the season, having logged 28 innings in the circle during the first five games. She made appearances in all five of those games, starting four of them, and has a 4-1 record to start her career as a Bulldog.
The Bulldogs still have power though, with the likes of Stesha Brazil and Vonnie Martin. College Sports Madness named Martin to its preseason All-Mountain West second team back in January.
Both knocked out home runs during the Kick-Off. Brazil’s came in a 5-3 extra inning loss to Southern Miss. Martin’s came in the form of a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning of the Bulldogs first game of the season. It helped lead them to a 10-2 win over UTEP.
Ford said that grand slam would not have happened without the rest of the team doing the little things to put runners in place for Martin.
“Those are kind of storybook moments,” Ford said, “but really why we were able to get in that position was some good base running, some girls worked the counts in order for Vonnie to get up. Vonnie got a good pitch, put a good swing and she’s a strong girl, so she’s going to put some damage on the ball.”