The Fresno State softball team, with a youthful pitchers and a new hitting lineup, for the a long stretch, has had to adjust to the young season without the comfort of playing at home.
Fresno State (10-8) has played one game (a 3-2 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Feb. 20) at home since its first seven games of the season, and won’t play at home again until March 7, when it hosts the six-team Fresno State Classic.
Fresno State will continue its road stretch this weekend in the San Diego State Classic I (its third consecutive weekend road tournament) against Brigham Young, UCLA, Utah State, Long Beach State and San Diego.
“The growing pains that we’re getting on the road are what’re going to make us better in the end of the year,” said Fresno State coach Trisha Ford. “I think us learning those life lessons now are really going to help us when it comes down to conference play and hopefully the postseason.”
And while the Bulldogs have had to speed the maturation process in its stable of pitchers, there have have seen glimpses of potential.
Freshman righty Jill Compton threw her first career no-hitter – the 20th pitcher in Fresno State softball history to do so – against Saint Mary’s in the Santa Clara Tournament.
Compton (59.2 innings pitched) and fellow freshmen Hannah Harris (33.2) and Taylor Langdon (26), are still a work in progress, Ford said. They have thrown the majority of the innings and form the nucleus in the circle.
“They’re getting there,” Ford said of the trio. “There’s still a large learning curve for them. They’re starting to get there, and they’re starting to understand.
“Taylor Langdon came in this weekend and had some very solid innings for us. She’s learning how to keep the ball down, learning how to hit her spots and mix speeds so she’s definitely developing.
“Hannah right now is still trying to get her legs underneath her. She had a little bit of an illness and cleared up. So she’s just now getting back to 100 percent. She’s working hard. I definitely see both of them taking on bigger loads.”
The Bulldogs’ batting lineup has helped ease the pressure on the three freshman pitchers. Brooke Ortiz (batting .361), Brenna Moss (.338) and Paige Gumz (.333) headline the Bulldogs’ hitters.
For Compton, who is 5-5 in the circle, the key to improvement is to “just take everything one pitch at a time,” she said. “Really slow down the game and work it to our advantage.”
Added Ford: “There are not a lot of teams out there that have a lot of freshmen and sophomores starting than us. The types of lessons and learning opportunities that they’re getting are really second to none.”