Fresno State faces Hawaii for a first-place battle on the island

When Michelle Moses steps into the pitcher’s circle, she knows she controls the outcome of the game.

“I like to be in control of things so I feel like I have more control of what goes on [in the game] on the mound, so I’m pretty confident there,” Moses said.

Moses, along with the rest of the Bulldog pitching staff, will attempt to control the bats of No. 18 Hawaii in a three-game series for first-place in the Western Athletic Conference.

Moses, who earned her fifth-career WAC Pitcher of the Week award and second this season, and fellow ace Mackenzie Oakes will lead the Bulldogs in the circle against Hawaii.

“I think we’re pretty confident,” Moses said of the upcoming series. “We’ve done really well throughout the WAC and we’ve been pretty strong consistently. We have a big-time rivalry amongst are team during the last couple of years with [Hawaii] so I think everyone’s ready to go and I’m pretty confident.”

The Bulldogs are a half-game ahead of the Rainbow Wahine in the standings, and are in good position to extend that lead, said head coach Margie Wright.

“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position with where we are right now,” Wright said. “To go over there and do our best and take a couple of games, if not all three, is our plan.

“You’re in first place, you want to stay there,” she added.

The Bulldogs (31-17, 11-2 WAC) will attempt to knock off the Rainbow Wahine, (37-5, 11-3) who sport a 23-3 record at home.

Wright and her team know what Hawaii will bring to the table, as it too will play for its own chance to take control of the WAC. The Bulldogs have prepared mentally and physically for the battle in paradise.

“It’s our responsibility to execute the pitches where we know we need to execute them and it’s hard to do that if you’re not calm and confident and knowing what your responsibility is,” Wright said.

Moses, who is 20-11 overall this season with a 1.80 ERA, said pitching is more mental than physical to ensure control of the game.

“I think pitching is 70 percent mental and to have that mental toughness to come back with that same pitch to the same hitter,” Moses said. “You have to be confident being a pitcher in the circle and I think our whole pitching staff is really good at that.

“We’re not afraid to go back in the same spot against a batter who jacked one or anything like that,” she added.

That mental toughness is what has gotten the righthander 11 shutouts this season — the most of any pitcher in the WAC. In conference play, Moses is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA and has held opponents to a .159 batting average.

Wright compared the pitching position to that of a shortstop.

“They’ve got to make every play that gets hit to them, so the pitcher has to make every play, which is every pitch,” Wright said.

Fresno State will play Hawaii for a single game Friday at 9 p.m. and will close out the series with a Saturday doubleheader at 5 and 7 p.m.

“They’ll be great games,” Wright said. “We’re getting everybody focused on going to the islands and we’re there for one reason and that’s to play ball.

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