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UNLV SOFTBALL NEWS: Rebels Host First-Place Fresno State In Crucial Mountain West Series

 

REBELS HOST FIRST-PLACE FRESNO STATE IN CRUCIAL MW SERIES  

 

Second-place UNLV will take on the conference-leading Bulldogs for three at Eller Media Stadium this weekend 

 

@UNLVSoftball | 2021 Schedule (Web) | Notes  

 

UNLV (23-11, 15-3) vs. Fresno State (30-7, 14-1)

The UNLV softball team will be back at Eller Media Stadium this weekend for its final home Mountain West series, hosting first-place Fresno State, May 1-2, with its conference title hopes on the line. Fresno State and UNLV were picked to finish one-two in the preseason poll, so this series has been circled on both teams’ calendars since the schedule was released.

 

The two squads have been on a crash course towards this weekend with Fresno State winning 13 straight and UNLV winning 12 of its last 15. The Bulldogs have lost just one league game at 14-1, while the Rebels have won every conference series for a 15-3 mark. UNLV only has six Mountain West games remaining with its league bye week scheduled for the final weekend of the regular season and Fresno State has nine left, so every game left for UNLV is the most important game of the season. With the Rebels having two more losses than FS, a series win is imperative in order to keep the conference title hopes alive. This is the biggest weekend for the Rebels in over a decade as they try to win their first-ever Mountain West Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

 

While Fresno State came out on top in the last meeting, taking two of three in Las Vegas in 2019, the Rebels have won four of the last six, which included the program’s first-ever three-game sweep over the Bulldogs, which took place in Fresno in May of 2018. The 2021 matchup will be a battle as the two teams sit in the top two in almost every major statistical category both on offense and in the circle. The Fresno State pitching staff will be a challenge for UNLV as Fresno comes to Las Vegas having not allowed a single run in six straight games.

 

Saturday will feature a doubleheader set for 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. with the series finale on Sunday at noon. Sunday’s game will also serve as Senior Day for four Rebels – OF Jaclyn Candelas, P Charlie Masterson, 2B Justine Federe and CF Lauren Tycksen. The group will be honored at the conclusion of the game in a special presentation.

 

After this weekend, UNLV will be on the road at in-state rival UNR for its final Mountain West series of the regular season, taking place May 8-9 in Reno.

 

QUICK HITTERS
• Kristie Fox is in her fourth season with a 113-50 record. Fox reached the 100-win mark with a 2-0 win over Utah Valley at home on March 6, 2021
• She is the fastest coach to reach the 100-win milestone at UNLV, doing it in only 143 games
• The Rebels started 11-4 or better through the first 15 games in all four years Fox has been at the helm, including a 12-3 record in 2019
• UNLV’s longest winning streak this season in four games.
• UNLV’s longest losing streak this season is four, which is the second longest under Coach Fox as the Rebels just had one longer – a five-game streak in her first season in 2018
• The Rebels have won all five of their Mountain West series in 2021 (three conference wins in a sixth series were awarded via San Jose State forfeit)
• UNLV was as high as No. 51 in the RPI at one point this season and will enter the weekend against the Bulldogs at No. 72 in the current RPI rankings. Fresno State currently sits at No. 62 and San Diego State is the only other Mountain West team in the top-100 at No. 95
• UNLV has won all of its Mountain West series in in 2021 (a sixth series was forfeited by San Jose State)
• The Rebels took two of three at Colorado State, marking the third series win the last four meetings between the squads
• UNLV’s series win over New Mexico was its third straight over the Lobos, while they have won seven of the last nine over UNM
• After the UNM series win, junior Denise Armendariz earned her first career MW Player of the Week honor after going 4-for-7 (.571) with six RBI, one double and a walk. In the 5-0 game-one win, Armendariz drove in three of the five runs, then drove in three of UNLV’s four runs in the 4-2 series finale win
• Junior Jenny Bressler pitched a complete-game no-hitter in the 5-0 win over the Lobos in game one. It was the second no-hitter of Bressler’s career (first in seven-innings), while it was just the sixth since 1995
• UNLV got a major monkey off its back with their sweep in Logan, April 10-11, as the Aggies had won eight of the last 11 matchups between the squads. It was the Rebels first series win over USU since 2015 and first sweep over the Aggies since 2014
• UNLV hit 17 home runs total over the first 26 games, which included nine along on opening weekend, UNLV hit 10 total at USU, April 10-11, then hit three more in the 9-1 game one-win over Colorado State. They now have 30 on the season, which ranks third in the MW
• After the sweep at USU, April 10-11, senior shortstop Samantha Diaz earned her second Mountain West Player of the Week of the season (third in her career) after going 6-for-10 (.600) with nine RBI and five runs scored in the three games. That included a home run in each game (one solo, one two-run and one three-run home run), marking her first dingers since she hit five on opening weekend (earning her first MW honor of the season)
• Under Fox, who is a San Diego native, the Rebels have won five of its last six games in San Diego, which included the program’s first-ever three-game sweep at SDSU in 2019 and the this year, the first back-to-back series wins there (no conference games were played in 2020)
• After the series in San Diego, March 27-28, the Rebels swept the Mountain West weekly awards, marking the 22nd time UNLV has earned both awards in the same week since joining the conference in 2000. Jenny Bressler was named the pitcher of the week for the third time in her career, while Justine Federe earned her second career weekly honor
• UNLV has swept Boise State and Utah State in 2021, marking the fourth and fifth sweeps in conference play in three conference seasons (2020 was canceled) under Fox, while it was the third straight series win over the Broncos since Fox took over
• UNLV ranks first in the MW with a .979 fielding percentage, which is tied for 11th in the country; the Rebels have committed just 19 errors in 34 games, which is also a league-best
• UNLV is batting .286 through 34 games, which ranks second in the Mountain West. The Rebels also rank second in slugging percentage (.449), runs scored (169), hits (252), RBI (156) and doubles (47) and are third in on-base percentage (.360)
• Scoring first and early has been a recipe for success this year as UNLV is 16-3 when they score first and 16-2 when they lead after four innings
• Rebels have five players currently hitting over .300 (min. 20 at-bats) – freshman Jasmine Martin (.478), Denise Armendariz (.352), sophomore Maddie Schmidt (.324), senior Lauren Tycksen (.323) and senior Justine Federe (.305)
• Schmidt has been a consistent spark for the offense in the leadoff spot. Her 36 hits rank sixth in the MW while her 30 runs scored ranks second. She is also tied for fifth in stolen bases with 12, while teammate and senior Lauren Tycksen ranks third with 17 stolen bases
• Armendariz and Federe both extended their hitting streaks to nine games with hits in the opening game of the series at CSU last weekend, but the streaks ended there. The nine-gamers are the longest by any Rebel in 2021. Federe and freshman Janyssa Martin are also tied for season-high 15-game on-base streaks
• Janyssa Martin has had an impressive start to her collegiate career with a .298 average, 28 hits, 15 runs scored, five doubles, four home runs and 24 RBI. On opening weekend alone, the right fielder hit .727 with eight hits, seven RBI, two home runs, a double and five runs scored. In her first career at-bat she blasted a two-run home then, then topped that with a walk-off grand slam in the sixth inning against Dixie State. Against Utah State, Martin added her second grand slam of the year helping the Rebels rout USU 17-0 in five innings. Martin has 15-game on-base this streak with Tycksen coming in with the second-best on-base streak of 12 games
• Armendariz has been a consistent force at the plate, leading the team with a .352 average and 13 doubles to go along with 15 runs scored and 21 RBI and two home runs. Fifteen of of her 31 total hits have gone for extra bases, with her 13 doubles ranking first in the MW and tied for 16th in the country
• Senior Lauryn Tycsken and sophomore Maddie Schmidt have combined for 29 of UNLV’s 38 stolen bases in 2021 with Schmidt with 12 and Tycksen with 17
• Lauren Tycksen leads all Rebels with 11 multi-hit games in 2021, while senior Samantha Diaz has a team-best eight multi-RBI games. Diaz leads the team with 30 RBI on the season
• The Rebels have been clutch with runners in scoring position, hitting .300. Pinch-hitting has also been successful as UNLV is hitting .344 in those situations
• UNLV added a fifth grand slam of the year on a Justine Federe grand slam in the fifth inning in the 9-1 game-one win at CSU. a fourth grand slam of the year on a Janyssa Martin grand slam in the first inning of an eventual 17-0 win over USU on April 11. The Rebels hit three grand slams on opening weekend and a fourth came in a 17-0 win over Utah State. Federe and Martin have two apiece in 2021. The five are now the most since UNLV hit six in 2009, while it’s just the ninth time since joining the Mountain West in 2000 the Rebels have had three or more in a season. Prior to opening weekend, the Rebels had not hit a grand slam in the Fox era
• The pitching staff as a whole has been solid in 2021 with a 2.90 ERA that ranks second in the MW. The 12 shutouts are second in the MW and rank tied for 22nd in the country
• Bressler picked another Mountain West win at CSU, allowing just one home run as the only hit int he 9-1 series opening win in five innings. She is now 14-5 on the year, including 9-1 in conference play
• Bressler ERA stands at 2.06, which ranks third in the Mountain West. The junior has won all nine of her 10 starts in Mountain West play, throwing complete games in seven of them. Opponents are hitting just .193 off of Bressler, which ranks second in the MW, while her 118 strikeouts also rank second
• In just over two and half seasons, Bressler has now amassed 48 career wins, which already ranks seventh all-time in program history
• Senior Charlie Masterson has also been steady in the circle, going 5-3 with a 2.33 ERA and 38 strikeouts. Her best three performances of the season came in her last three starts – a 1-0 shutout in game two at CSU to clinch the series on April 24, a 6-0 game-two win over Utah State on April 10, where she pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing just four hits in 7.0 innings pitched and a 1-0 loss in game two against New Mexico, where she allowed no earned runs in a complete-game
• Freshman Jenna Perez has been impressive in her first collegiate season. She is 2-1 on the year with a 4.55 ERA. At the Boyd Gaming Classic, March 5-7, she won her first two collegiate starts with a 1.40 ERA, two runs allowed in 10.0 innings pitched and 13 strikeouts. In her Rebel debut, she recorded three strikeouts in one inning of relief again Southern Utah on Friday, Feb. 12
• Senior Samantha Diaz had a career opening weekend at the plate, hitting five home runs (two two-run homers, two three-run homers and first career grand slam) to go along with 13 RBI and six runs scored. One three-run homer came against Dixie State for the walk-off fifth inning win, while the grand slam tied the game up at five against Southern Utah. Diaz earned the Mountain West Player of the Week award on February 16 for her performance
• The Rebels were picked to finish second in the Mountain West Coaches Preseason Poll – their highest predicted finish since 2012 and just the fourth time since they joined the conference in 2000 they had ranked higher than third in the annual poll
• Andy Jarvis was promoted to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2020 campaign after being an integral part of the success at the plate and the stellar defense in the outfield
• Pitching coach Emily Vincent, who was a standout pitcher at McNeese State, is in third season after leading the pitching staff to the top ERA in the conference each of the last two seasons

LIVE STATS/UPDATES
Live video links will be available for all three games in the series, with Saturday’s games being broadcast on the Mountain West Network. Links are available on www.UNLVRebels.com. Live updates can also be found by following @UNLVSoftball on twitter.

 

Summary
Article Name
UNLV SOFTBALL NEWS: Rebels Host First-Place Fresno State In Crucial Mountain West Series