Fresno State softball is about to find out what it’s like to face professional players, and even some Olympians.
The Bulldogs will host the USSSA Pride at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Margie Wright Diamond, a fall exhibition against a National Pro Fastpitch club.
Featuring Selma native and former UCLA and U.S. Olympic star Andrea Duran, the Pride finished with the best record during this past season in the five-team pro league.
Wednesday’s exhibition is the fifth and final stop on the Pride’s fall tour, used to promote softball that’s played beyond the collegiate level.
It’s a great opportunity. Fresno really supports softball and I think we’ll see a lot of fans out here. We are very fortunate and I am excited.
Fresno State coach Trisha Ford on facing National Pro Fastpitch club USSSA Pride
“It’s going to be some good practice for our players and a great opportunity to take the field against some of the best softball players,” Fresno State coach Trisha Ford said.
Former Fresno State star Brenna Moss will play Wednesday night against the Bulldogs
The Florida-based Pride has fielded a 12-player roster during stops at Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly. It is unclear which Pride players will participate in the exhibition in Fresno – but former Fresno State star Brenna Moss will join them Wednesday night, despite playing for a different NPF team, the Chicago Bandits. Moss was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and just ended her college career this past season.
Fresno State returns eight starters from last year’s club that won a Mountain West championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including the conference’s Pitcher of the Year Jill Compton and Defensive Player of the Year Paige Gumz.
This spring will mark Ford’s fourth season with the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs add seven newcomers
Fresno State added seven players for the upcoming season, including Bullard High’s career home run and RBI leader Claire Stucker, who transferred from Mississippi State.
21 home runs 118 RBIs Bullard High career records set by Fresno State newcomer Claire Stucker
Stucker played sparingly last season, used only as a pinch-hitter in three games (with one hit) for a Mississippi State team that reached the NCAA Tournament.
But the 5-foot-11 sophomore figures to contend for playing time with Fresno State and could provide much-needed power after the Bulldogs totaled a conference-low 29 home runs last season.
Fresno State also brought in junior center fielder Lindsey Willmon, who started for Hawaii and hit .271 last season.
Fresno State vs. USSSA Pride
Vitals: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Margie Wright Diamond
USSSA Pride skinny: One of five teams that make up the National Pro Fastpitch league, the Pride owned the best regular-season record this past season … NPF is considered the country’s top professional level of softball … Wednesday will be the Pride’s fifth and final exhibition stop during its fall tour, which is used to promote softball beyond the collegiate level … Pride most recently defeated Cal Poly 13-4 on Monday … though it’s unclear which Pride players will play in Fresno, the roster includes four-time All-American (at Texas) and 2004 Olympic gold medalist pitcher Cat Osterman … also on the Pride is Selma native and former UCLA star Andrea Duran, who has played in the NPF the past six seasons and was the 2014 Player of the Year … Duran was part of the USA team that won a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics
Bulldogs skinny: Return eight seniors, including Mountain West Pitcher of the Year Jill Compton and Defensive Player of the Year Paige Gumz … Bulldogs also return outfielder Kierra Willis and second baseman Malia Rivers, two key cogs to the Bulldogs offense … Fresno State won the conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season … coach Trisha Ford enters her fourth season at Fresno State