Though the Fresno weather has offered mixed signals of its transition from winter to spring, make no mistake: Fresno State’s spring sports season will be in full effect Friday.
The Bulldogs’ baseball team opens its 14th season under coach Mike Batesole by hosting Creighton for a three-game series starting at 6:05 p.m. at Beiden Field.
Fresno State, coming off a 31-28 season, is looking to to re-enter the conference championship picture this season after struggling since joining the Mountain West.
“A little bit of anxiousness, excitement, a whole bunch of feelings,” said Fresno State outfielder Austin Guibor. “We’re ready to get out there and finally start playing some other teams.”
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The Bulldogs softball team, meanwhile, already has found its groove and gained some attention, too. With a 5-0 start highlighted by a pair of wins against ranked opponents on the road, the Bulldogs are ranked heading into their first home games of the season.
The softball team, ranked 22nd in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, will host Kansas at 4 p.m. at Margie Wright Diamond as part of the three-day, four-team Fresno State Kick-Off.
A little bit of anxiousness, excitement, a whole bunch of feelings.
Fresno State junior Austin Guibor on the baseball season beginning Friday
Baseball – After dominating during summer ball then blanking the alumni team during a friendly exhibition last week, sophomore left-hander Ricky Thomas has been named the Opending Day starter.
“It’s definitely an honor, been dreaming of this day,” Thomas said. “Definitely learned how to throw my offspeed, throw more strikes, be confident in my pitches.”
He went 4-3 with a 3.92 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings last season.
Fresno State sophomore left-hander Ricky Thomas went 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 10 appearances in the Cape Cod League last summer.
But while playing summer ball in the Cape Cod League, Thomas went 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 10 appearances. He’s since rocketed up major league draft watch lists and is ranked 51st in the 2017 MLB draft by D1Baseball.com.
Thomas, who has four pitches and throws in the high 80s to low 90s, believes he’s developed a strong tempo out of his windup and can locate his offspeed pitches better than last season. He pitched six scoreless innings during Fresno State’s annual exhibition against a collection of alumni players that included past conference player of the year winners.
“They’re young, but I think they’re going to be good,” said former Fresno State outfielder Steve Susdorf, who was the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2008 and part of the Bulldogs’ national championship team.
Softball – Back in the national rankings for the first time since 2011, Fresno State has been living up to its preseason expectation when the Bulldogs were picked to win the Mountain West.
No. 22/24 Fresno State softball’s ranking in two national polls, ranked again for the first time since 2011
Fresno State (5-0) is No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 and No. 24 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Softball Coaches Poll.
But perhaps the Bulldogs’ early success this season shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
During an exhibition in October, Fresno State nearly defeated a professional softball team before surrendering two runs in the seventh and falling 4-3 to the USSSA Pride.
Coach Trisha Ford, who is in her fourth season, said then that she was highly encouraged by her team’s showing and that that game could be a confidence booster.
Et cetera – Kristin Simonsen, a midyear transfer from Norway, was named Mountain West women’s Golfer of the Week. Simonsen earned a top-15 finish with an average score of 73.5 at the Peg Barnard Invitational.
▪ The Fresno State lacrosse team will try to go 2-1 to start the season for the first time, hosting Colorado at noon Sunday. Nicole Ortlieb has powered the Bulldogs with five goals over the first two games, the most by a Fresno State player since 2013.