Omaha softball returns to action this weekend in St. George, Utah, at the Red Desert Classic.
Courtesy: Dirk Steffen

Omaha Set for Red Desert Classic

Omaha Athletics | March 01, 2017

Leading Off
The Omaha softball team heads southwest this weekend for five games at the Red Desert Classic, March 3-5, in St. George, Utah.  The Mavericks open with Montana and Utah State on Friday, March 3.  UNO plays Southern Utah and No. 17 Utah on Saturday, March 4 before wrapping up play against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.  When available, links to live stats will be posted on OMavs.com.
 
Quick Hits
• Omaha is 4-9 (0-0 Summit League) overall after a 1-4 weekend at the Interstate 75 Challenge in Atlanta, Ga.
• UNO will face Montana and UC Santa Barbara for the second time this season at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.  The Mavericks also will see Southern Utah, Utah State and No. 17 Utah for the first time this season.
• Last weekend, Omaha went 4-of-6 in stolen base attempts.  Senior Lizzie Noble, junior Kelly Pattison, freshman Vicky Kinney and freshman Hailey Bartz all swiped a base for the Mavericks.
• Senior Lizzie Noble led the Mavericks at the plate last weekend, batting .333 with a walk, three runs scored and a stolen base.
• Junior Kelly Pattison was 4-of-14 at the plate with a home run, two runs scored and three RBI.  She also added a stolen base.
• Senior right-hander Abbie Clanton finished the weekend 1-2 with six strikeouts, while sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker went 0-2 with a save.  Roecker had a 3.91 ERA over the weekend with nine strikeouts.
• Senior Nicole Warren has reached base in 11 straight games, while Pattison has reached in 10 straight and Lia Mancuso has gotten on base in seven straight.
• Pattison currently has a four-game hitting streak, while Mancuso has hit in three straight
DJ Sanchez is in her first year leading the Omaha softball program.
• The Mavericks open the year with 29 straight road games.
• UNO returns eight letter winners, including four position starters: Lia Mancuso, Kelly Pattison, Nicole Warren and senior Lizzie Noble.  Two starting pitchers also return with senior right-hander Abbie Clanton and sophomore right-hander Laura Roecker.
• Three All-Summit selections highlight the Mavericks’ returning corps: Mancuso, Roecker and Warren.
• Omaha was picked second in the Summit League preseason Coaches’ Poll.
 
Scouting the Montana Grizzlies
Montana enters the weekend with a record of 5-9 (Big Sky) after falling 9-3 to Hawaii Sunday afternoon.  The Grizzlies went 1-4 at the Hawaii Invitational last weekend, dropping two games to Oregon (L, 1-0/L, 6-0), one to Hawaii and splitting a pair of games with UNLV (W, 6-5/L, 5-4).

Bethany Olea leads Montana at the plate with a .405 average with a home runs, six doubles and eight RBI.  She has also scored nine times.  Delene Colburn has a team-best four homer runs, while Sydney Stites leads the team with 14 RBI.  The Grizzlies have used five pitchers so far this season.  Michaela Hood has a 1-1 record with a save.  Hood owns a  team-low 2.01 ERA with 24 strikeouts.

Head coach Jamie Pinkerton is in his third season at Montana with a 50-72 record and owns a 319-356 career mark over 12 years.  The all-time series between Omaha is tied, 1-1, with the Mavericks beating the Grizzlies 7-4 to open the 2017 campaign in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
 
Scouting the Utah State Aggies
Utah State enters the weekend with a record of 8-3 (0-0 Mountain West) after a 4-1 victory over UTEP Sunday afternoon.  The Aggies went 3-0 at the Amy S. Harrison Classic in Riverside, Classic, defeating Siena (5-1), UC Riverside (5-1) and UTEP.

Sarina Jaramillo and Amada Sheets lead the team with a .353 batting average.  Sydney Hard has a team-best four home runs and 10 RBI.  Mia Maher is a perfect 9-of-9 in stolen base attempts this season.  In the circle, April Brown leads the way with a 4-0 record with one save in six appearances.  Brown has a 1.19 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 13 walks.

Head coach Steve Johnson is in his fourth year at Utah State with a 71-101 mark and is 224-264 in 10 seasons.  Friday’s meeting will be the second-ever matchup between Omaha and Utah State.  The Aggies won the first meeting 8-2 in Fort Collins, Colo. in 2014.
 
Scouting the Southern Utah Thunderbirds
Southern Utah enters the weekend with a record on 1-7 (0-0 Big Sky) after a 6-1 loss to Nevada last Sunday.  The Thunderbirds went 0-4 at the UNLV-DeMarini Desert Classic last weekend, falling to San Jose State (11-2 (5 innings)), Utah State (3-1), Boise State (9-1 (5 innings)) and Nevada.

Sarah Murphy leads the team with a .385 average and is 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts.  Kendall Kapitzke has the lone homer for the Thunderbirds, while Javlyn Weaver leads the team with three RBI.  Southern Utah has used five pitchers this season, led by Kirsten Hostetler’s 1-2 record and 4.29 ERA in four appearances.

Head coach Tom Gray is in his third season at the helm of the Thunderbird program with a 34-76 record and is 250-384 in his 10-year career.
 
Scouting the Utah Utes
Utah enters the weekend ranked No. 16/17 with an 11-2 (0-0 PAC 12) record after a 1-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.  The Utes finished 3-2 at the Mary Nutter Classic last weekend, defeating No. 13 Tennessee (3-0), Houston (8-0 (6 innings)) and No. 7 LSU (3-0) before falling to San Diego State (3-2) and Cal State Fullerton.

Alyssa Barrera and Hannah Flippen lead the Utes with a .486 batting average.  Flipped leads the team with four stolen bases and a .757 slugging percentage, and is tied for the team lead with four doubles and two home runs.  Heather Bowen leads the team with 16 RBI.  Both Utah pitchers have ERA’s under 1.00 with Katie Donovan owning a 7-2 record and a 0.67 ERA.

Head coach Amy Hogue is in her 10th season at Utah with a career record of 270-232-1.  Saturday is the second all-time meeting between Omaha and Utah with the Utes winning the only meeting 4-0 in 1982.
 
Scouting the UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend with a record of 4-10 (0-0 Big West) after an 8-0 loss to Arizona State last Sunday.  The Gauchos went 1-5 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last weekend, falling to Oklahoma State (4-3), Tennessee (8-3), Purdue (6-4), Washington (10-2) and Arizona State (8-0 (5 innings)).

Kristen Clark leads the team with a .383 record and three stolen bases.  Sierra Altmeyer is hitting .333 with a team-high three home runs and nine RBI.  The Gauchos have used four pitchers this season with Veronika Gulvin having a team-best 3-4 record and 4.56 ERA with 22 strikeouts.

Head coach Brie Galiciano is in her 10th year leading UC Santa Barbara with a career mark of 244-257.  Sunday is the third meeting between Omaha and UC Santa Barbara with the series tied 1-1.  The Gauchos won the last meeting on Feb. 19 in eight innings, 4-3.
 
Briefly: Red Desert Classic
Omaha will play five games at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.  The Mavericks will face two teams that they have already seen this season in Montana and UC Santa Barbara.  They will also square off against three teams from Utah: Southern Utah, Utah and Utah State.

Here’s a quick look at Omaha’s opponents:

  • Montana – 5-9 (0-0 Big Sky), lost five of its last six games
  • Utah State – 8-3 (0-0 Mountain West), won three straight games
  • Southern Utah – 1-7 (0-0 Big Sky), lost six straight games
  • Utah – 11-2 (0-0 PAC 12), lost two straight games
  • UC Santa Barbara – 4-10 (0-0 Big West), lost five of its last six games

 
A Look Back at Last Weekend
Omaha finished with a 1-4 mark at the Interstate 75 Challenge last weekend in Georgia.  The Mavericks dropped both games to Georgia Tech on Friday, 5-1 and 2-1 (8 innings).  UNO split a twin bill with Georgia State on Saturday, winning the opener 3-1 and falling in game two, 12-4 (6 innings).  They wrapped up the five-game set with a 9-0 loss in five innings to Kennesaw State on Sunday.

Pattison Named Player of the Week
Kelly Pattison was tabbed Summit League Player of the Week for her performances during the week of Feb. 13-19, the league office announced Monday. It marks the first weekly award of her career.

Pattison drove in four runs with two homers in three games while scoring four times. The Lockport, Ill., native had a .600 (6-for-10) average over the weekend with a .636 on-base percentage and 1.300 slugging percentage. She currently ranks second in the league in batting average (.400).

On the Road Again
This season UNO will play its first 29 games of the season on the road and play games in all four continental time zones.  Omaha opened its season with a five-game set in Iowa before heading west to California.  The Mavericks will travel east the next weekend to play five games in Georgia followed by five games in Utah.  The next two weeks take UNO to Oklahoma and Kansas, before finally hosting New Mexico State for its home opener on March 21.
 
Reaching the Summit
After the third weekend of play, Pattison is tied for second in the Summit League in home runs with three, while Lia Mancuso is third in stolen bases with three.

As a team, UNO leads the conference in homeruns (10) and is second in stolen bases and walks.  The Mavericks are also in the top five in 13 other offensive categories.
 
Leader of the Mavs
Kelly Pattison is having a breakout season for Omaha in 2017.  The junior is leading the team with a .359 average, three home runs, eight RBI and a .615 slugging percentage.  Last week, Pattison earned her first career conference player of the week award.  She has started all 13 games this season and is 14-of-39 at the plate.  Defensively, Pattison has a .957 fielding percentage with 20 putouts.
 
Marvelous Mancuso
Lia Mancuso is second on the team with a .351 average and is third in the conference with three stolen cases.  The Omaha native has four doubles, a homer and four RBI so far this season.  She also has a .541 slugging percentage through 13 games.
 
First “W”
Head coach DJ Sanchez picked up her first win at UNO last Friday with a 7-4 victory over Montana in the opening game of the Ramada-UNI Dome Classic.
 
Impressive Start
Emily Klosterman showed little signs of being nervous at the plate during her first two weekends with the Mavericks. She is currently batting .250 with two doubles, two homeruns and four RBI.  Klosterman owns a .450 slugging percentage and a .318 on-base percentage.
 
The Wait is Over
After taking a redshirt season last year, Vicky Kinney made her collegiate debut at the Ramada-UNI Dome Invitational, going 4-for-14 with two home runs and five RBI.  For the season, she is hitting .241 with two homers, seven RBI and a .450 slugging percentage.
 
Youth Movement
So far this season, the Mavericks started four freshmen in the infield.  Klosterman, Hailey Bartz and Emma Dargy played in every game, while Kaitlynn Hunt has made three starts behind the plate.  Redshirt freshmen Anna Albaugh and Vicky Kinney each made their first college appearances as well.  Kinney appeared in every game as the designated player, while Albaugh made two appearances in the circle.
 
Been Caught Stealing
Omaha’s catchers have allowed only four stolen bases in 12 attempts this season.  Megan May has thrown out seven would-be base stealers, while Kaitlynn Hunt has cut down one runner.
 
Warren Watch
Nicole Warren’s power surge has continued this season.  She has hit two long balls this year and ranks third in the Summit League.  Warren has hit 32 career homers and ranks fifth all-time and trails Allie Mathewson (2013-15) by three home runs.
 
At the Farm
Omaha finished with 2-1 mark in its three games at the Nike Invitational in Stanford, Calif.  UNO defeated Stanford, 3-2, and Pacific, 5-3.  The Mavericks dropped Sunday’s finale 4-3 in extra innings to UC Santa Barbara.
 
Under the Dome
Omaha opened the 2017 campaign at the Ramada-UNI Dome Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa, finishing the weekend with a 1-4 record.  The Mavericks started off with a 7-4 win over Montana.  UNO dropped games to Drake, Northern Iowa, Toledo and Wisconsin.
 
Three Returning All-League Picks Highlight the 2017 Roster
Three returning All-Summit picks highlight the 2017 roster: senior outfielder Lia Mancuso, sophomore pitcher Laura Roecker and senior infielder Nicole Warren.  Mancuso earned First Team All-League honors, while Roecker and Warren were Second Team honorees.

Warren set the Summit League single-season record with 20 home runs and led the team and league in homers, RBIs, runs scored (60), total bases (144), and assists (148) last season.

Mancuso had the second highest batting average (.333) on the team last year.  The Omaha native finished 2016 with 11 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 22 RBI.

Roecker appeared in 42 games with a 17-14 record with a 4.78 ERA and 112 strikeouts as a freshman.  She led the team in complete games (19) and innings pitched (184.2).
 
Home Sweet Home
The 2017 season will see the Mavericks play 12 home contests, including nine league matchups.  Since moving to Division I in 2011-12, UNO has enjoyed a combined record of 42-17 at home.
 
What Makes Up the Mavericks
• UNO returns much of its offensive production from last season, as this year’s returners accounted for 45.3 percent of the Mavericks’ hits, 49 percent of their runs scored, 50.6 percent of their homers, 48.8 percent of their RBI and 80.6 percent of their stolen bases in 2016.
• Omaha’s returning pitchers were credited with 87.6 percent of the team’s innings pitched last year, 93.3 percent of its victories, and 91.8 percent of its strikeouts.
• The Mavericks return two of their top five hitters from a year ago: Lia Mancuso (.333) and Nicole Warren (.309).
• Warren had 204 at-bats in her junior season, the most of any hitter on the team.
• Warren’s 20 home runs last season set a Summit League single-season record and was one short of tying the team record of 21 set in 2006 by Leslie Svoboda.
• UNO’s 2017 roster includes four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores, two redshirt freshman and four freshmen.
•The Mavericks hail from four different states. Eleven are from Nebraska, two are from Iowa, and one apiece are out of Illinois and Missouri.
 
Sanchez in Charge
Head coach DJ Sanchez enters her first season at the helm of the Omaha softball program in 2017.  Sanchez spent four seasons leading St. Gregory’s University (Okla.), before coming to Omaha last summer.

In her four seasons at SGU, she compiled a 172-47 overall record, an 81-25 mark in the Sooner Athletic Conference and advanced to the NAIA post-season four times.  The Cavaliers won their conference championship last season and twice earned a spot in the NAIA World Series.

Joining Sanchez is first-year assistant coach Ryan Wondrasek.  Wondrasek previously worked with Coach Sanchez at St. Gregory’s University, where he helped the Cavaliers become one of the top offensive and defensive teams in the country.
 
Fresh Faces
Seven newcomers – freshmen, redshirts or transfers – are on the Omaha roster in 2017.  Four true freshmen are in the mix: Hailey Bartz (Lincoln, Neb.), Emma Dargy (LaVista, Neb.) Kaitlynn Hunt (Ashland, Neb.), and Emily Klosterman (Omaha, Neb.).  Anna Albaugh (Johnston, Iowa) and Vicky Kinney (Bennington, Neb.) redshirted in 2016, with Albaugh transferring from Lake Land College.
 
Home is Where the Heart Is
Eight of the 15 players on UNO’s 2017 roster hail from the Omaha area and three more come from the Lincoln area.  From the Omaha metro area, two players come from Papillion-LaVista, while one each is from Bennington, Central, Elkhorn, Millard South, Millard West, and Papillion-LaVista South.  Additionally, the Mavericks have one player from Mead, Lincoln Southeast and Lincoln Southwest.
   
Summit League Preseason Poll Released
Omaha was picked second in the 2017 Summit League Preseason Coaches’ Poll; the conference office announced Feb. 2.  Defending league champion North Dakota State was selected as the league’s favorite after collecting six first-place votes and 36 total points.  Omaha claimed the final first-place tally and placed second with 27 points.  Western Illinois came in third with 25 votes, while South Dakota (23) was fourth.  South Dakota State (19), IUPUI (11) and Fort Wayne (five) rounded out the poll.   
 
2017 Slate Takes Mavericks Coast to Coast
Omaha’s 2017 schedule includes 51 games, and the team will play in nine states against schools from 17 other Division I conference.  Six opponents – LSU, Nebraska, North Dakota State, Oklahoma, Tulsa, and Utah – played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.  LSU and Oklahoma advanced to the Women’s College World Series with the Sooners claiming the national title.
 
Getting it Done in the Classroom
The Omaha softball team registered the second-highest grade point average among NCAA Division I programs for the 2015-16 academic year, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced.  The Mavericks, who had the 11th-highest team GPA in 2014-15, registered a 3.643 team GPA last year. They trailed only Grand Canyon (3.670) in Division I.

Among the Summit League schools, Western Illinois (19th), North Dakota State (59th) and South Dakota State (72nd) all made the list.

Earning NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors were Abbie Clanton, Campbell Ditto, Sydney Hames, Lia Mancuso, Lizzie Noble, Kelly Pattison, Kourtney Pock, Laura Roecker, Bailey Schulenberg, Kylie Schwarting, Tara Trede and Nicole Warren.
 
Mavericks Sign Six
Head coach D.J. Sanchez announced Lexi Burchfield (Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound), Aubrey Hacke (Highland, Ill./Highland), Halley Jones (Blaine, Minn./Spring Lake Park), Madison Otte (Lincoln, Neb./Southeast), Kayla Peak (Olathe, Kan./Olathe North) and Alexa Sedlak (Gretna, Neb./Gretna) have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Omaha softball program in 2017-18.
 
Next Up
Omaha returns to the road next weekend, traveling to Norman, Okla. for the OU Tournament March 10-12.  The Mavericks will play two games against defending national champion Oklahoma and two against Illinois-Chicago.  Links to live stats, audio and video will be posted on OMavs.com when available.

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