The Omaha softball team returns to action this weekend at the Nike Stanford Invitational.
Courtesy: Michael Dunlop

Omaha Heads West to Stanford Nike Invitational

Omaha Athletics | February 16, 2017

Leading Off
The Omaha softball team heads west this weekend for five games at the Nike Invitational, Feb. 17-19, in Stanford, Calif.  Links to live stats are available on OMavs.com.

The Mavericks open with UC Santa Barbara and Stanford on Friday, Feb. 17.  Another matchup with the same two teams is set for Saturday, Feb. 18, and Omaha finishes with one game on Sunday, Feb. 19 against Pacific.

Quick Hits
• Freshman Emily Klosterman got off to a hot start last weekend, batting .429 with two homeruns and four RBI.
• Redshirt freshman Vicky Kinney hit two homeruns and drove in three runs in Omaha’s 5-4 loss to Drake last Saturday.
• Seniors Lia Mancuso and Nicole Warren each have three-game hitting streaks heading into the weekend.
• Klosterman has reached base in five straight games.
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: senior outfielder Lia Mancuso, senior outfielder Lizzie Noble, junior outfielder Kelly Pattison and senior infielder Nicole Warren.  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 Stanford Cardinal
Stanford enters the weekend with a record of 5-2 (0-0 PAC 12) after opening the year at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.  The Cardinal topped UC Davis in a single game Wednesday, 6-3.  Stanford defeated UTEP (10-1), Creighton (7-2), Western Michigan (3-2) and Purdue (16-9) before falling to San Diego (2-0) and Fresno State (24-8) in Tempe, Ariz.

Teaghan Cowles leads the team with a .520 batting average with 13 hits and eight RBI through seven games.  Whitney Burks has a team-best two homeruns and 11 RBI.  Carolyn Lee leads the team with a 3-1 record, and a team-low 1.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

Head coach Rachel Hanson is in her third season at Stanford with a 35-74 record and owns a 202-247 career mark over 12 seasons.  Friday will be the first-ever meeting between Omaha and Stanford.

Scouting the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara enters the weekend with a record of 1-4 (0-0 Big West) after opening the year at the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational.  The Gauchos topped Wright State (12-10) and dropped games to Wichita State (6-1 and 7-3), Houston (14-2 – 5 innings) and Boston College (6-2).

Kristen Clark leads the team with a .571 batting average and eight hits.  Three players have gone deep this season, while Jacqueline Hinojosa and Kayla Krantz lead the team with three RBI each.
Veronika Gulvin is 0-1 in four appearances this season with a 3.87 ERA and eight strikeouts.  Felisha Noriega has a 0-2 mark in five appearances with a 13.03 ERA and three strikeouts.

Head coach Brie Galicinao is in her 9th season with UC Santa Barbara with a 241-251 record.  Friday will be the second all-time meeting between Omaha and UCSB.  The Mavericks have a 1-0 series advantage after defeating the Gauchos last year, 17-16, in nine innings.

Scouting the Pacific Tigers
Pacific enters the weekend with a record of 3-2 (0-0 WCC) after opening the year at the Easton Invitational in Fullerton, Calif.  The Tigers defeated North Dakota State (2-1) and Cal State Fullerton (6-0 and 3-0), and lost 5-3 to Utah State and 9-0 in 5 innings to Ole Miss.

Haylee Moran-Rowen leads the team with a .467 batting average with a pair of doubles in five games.  Hailey Reed is hitting .417 through four games, while Cassidy Gustafson is hitting .357 with two homeruns and four RBI.  Gustafson, Reed and Marissa Young have one win apiece this season.  Young has a team-low 0.54 ERA with a complete game and eight strikeouts.  Gustafson has a 0.64 ERA and 10 strikeouts in two appearances.

Head coach Brian Kolze is in his 25th year at Pacific with a career record of 704-627-1.  Sunday will be the first meeting between Omaha and Pacific.

Briefly: Stanford Nike Invitational
Beginning on Friday, Omaha will play five games at the Stanford Nike Invitational in Stanford, Calif.  The Mavericks have never faced two of their tournament opponents: Pacific and Stanford.

Through Feb. 15, UNO’s opponents are as follows:
    Pacific – 3-2 (0-0 WCC), on a three-game win streak
    Stanford – 4-2 (0-0 Big 12), on a two-game losing streak, plays at UC Davis on Wednesday, Feb. 15
    UC Santa Barbara – 1-4 (0-0 Big West), on a one-game losing streak

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.

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 last Friday over Montana.  UNO dropped games to Drake, Northern Iowa, Toledo and Wisconsin.

Impressive Start
Emily Klosterman showed little signs of being nervous at the plate in her first weekend of collegiate softball.  The freshman hit .429 (6-for-14) with a double and two homeruns with four RBI.  Klosterman reached base in all five games and had a .929 slugging percentage.

The Wait is Over
After taking a redshirt season last year, Vicky Kinney made her collegiate debut last weekend, going 4-for-14 with two home runs and five RBI.

Youth Movement
Last weekend, the Mavericks started three freshmen in the infield.  Klosterman, Hailey Bartz and Emma Dargy played in every game.  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 one appearance in the circle.

Been Caught Stealing
Catcher Megan May allowed only one stolen base in six attempts last weekend.  The junior catcher threw out five would-be baserunners, including two against Drake and Toledo.

Runner, Runner
Senior outfielder Lia Mancuso swiped three bases against Toledo last weekend.  Mancuso leads the team and the Summit League in stolen bases so far this season.  For her career, she has 19 stolen bases on 25 attempts.

Warren Watch
Senior Nicole Warren picked up where she left off last season by hitting a two-run homerun in the third inning against Montana.  The blast was the first of the year by Warren and the 31st of her career.  She now ranks fifth all-time and is four homers behind Allie Mathewson’s 35 homeruns from 2013-15.

Reaching the Summit
After the first weekend of play, Emily Klosterman ranks fourth in the Summit League with a .429 batting average.  Vicky Kinney is third in conference play with five RBI and.  Kinney and Klosterman are tied for second with two homeruns.  Lia Mancuso leads the league with three stolen bases.  Pitcher Abbie Clanton has the conference lead with one save.

As a team, UNO leads the conference in extra base hits, players hit by pitchers, homeruns, slugging percentage and triples.

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 action next weekend, heading to Georgia to play five games.  The Mavericks open with two games against Georgia Tech on Friday, Feb. 24.  UNO plays two more games on Saturday, Feb. 25 against Georgia State, before wrapping up the trip with a single game against Kennesaw State on Sunday, Feb. 26.  When available, live stats and audio will be linked on OMavs.com.

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