MORAGA, Calif. -- With its first win now in the rear-view mirror, the Saint Mary's softball team will head to the South Bay this weekend to take part in the Bronco Classic, hosted by Santa Clara and San Jose State.
Action starts for the Gaels on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. when they head to San Jose State to take on the Spartans. Later that day, SMC will head across town to take on Fresno State at 1:30 p.m. at Santa Clara.
Play begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday for Saint Mary's when it takes on Cal State Northridge at Santa Clara. The tournament concludes for the Gaels on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. when they face host Santa Clara.
Saint Mary's (1-6) earned a split last Saturday against Sacramento State to get in the win column for the first time in 2013.
A large part of the victory came courtesy of the right arm of freshman Lujane Mussadi. Making her first home start as a Gael, the native of Los Gatos, Calif. tossed a three-hit shutout. The performance earned her Pacific Coast Softball Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
Leading the way offensively for Saint Mary's was sophomore Sarah Lira, who belted a home run in each game of the doubleheader. She also pitched in the first game.
Freshman catcher Andrea Hazel also contributed at the plate, crushing a home run well over the left field fence in the first game against the Hornets.
While the Gaels want to build on the momentum of last Saturday's victory, the competition will be even tougher this weekend.
San Jose State enters the tournament with a 5-7 record, having played the first two weeks of the season away from home. Head coach Peter Turner's squad was picked to finish second in the Western Athletic Conference, with pitcher Amanda Pridmore and outfielder Michelle Cox each being named to the all-WAC preseason team.
Fresno State began the week at 6-6 before hosting Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday. The Gaels will see a familiar face when the Bulldogs are across the field, with SMC legend Trisha Ford (Dean) in her first year as Fresno State's head coach. The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference this season, and have gone 6-1 at home to begin the 2013 campaign.
Cal State Northridge enters the Bronco Classic at 4-8 overall, but playing well lately after going 3-2 at the Stanford Nike Invitational. Senior Mikayla Thielges has been the offensive star so far for the Matadors, entering the tournament with a .370 batting average and .741 slugging percentage. Mia Pagano and Shelly Tait have split the work in the circle for head coach Tairia Flowers.
Santa Clara is 0-6 to begin the weekend, having dropped four games at the Stanford Nike Invitational. Outfielder Stephanie Fisher has been the Broncos' offensive leader so far, hitting .438 through the first six games. Freshman Ciara Gonzales has seen the most work in the circle, but five pitchers have gotten innings this season for Santa Clara.
Saint Mary's returns to Cottrell Field next Saturday when UC Davis visits for a doubleheader. Game one is scheduled to start at noon.