No. 24 Oregon State Beavers
(20-7-1, 0-3 Pac-12)
vs. California Golden Bears
(11-11, 0-1 Pac-12)
OSU Softball Complex
Thursday | 3:05 p.m. PT
Friday | 3:05 p.m. PT
Saturday | 12:05 p.m. PT
Pac-12 Networks Coverage
Thursday: National, Oregon and Bay Area
Friday: Oregon and Bay Area
Saturday: Oregon and Bay Area
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 24th-ranked Oregon State softball team plays its first games of 2016 in the friendly confines of the OSU Softball Complex this weekend, as the Beavers welcome the California Golden Bears to The Best College Town in the Pac-12 for a three-game conference series.
Oregon State (20-7-1) and Cal (11-11) open the three-game set with 3:05 p.m. PT matchups on each of Thursday and Friday. The series wraps up on Saturday, with first pitch for the series finale scheduled for 12:35 p.m. PT.
The entirety of this weekend's series against Cal will be aired live by various Pac-12 Networks outlets, including each of the National, Oregon and Bay Area outlets on Thursday. Each game on Friday and Saturday will be televised on Pac-12 Oregon and Bay Area. Ann Schatz will handle the play-by-play duties, while Tammy Blackburn will serve as the analyst.
Oregon State looks to bounce back in conference play, as the Beavers dropped its opening conference series on the road at Utah. The Bears are also looking for their first conference win, sitting at 0-1 in the Pac-12 as games were either cancelled or called due to inclement weather at UCLA.
The Beavers also look to bounce back from last year's series, as the Bears took two of three games in Berkeley, Calif. Cal owns a 79-36 edge in the all-time series against Oregon State. The Beavers will also be looking to improve upon a 3-9 mark in home games last season, while the Bears will be playing their first true road games of 2016 after going 6-11 away from home last season.
This season's home opener will be featured as Senior Citizen Day. On Saturday, the Oregon State softball team will be available to sign autographs in the outfield, weather permitting.
In addition to live coverage on the Pac-12 Networks, live stats will also be made available for this weekend's series. Links for the live streams and live stats will be posted as they are available, and can be accessed through the 2016 softball schedule page on OSUBeavers.com.
- In each of the past three seasons under head coach Laura Berg, Oregon State has set a new record for team batting average, matching the 2006 mark with a .280 team batting average in 2013 before breaking the record in consecutive seasons, hitting .287 as a team in 2014 and .298 in 2015. As a team this season, Oregon State has hit .345, the 13th-highest team batting average in the nation.
- Freshman right-hander Meehra Nelson has opened her career at Oregon State with authority, as she has gone 11-3 with three saves to open her collegiate career and currently has the nation's No. 20 wins total. She ranks 12th nationally in strikeouts (116), and is either tied for the lead or leads the Pac-12 in several significant statistical categories, including strikeouts, wins, saves and innings pitched (97.1).
- Redshirt junior Natalie Hampton has the nation's No. 9 and Pac-12's No. 2 RBI (39) total and is batting .395 with eight home runs and six doubles. Hampton hit .550 (11-for-20) with three home runs and 15 RBI at the DeMarini Desert Classic, and leads the team in home runs, RBI and total bases (44).
- Sophomore shortstop McKenna Arriola leads the team in batting average (.404), hits (38), stolen bases (10) and on-base percentage (.486) from the leadoff spot. Sophomore outfielder Lovie Lopez paces the club in doubles (9, tied for Pac-12 lead), as well as in HBP (5) and runs scored (23). Freshman outfielder Jessica Garcia is tied with Hampton for the team lead in walks (13) and has nine stolen bases this season.
No. 26 Kayleen Shafer
Hometown: Mission Viejo, Calif.
Mission Viejo HS
- Plans to major in biohealth sciences
- The daughter of Kathleen and John Shafer
- Was teammates with current OSU teammate Alysha Everett at Mission Viejo High School
- Hobbies outside of softball include hiking, camping and snowboarding
- Chose Oregon State because of the coaching staff, its Pac-12 affiliation and its proximity to home
- Had the walk-off base hit in extra innings to clinch the CIF and national championships for Mission Viejo in 2014
- Favorite athlete is Jessica Mendoza
Beavers in the Polls
- Oregon State is ranked in the national polls for the fourth straight week, including one week this season with rankings in both major polls.
- OSU checks into the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll at No. 24 this week, down one spot from No. 23 last week.
- The Beavers entered the USA Today/NFCA Division I Poll with a No. 25 ranking last week, and are receiving the top number of votes amongst teams not ranked this week.
- The Beavers entered the national rankings a pair of weeks ago following its 14-2 start to the season, entering the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll tied at No. 22. It marked the first time they were ranked since April 2, 2013, when they were ranked at No. 24 in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
- Oregon State is also ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll for the first time since May 13, 2012, where the Beavers were ranked at No. 24.
Caution: The Bats Are Hot
- According to the NCAA, Oregon State is one of the top offensive teams in the nation in terms of team statistical rankings through 28 games.
- As a team, Oregon State is ranked within the top-25 nationally in batting average (13th - .345), doubles per game (fifth – 1.85, 52 total), slugging percentage (20th - .522), on-base percentage (16th - .426) and runs scored per game (23rd - 6.63, 184 total). Notably, the Beavers are also ranked 53rd in stolen bases per game (1.52, 41-of-48 total).
- Individually, redshirt junior first baseman/designated player Natalie Hampton ranks ninth in the nation in RBI (39) and RBI per game (1.41).
- Freshman right-hander Meehra Nelson is off to a stellar start to her freshman career, currently sitting at 11-3 with a trio of saves, a 2.66 ERA and 116 strikeouts.
- Through 22 appearances and 15 starts this season, Nelson is ranked No 20 in the nation in wins and ranks 12th in the country in strikeouts. The Simi Valley, Calif. native leads the Pac-12 in each of those categories, as well as in saves and innings pitched (97.1).
- Following the hot start to her collegiate career, Nelson was named Pac-12 Softball Freshman of the Week on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday, March 1. Nelson is the one of only hree Pac-12 players through six weeks (Taylor McQuillin and Danielle O'Toole of Arizona) to receive multiple weekly honors.
- Following the Beavers' win over Kentucky in her first collegiate start, Nelson won helped her case for the first Pac-12 FOW award of the season with wins in starts against each of CSUN and New Mexico in respective complete-game outings. The freshman held CSUN to a pair of runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, and capped the weekend by limiting New Mexico to a single run on two hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts.
Return of a Record-Setting Offense
- The Beavers return six lineup regulars from a 2015 squad that lit up multiple lists in Oregon State's all-time school record books. As a team last season, Oregon State set the school record for batting average, had the second-most runs scored and RBI in program history, and the fourth-most doubles and walks.
- Oregon State returns many of the players chiefly responsible for those team, as Mikela Manewa placed second on the team in batting average (.338), RBI (37) and walks (26) last year, while McKenna Arriola finished second in runs scored (39) and Sammi Noland led the team in RBI (40) and placed second in doubles (9).
- Under head coach Laura Berg, Oregon State has made many other entries in the all-time record books in previous seasons, including in batting average twice (.287 in 2014 - 2nd all-time; 280 in 2013 – 3rd all-time), runs scored (227 in 2013 – 5th all-time), RBI (245 in 2013 – 5th all-time), walks (179 in 2013 – 5th all-time), home runs (52 in 2013 – 4th all-time) and triples (14 in 2014 – 5th all-time).
2015 Team in All-Time Program Records
1st – Batting Average (.298; broke record of .287 from 2014)
2nd – Runs Scored (300; record is 301 in 2012)
2nd – Runs Batted In (265; record is 269 in 2012)
4th – Doubles (74; record is 88 in 2003)
4th – Walks (182; record is 204 in 1999)
What the Beavers Brought Back
- In each of the past three seasons under head coach Laura Berg, Oregon State has set a new record for team batting average, matching the 2006 mark with a .280 team batting average in 2013 before breaking the record in consecutive seasons, hitting .287 as a team in 2014 and .298 in 2015.
- The Beavers return six lineup regulars from the 2015 team, including senior infielder Mikela Manewa, who finished the season hitting .338, as well as redshirt junior infielder Natalie Hampton, who owns OSU's single-season RBI record (50 in 2013), and senior catcher Sammi Noland, who led the Beavers in RBI in 2015 (40) and is OSU's top returning leader in home runs (8).
- In the circle, ace right-hander Bev Miller returns for her senior season after posting a 15-13 record in 2015 with a 3.64 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 194.1 innings pitched.
- Forming a deep staff along with Miller are junior south paw Taylor Cotton, who tossed 49.1 innings last season, as well as newcomer Meehra Nelson, who joined the Beavers after finishing high school with a 0.96 ERA.
- Following this weekend's series against Cal, the Oregon State softball team will take on another Bay Area opponent, as the Beavers hit the road next weekend to face the Stanford Cardinal.
- The series opens on Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. PT, while first pitch is set for 6 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 2. The series wraps up on Sunday, April 3 with a scheduled start time of noon PT.
OREGON STATE ATHLETICS' EVERYDAY CHAMPIONS CULTURE
- Through the power of sport, we help people discover and pursue their passions, talents and purpose in order to live a life of balance and positive contribution.
For more information on the Oregon State softball team, follow the club's official Twitter account at Twitter.com/OregonStateSB, by Facebook at Facebook.com/OregonStateSB or on Instagram at Instagram.com/OregonStateSB.