LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV Softball (23-26, 6-15) will welcome San Jose State to Eller Media Stadium for its final regular season series of 2017 this weekend, May 11-13. The Rebels have dropped their last seven games and have suffered two sweeps in a row at the hands of conference foes, so they will try to end the season on a high note against the Spartans on senior weekend. With SJSU needing two wins to secure the conference championship, UNLV can play spoiler if they can take the series from the visitors.
Last weekend, the Rebels closed out their 2017 road slate at San Diego State and narrowly lost two of three games against the Aztecs after a 5-3 defeat in the opener and a 8-6 loss in the finale. Rain in Sunday's forecast resulted in a doubleheader Saturday, with UNLV losing the first 9-1 in five innings. In the 8-6 loss the Rebels did manage their first multi-home run game of the year as Janine Petmecky, Alyssa Navarro and Justine Federe all homered. Navarro in particular had a strong weekend, going 5-for-9 with two home runs, five RBI and three runs scored.
The Rebels have a tough task in front of them as San Jose State enters the weekend on an eight-game winning streak, having just taken the lead atop the Mountain West standings after a sweep at home over then-first place Utah State. A series win would also be a milestone for head coach Lisa Dodd, who is 3-7 against the Spartans since she became the head coach and is the only Mountain West team she hasn't won a series against in her career. The series will be played Thursday-Saturday, May 11-13, with Thursday and Friday's games getting underway at 6 p.m. and Saturday's senior day set for 11 a.m.
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE San Jose State (35-15, 15-6) is coming off a huge weekend after it's second consecutive conference series sweep. Last weekend it was over first place Utah State at home, which allowed them to jump to the top of the standings for the first time this season. The Spartans have been on a tear as of late as they enter the final weekend of the regular season on an eight-game winning streak - the longest of any team in the MW this year - and needing just two wins in Las Vegas to secure the conference championship and the Mountain West's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Spartans have a two-game lead with three games to play, getting into that position thanks to winning 12 of their last 13 dating back to April 9. The Spartans rank in the top half of the conference in offense and are even better in the circle, ranking in the top two of the MW in almost every major statistical category, including first in ERA (2.94), runs allowed (168) and strikeouts (259) and second in opposing batting average (.252) and earned runs allowed (140). SJSU has five players hitting over .350 led by Cassidy Clark, who is hitting at a .383 clip with 49 hits, 22 runs and 24 RBI, while six different players have registered 20 RBI or more. In the circle, the Spartans have two starters with sub-three ERAs - Collette Rigs at 2.07 and Katelyn Linford at 2.43 - which rank first and fourth in the conference, respectively. The two have combined for 32 wins against just 10 losses and 247 strikeouts and 85 walks.
NEWS & NOTES
Season Streaks: The Rebels have two separate four-game win streaks this season. Prior to their conference-opening series at Utah State March 17-19, the Rebels hadn't lost more than two in a row during their non-conference schedule. Up until the series at home against Fresno State April 28-30, they had not lost more than three in a row all season long, but after a series finale loss at Colorado State and two sweeps at the hands of Fresno State and San Diego State, the Rebels' losing streak stands at seven.
Individual Streaks: Senior transfer Brianna Gatlin had a 17-game on-base streak to start the year while Janine Petmecky's 16-game on-base streak ended in Corvallis April 1 &2 - marking the two-longest such streaks of the season for the Rebels. Heading into the final weekend of the season, Petmecky has a nine-game hitting streak going - the longest of the season of any Rebel - while her current on-base streak is also at nine.
Multiple dinger game: For the first time this season, the Rebels registered a multi-home run game as Petmecky, Alyssa Navarro and Justine Federe each hit homers in the 8-6 loss in the series finale at SDSU on May 6.
Game Two Success: For most of the season, the second game of a series has been a good for the Rebels as they are 5-2 in game twos during Mountain West play. Until game two losses the past two weekends against San Jose State and SDSU, they had not lost in the middle of game of a series.
Sunday Scaries: Sundays haven't been kind to the Rebels in 2017 as it is the only day they currently have a losing record (2-9) in 2017 while they have yet to win a conference game in a weekend finale.
The end of a streak: Entering the series against Fresno State, the Rebels had yet to lose a game when they were leading after four innings (17-0), but two of the three losses to the Bulldogs came via late-inning defeats, ending that run.
A Weekend of Firsts: The Rebels picked up a couple of firsts against Colorado State, April 21-23. The 7-6 win on Friday, April 21 in Fort Collins was their first in a Mountain West series opener in 2017, while the 7-4 victory on Saturday, April 22 sealed their first conference series victory of the year.
Ettinger sets new career-highs: After setting a new career-high for wins with her 11th on the season in a 4-0 midweek game against Creighton on March 7, Ettinger picked up her 12th win on March 11 to reset her personal record with a 1-0 decision over New Mexico State at the Rebel Classic. Her 99 strikeouts and 16 complete games are also new career highs, breaking her old top mark of 54 and nine, respectively. Currently, she is seventh in the conference in wins, is fourth in strikeouts, fifth in batters struck out looking (29) and is 10th with a 3.21 ERA.
Petmecky a RBI machine: Petmecky has been clutch with runners in scoring position this year, leading the team with 28 RBI on the season, including two different three-RBI games and three other two RBI games. Dodd has not been afraid to send her in as a pinch hitter with runners in scoring position and more often than not, she delivers.
Fast Starts: The Rebels have scored at least one run in the first inning in 18 out of 49 games this season, with multi-run first innings against Louisville (4), Southern Utah (3), Northern Iowa (3), Creighton (2), Dixie State (2), both games against Portland State (6, 3), the series finale against Utah State (6), the game two win against Boise State (2) and the series opening win at CSU (4). The first inning is also their highest scoring inning overall, with 43 runs total in the opening frame. They are currently 14-4 when they do manage to score in the first inning. On the flip side, they are 9-13 when their opponent scores in the first inning. The team has also scored the most runs in the first and second innings combined this year (64), proving that fast starts are crucial for the Rebels. Scoring first has also been key for the Rebels as they are 15-4 when they strike first and are just 8-22 when they allow opponents to get on the board before they do.
One-run games: While Coach Dodd would likely prefer to win by larger margins, the Rebels have proved they can win the close ones as they are 8-4 in one-run games.
Comeback Magic: Over a seven-game stretch, the Rebels pulled off five come-from-behind wins, with the efforts including a walk-off home run by Janine Petmecky at home against Weber State on Feb. 17 and two late-inning home runs that proved to be the game winners -- one by Justine Federe on Feb. 24 at Hawaii and another by Alyssa Navarro against Montana in Honolulu on Feb. 25. They added three more comeback wins in April - an 8-4 victory over Boise State on April 8 at home, a 12-7 comeback win at Nevada, Reno on Friday, April 14 and a 7-4 victory over Colorado State on April 22.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, Dodd picked up her 100th career win in a 8-7 win over Northern Iowa at home. All of her career head coaching wins have come at UNLV, while she became the fourth coach in program history to reach the 100 win mark.
Janine Petmecky's walk-off home run against Weber State on Friday, Feb. 17 was the first for UNLV since former Rebel Garie Blando hit on in a 6-5 victory over Mountain West foe New Mexico on March 27, 2015.
Fourth Inning Says It All: So far, if the Scarlet & Gray can find themselves ahead or tied on the scoreboard after four innings, there's a good chance they will go on to win the game. Currently, they are 21-5 when they accomplish that feat. On the other hand, they are just 2-21 when trailing after four innings.
Senior transfer Brianna Gatlin has made a significant impact in her first and only season as a Rebel. She has reached based safely in 39 of 49 games - a team-high this season. She recorded a seven-game hitting streak during the first 14 games of the season and safely reached base in the first 17-straight games -- the longest on-base streak of any Rebel this season. She leads the team in runs scored (29) and doubles (12) and is second on the team in batting average (.329), hits (48), triples (2), RBI (25) and home runs (4).
In addition to Gatlin, two other transfers, sophomore Kiley Harrison and junior Alyssa Navarro, have been strong additions. Harrison has made 41 starts, the majority at catcher, while Navarro has started 48 of 49 games as the regular first baseman. The two have combined for 58 hits, 26 runs scored and 40 RBI. Navarro has been particularly good over the last month with three home runs, 13 RBI, 12 hits and six runs scored. Her seven home runs this year leads the team while she has the top RBI game of any Rebel after recording five RBI in a 7-6 win at Colorado State on April 21. Navarro's 25 RBI are also tied for second on the team.
The freshmen also continue to make their mark this year. Mara Kemmer and more recently Reina Bondi have played well in their first collegiate seasons. Kemmer, who is currently out with an injury, has spent time in both right field, at designated player and in the circle as a dual threat player for the Rebels. In her first year, Kemmer is third on the team with a .327 batting average to go along with 33 hits, 12 RBI and 17 runs scored.. She's also made 15 appearances in the circle with five starts. After losing her first decision, she won three starts in a row. She currently has an overall ERA of 4.24 and 21 strikeouts. She picked up her first career collegiate win on Saturday, March 4 against Utah Valley, going 4.0 innings and giving up just two runs. Bondi has made 13 starts in her first collegiate season and has become a stolen base specialist as she has gone 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts. Justine Federehas also seen significant time in her first year, starting 31 of the 37 games she has played in, looking particularly comfortable at the plate, hitting .287 on the season with 27 hits, five doubles, 10 runs scored and 13 RBI.
Petmecky, fellow junior Jade Yadao-Valdez and sophomoreMyranda Bueno have led the way among position player returners. During March, Petmecky went 20-of-55 (.363), with four doubles, seven runs scored and eight RBI. Overall, Petmecky has had a solid year, leading the team in batting average (.340), hits (51) and RBI (28) and is fourth on the team with 17 runs scored. Bueno is fourth batting average (.307), tied for fourth in hits (33) and tied for second in runs scored (20) while starting 44 games in center field. Yadao-Valdez has also been one of the most consistent players on the team, hitting .297 with 33 hits, 20 runs and seven RBI while owning the hot corner on third base.