Most teams say playoffs mean it's the start of a whole new season.
Cal State Stanislaus softball players are no different as they open the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship tournament today in Arcata.
There's one thing that keeps the Warriors from sounding cliché, though. Defiance. After losing in the CCAA Championship title game last season, Stanislaus went on to win the double-elimination West Region Tournament in a must-win game and make its first national championship appearance.
"A new season is starting now for everyone," catcher Jessica Scholl said. "Of course we have to take care of business. But there aren't any surprises going into the tournament."
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The Warriors are riding a little higher now than they did this time last season. They entered the 2007 CCAA Championship with an 18-15 conference record, having lost their last six games of the regular season.
They are 23-13 in CCAA play this year, and haven't lost more than four in a row. Stanislaus opened the season 0-4 and lost four consecutive games to defending CCAA champion Humboldt State on Feb. 29-March 1.
The most eyebrow-raising stat is the Warriors' 14-2 CCAA record on the road. They haven't dropped a CCAA game away from Warrior Field since the conference openers at Seaside against Cal State Monterey Bay on Feb. 22.
That makes HSU Softball Field a familiar and welcome home-away-from-home for Stanislaus.
Stanislaus opens today's tournament in Arcata ranked third in the West Region, virtually assuring itself a region tournament spot as the top eight teams in the region qualify. The Warriors moved up four positions in the Division II national poll this week, from 23rd to 19th. The only other CCAA team ranked in the nation is Humboldt State, at No. 4.
After splitting a four-game series with third-seeded Cal State San Bernardino at home last weekend, the No. 2 Warriors face the Coyotes today at 1 p.m. Both losses to San Bernardino were 3-2 decisions, both due to Coyote comebacks.
"We wanted to try to play consistent going into the CCAAs and regionals," second baseman Alicia Reid said after the series. "We feel like we're playing at a high level right now."
Reid and Casey Stephenson both hit home runs off San Bernardino State pitcher Cassidy Lee. While San Bernardino outhit Stanislaus 29-23, the teams were almost even in runners left on base -- San Bernardino stranded 24 and Stanislaus 23. Coyotes pitchers walked 16 Stanislaus batters; Stanislaus issued four.
"We're feeling pretty confident," Scholl said. "We hit off every one of their pitchers."
Live online coverage: http://csuswarriors.com/livestats/sb/