Sophomore pitcher Rhonda Wheatley of Cal Poly Pomona says she would rather forget her team's first appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball World Series.
The hard-luck Broncos were eliminated last year in two straight extra-inning games, losing their opener 1-0 to Texas A & M in 25 innings and the second game 1-0 to Fresno State in 12 innings.
"It was our first time (in the World Series), and we really didn't know what to expect," she said. "You really have to know what to expect to be prepared for those situations."
Better Prepared This Time
Wheatley says the No. 2 ranked Broncos (50-16) are much better prepared for their second appearance in the Division I World Series, which starts with a game against Northwestern University (39-10-1) at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Smith Field in Omaha. Cal State Fullerton is ranked No. 1 in the double-elimination tournament that runs through Sunday.
"Our offense is a lot better than it was last year," Wheatley said. "Our hitting and my experience should help us this year."
Whetley certainly has gained ample experience this season having set NCAA records for most victories (46) and most games pitched (62) in a season. She is 46-14 with two saves, 22 shutouts, 1 0.22 earned-run average and 309 strikeout in 405 innings. Wheatley also has tossed four no-hitters and one perfect game.
Two of Wheatley's shutouts came in the three-game NCAA Northwest Regional against Fresno State last week in Fresno. The Broncos won the first game, 4-0, dropped the second, 1-0, and came back to take the finale, 1-0.
'Our Type of Game'
"After we lost the first game at Fresno State, we told the team not to look ahead and to forget the past and concentrate on the game right now," Pomona Coach Carol Spanks said. "We relaxed and played our type of game. The kids really responded."
"I think winning that (last) game made us a lot better club. It made us a tougher team. We had the pressure of the final game right to the end."
The Broncos and Northwestern figure to have each other well scouted because the teams have met three times this season. Pomona and Wheatley won all three games in extra innings, 1-0, 6-5 and 5-2.
Northwestern, which has won 22 straight games, is led by sophomore pitcher Lisa Ishikawa, who has a 25-5 record with a 0.39 ERA and 272 strikeouts in 233 innings. She also has tossed three no hitters, including a 6-0 victory over Indiana in the NCAA Mideast Regional final last week.
The Wildcats, who have a team batting average of .234, are led on offense by shortstop Lisa Koser, who is hitting .336 with 5 home runs and 26 runs batted in. Other hitting leaders are second baseman Lynna Hallick (.270) and third baseman Karen Lemke, who has a .236 average with 6 homers and 25 RBIs.
Pomona, hiting .214 overall, is led by first baseman Kandi Burke, who has a .327 average with 11 homers and 36 RBIs, and catcher Donna McElrea, who is batting .286 with 5 homers and 26 RBIs.