Aztecs Look to Secure MW Regular Season Crown at UNLV

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego State softball team looks to claim the Mountain West regular-season championship this weekend when it travels to UNLV for games on Thursday (6 p.m. PT), Friday (3 p.m. PT) and Saturday (noon PT) at Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas. 
The Aztecs (27-16, 14-5 MW), who have a league-record eight regular-season crowns, need one victory in the series to clinch the No. 1 seed in the six-team MW Tournament, set for May 9-11 in Boise, Idaho. One win would also guarantee SDSU at least a share of the conference title, while two wins (or a Fresno State loss in a series at New Mexico) would give San Diego State the outright league title.
The Aztecs are coming a 2-1 series loss to Nevada but lead the Wolf Pack (14-8) by 1 ½ games. Fresno State and the Rebels (29-16) are tied for third in the league standings at 12-7, two games behind SDSU with San Diego State already owning the tiebreaker over FS.
The Aztecs, who have won 18 of their last 23 games (18-5), have played the 15th-toughest non-conference schedule this year, according to the latest NCAA RPI, released Tuesday. SDSU is ranked 35th overall in the metric. Out of San Diego State's 24 non-conference games this season, 17 have come against teams that made the 2023 NCAA tournament (the Aztecs are 7-10 in those games), including three against Women's College World Series programs, and nine have been against nationally ranked squads (SDSU is 2-7).
San Diego State takes a seven-game road winning streak into the UNLV series, which is tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the country and only trails Duke (9), Grand Canyon (9) and Indiana (8) (as of April 30). Additionally, the Aztecs' 10-3 road record is tied for the 14th-best road winning percentage (.769) in the country.
Mac Barbara leads SDSU in a host of categories, including batting average (.351), home runs (9), RBIs (37), hits (40), walks (30), slugging percentage (.658) and on-base percentage (.483). Barbara is the Mountain West preseason player of the year. Lala Macario (.307), meanwhile, is leading San Diego State in runs (36) and stolen bases (18), while Alyssa Garcia is hitting .304 (31-for-102) with 19 RBIs, coming on strong in league play (.357/.419/.446). After starting out the season 1-for-24, Cali Decker is back to her strong hitting and has raised her batting average to an even .300 with a home run, 20 RBis, 13 walks and a .388 on-base percentage.
The San Diego State pitching staff ranks 14th in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.27) and 31st in ERA (2.47), which is backed by a defense that has the 17th-most double plays per game (0.51) and ranks 29th in fielding percentage (.973).
Dee Dee Hernandez leads the staff with a 9-3 record, two saves and 1.81 ERA in 62 innings, striking out 33 with 10 walks, limiting the opposition to a .237 average. Cece Cellura has made the most of her first season of collegiate softball, going 7-4 with four saves and a 2.62 ERA in 93 1/3 innings. Cellura leads the country in fewest walks allowed per seven innings (0.53), and is tied for 12th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.00), tied for 15th in hit batters (2) and tied for 40th in saves (4). Defending MW Pitcher of the Year and the preseason pitcher of the year Allie Light is 10-7 with two saves and a 2.75 ERA in 109 1/3 innings, striking out 61 with 27 walks.