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Rebels look to end season at .500 

Garie Blando (1) throws the ball back to the pitcher as UNR’s Erin Jones (7) heads to the bench after a force out at second base on March 23,2014 at Eller Media Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

 
Coming off a disappointing showing in their final game against Fresno State, the Rebels (22-27, 12-9 MW) will try to rebound as they get a break from Mountain West play to take on Oregon State (15-29, 3-15 Pac-12) this weekend at Eller Media Stadium.

The Beavers head to Las Vegas losers of nine of their last 11, and sit in last place in the Pac-12 conference.

“We got to see them once earlier this season, and I’m pretty familiar with them coming from the Pac-12,” said head coach Lisa Dodd. “They’re a good quality team, and it’s crucial that we continue to play good teams and not take anyone for granted.”

Oregon State’s only series win came at the beginning of conference play against Arizona State. Since then the Beavers have been swept in four of their last five series.

Oregon State’s offense has been a big reason why they have struggled so much, as the Beavers rank last in every major Pac-12 offensive category and only have three players hitting better than .273.

Garie Blando (1) throws the ball back to the pitcher as UNR’s Erin Jones (7) heads to the bench after a force out at second base on March 23,2014 at Eller Media Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

Garie Blando (1) throws the ball back to the pitcher as UNR’s Erin Jones (7) heads to the bench after a force out at second base on March 23,2014 at Eller Media Stadium. DANIEL WARD/THE REBEL YELL

The Beavers have yet to score in double digits in conference play, and have been shutout six times this season. They have also been outscored by a staggering amount of 166-36 in their 15 conference losses.

Coming into the season the Beavers were supposed to be lead by sophomore first baseman Natalie Hampton, but days before the season began she suffered a season-ending injury to her right hand. Hampton hit .329 as a freshman with 15 home runs and a single-season school record 50 RBIs.

The Beaver’s have also struggled in the circle with a 7.45 ERA. No Oregon State pitcher has a winning record or an ERA lower than four.

Senior UNLV right fielder Stefany Valentino went 3-for-8 in their series against Fresno State, and heads into this weekend’s games with a .392 batting average and on a 21-game hitting streak.

“I don’t really think about the streak, I didn’t even know about it until yesterday,” Valentino said. “My goal personally is just to get a walk or a hit a game.”

The Rebels bats have come alive late in the season as they lead the conference in nine offensive categories, but struggled against Fresno State being held to just four runs in three games. Their shutout on Sunday was only the third for the Rebels on the season.

“Good pitching beats good hitting, and they had a couple of quality pitchers,” Dodd said, “I thought we hit well off their pitching, but you’re just not going to score a ton of runs off a good pitcher.”

UNLV will try to end the offensive slump this weekend before they take on their final Mountain West opponent, Utah State.

With five games left in the season the Rebels have a chance to finish with a .500 record. It would be their best ending to the year since the 2011 season where they finished 27-18.

“We need to keep the same approach, and be aggressive.” Valentino said. “Stick to our game plan and I think we will be alright this weekend.”

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