As the countdown to USC’s first football game continues, the Trojans participated in a full-pad practice on Tuesday morning.Repeat feat · Redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler would be hard-pressed to top his last performance against Fresno State. In last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, he passed for a career-high 345 yards and four touchdowns. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanUSC head coach Steve Sarkisian stressed the importance of focus as they prepare for the Trojans’ Saturday home opener against the Fresno State Bulldogs. The team’s ability to maintain focus is already being tested as allegations swirl regarding the events involving Josh Shaw on Saturday night.First time for everythingSarkisian was animated after practice and was noticeably excited about leading the Trojans on Saturday against Fresno State in his first game as USC’s head coach.The Southern California native reminisced about watching the 1984 Olympic Games and many Raider games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, as well as his time there as an assistant at USC.“I joked with the players the other day during the mock game,” Sarkisian said. “Cody [Kessler], Hayes [Pullard] and I were kind of out on the field earlier, throwing it around and I said, ‘I don’t know who’s gonna be more excited, you guys or me the first time we come down.’”Know yourself, know your enemyAs game day creeps ever closer for the Trojans, Sarkisian seemed pleased with his team’s Tuesday morning practice.“I thought they were focused, competitive,” Sarkisian said. “I though Cody was extremely sharp throwing the ball and I think we’re in a good place.”Sarkisian also noted that he is trying to make his team focus more on itself and its own strengths and weaknesses than on its opponent’s game.The Bulldogs’ strengths might be tough to pinpoint anyway since losing their star quarterback Derek Carr to the NFL. Carr led the nation in passing yards (5,083) and touchdowns (50) in 2013 and was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter has yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game. Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette have been locked in competition since Connette transferred from Duke, and both are slated to appear in Saturday’s game.“They’re both good athletes, they’re both good runners and can throw it,” Sarkisian said. “I’m sure we’ll have a couple wrinkles for each guy.”Freshman phenomAjene Harris, a true freshman wide receiver out of Crenshaw High School, displayed more moxie than might have been expected at such a young age.His dedication and work ethic landed him a starting spot as the team’s third starting wide receiver.“The work that I put in paid off, but I’m not really settling on that,” Harris said. “I’m ready to work every day.”
University of Wisconsin softball pitcher Kirsten Stevens was awarded Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the first time in her career at University of Wisconsin.Monday marked the second consecutive week the Badgers softball team bullpen has been recognized with Big Ten weekly honors.Stevens provided solid innings from the mound for the Badgers (12-2) all weekend at the 2017 Sheraton Invitational tournament held in Fort Myers, Florida at Florida Gulf Coast University’s home campus.Softball: Badgers face lesser foes in Florida at Sheraton InvitationalAs February winds down, 16 games remain until Big Ten play begins for the University of Wisconsin softball team. For these next Read…The senior bagged two wins during the weekend showing by the red hot Badgers, both of which were shutouts. Stevens controlled both games from the pitch for Wisconsin, defeating Florida International University 5-0 and Hofstra 4-0 in her two starts. The Badgers pitching core has been a staple in the team’s best start in program history. Freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Menz improved her season record to 7-2 in the Badgers latest win over Rutgers in the Sheraton Invitational tournament Sunday. In the 5-1 Wisconsin win, Menz sent three batters back to the dugout on strikeouts. The Badgers 4-0 win over Hofstra gave Stevens her third shutout of the season in part of her new career-high, 11-strikeout performance against Hofstra. Stevens led the Badgers to their third shutout of the year over FIU after recording five strikeouts.Softball: Wisconsin concludes successful weekend in Florida with some hardwareThe University of Wisconsin softball team concluded an incredibly successful tournament in Florida over the weekend with an overall record of Read…Wisconsin’s offense had an impressive performance as well, tying the team’s season-high of 11 hits against the Scarlet Knights. Junior Kelsey Jenkins went a perfect 3-for-3 at bat for the second time this season.Stevens has managed a stingy 0.28 ERA on the season to date. Stevens is also limiting opposing batters to a mere .172 batting average overall, while notching 32 K’s in only five games.She is the 15th Badger pitcher to receive the weekly honor from the Big Ten, and the first Wisconsin pitcher since former Badger and current volunteer assistant coach Taylor-Paige Stewart received the award back in 2014.