A Look Ahead to the Year in Sports

As we gear up for the 2015-2016 Hornet sports season, here are five storylines to follow:

Men’s Basketball

Sacramento State seeks to build upon its record-setting 2014-15 season where the team finished with a 21-12 overall record while making its first-ever Div. I postseason appearance. The 21 victories were tied for the second most in program history (1948-present) and the Hornets’ win over Portland in the College Insider.com Postseason Tournament marked the program’s first postseason win in 53 years. Sacramento State returns 10 players from last season’s squad, including starters Cody Demps, Nick Hornsby and Eric Stuteville. However, the Hornets will have to compensate for the loss of guards Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity, who both graduated and recently signed professional contracts to play overseas.

MEN’S BASKETBALL—Senior guard Cody Demps

Football

With three returning all-Big Sky Conference selections, the Hornets look to their veteran leaders to build on the momentum established at the end of the 2014 season. The team won its final four games, including a 41-30 victory over UC Davis in the Causeway Classic. The team will have to deal with the graduation of record-breaking quarterback Garrett Safron and All-American wide receiver DeAndre Carter. Senior wide receiver Nnamdi Agude is coming off a 1,000-yard season and will be joined by fellow senior wideout Shane Harrison. Defensively, senior linebacker Darnell Sankey is a preseason All-American and a candidate for the Football Championship Subdivision National Defensive Player of the Year.

FOOTBALL—Senior linebacker Darnell Sankey (#44, left)

Women’s Basketball

The Sac State Women’s Basketball team is in search of another record-breaking year under head coach Bunky Harkleroad. The Hornets secured their first-ever Div. I postseason victories last season, advancing to the Round of 16 in the 2015 Women’s National Invitation Tournament. In two seasons under Harkleroad, the Hornets have twice broken the NCAA Div. I single-season records for three-pointers made and attempted and they led the NCAA in three-pointers, steals, offensive rebounds and turnover margin during the 2014-15 season. The team returns three starters and 10 total players for the upcoming season, including the Big Sky Conference’s top reserve and all-league selection Gretchen Harrigan.

 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL—Junior forward Gretchen Harrigan

Women’s Tennis

Women’s Tennis is on pace to claim its 16th consecutive Big Sky Conference championship in 2016 after earning the regular season title last season with a perfect 11-0 conference record. The team also had wins over nationally ranked Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. The Hornets have won the Big Sky’s regular season and/or tournament titles every year since 2002 and have made 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament during that stretch. In 2016, Sacramento State will return all 10 of its players who competed last season, led by first team all-Big Sky selections Deimante Bulatovaite, Daria Savchenko and Alina Soltanici.


WOMEN’S TENNIS—Junior Alina Soltanici

Baseball

During the offseason, Hornet Baseball got a brand new playing surface at John Smith Field. The re-graded field helps eliminate the drop-off from the infield dirt to the outfield grass while improving student-athlete safety. In addition, the new field’s irrigation system is designed to conserve water and minimize future needs by 25 percent. The Hornets will return seven position starters from 2015 as well as starting pitchers Sam Long and Justin Dillon and several relievers. Sacramento State will be playing for a second Western Athletic Conference title in the last three years.

BASEBALL—Junior pitcher Sam Long

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