South Dakota State makes its debut on Thursday when the Jackrabbits kick off the 2024 season on opening day by taking on Fresno State at the Bulldogs’ Margie Wright Diamond at 8 p.m. CT. The Jackrabbits are slated to play a total of five games over the course of three days at the Fresno State Kickoff Classic. SDSU competes in a pair of games on Friday and Saturday apiece with CSU Bakersfield and Santa Clara included in the event field.
The Jackrabbits return to action following a strong 2023 campaign. SDSU earned its third straight regular season conference title, its first three in its program’s history, with an undefeated 17-0 run through the Summit League. The Jacks were beaten in The Summit League Tournament championship game by Omaha, ending their title reign at two years. With a top-50 RPI among Division I squads, SDSU was selected to participate in the National Invitational Softball Championship in Fort Collins, Colo. The postseason tournament appearance was the sixth all-time for SDSU. A 2-2 stay at the NISC ended the Jackrabbits’ season with a 39-19 overall record.
SDSU brings one of the most experienced lineups in Division I softball back to its core for the 2024 slate. The Jackrabbits lost just one starter from their 2023 squad. SDSU has 12 upperclassmen among its pitching staff and position players that have served as starters routinely in the past with at least eight expected to be in the opening day lineup.
The Jackrabbits will feature a rotation that returns both of its starting pitchers along with its top reliever a season ago. Tori Kniesche, Shannon Lasey and Alexa Williams are expected to do the majority of the work for SDSU in the circle this season.
Kniesche is a standout at the national level among pitchers. The senior from Wayne, Neb., was ranked as the 17th best pitcher and 42nd overall top player in the preseason rankings by Softball America, while she was listed at 59th among the nation’s best player by DI Softball. She heads into her fourth season in Yellow and Blue as the program record holder in victories (63), shutouts (30 and strikeouts (715), while her current career ERA of 1.52 is the best by nearly .30. She also a three-time All-Summit League First Team recipient and two-time Pitcher of the Year.
Lasey and Williams bring a season as Jackrabbits under their belt into 2024. Both were honorable mentions to the All-Summit League team in 2023. Lasey went 15-7 last year with a 3.42 ERA across 32 appearances, while Williams had a 3.02 ERA in 18 games, primarily serving as a designated player.
The infield will be boosted by returning All-Summit League First Team performers in Rozelyn Carrillo and Mia Jarecki. Carrillo hit .407 in league last season and ranks on the SDSU top 10 charts in career batting average (.329), runs (105), doubles (33), home runs (23) and RBIs (111). Jarecki led SDSU a season ago in batting average (.337), hits (62), home runs (7), stolen bases (12) and runs (48).
SDSU’s outfield features three-year starters in Jocelyn Carrillo, Lindsey Culver and Emma Osmundson. Each of the trio has all earned All-Summit League accolades at least once. All three started in every game for the Jackrabbits last season.
The Jackrabbit catcher position features experience at the college level between Brooke Dumont and Madi Conklin. Dumont has started in over 70 games as a Jackrabbit and was a Summit League All-Tournament selection in 2023. Conklin spent the last two years at Arkansas.
South Dakota State’s games against host Fresno State will be streamed on the Mountain West Network which is available online or on the conference’s app. Live stats for all five games the Jackrabbits play in are available on GoJacksLive.com. For more information about Jackrabbit softball, you can follow the team social media accounts (@GoJacksSB) or visit the team page at GoJacks.com.