Athletics: Women's Basketball WCC Schedule Revealed; Race For Change 5K; Golf Finishes Third; Softball Adds Shay Knighten

Athletics: Women's Basketball WCC Schedule Revealed; Race For Change 5K; Golf Finishes Third; Softball Adds Shay Knighten

Here’s a roundup of news and notes from USD Athletics’ website


Women’s Basketball

West Coast Conference Schedule Announced

The West Coast Conference announced its 2020-21 women's basketball schedule Wednesday and one highlight for the University of San Diego is that it will open WCC play on December 28 against Santa Clara inside Jenny Craig Pavilion, marking the program’s first home conference opener since 2016.

The Toreros look to build upon an impressive run in 2019-20 in which they finished second in the WCC regular-season standings and lost in the WCC Tournament title game, 64-63 in overtime, to Portland. The Toreros had qualified for the WNIT when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in mid-March.

San Diego begins its 2020-21 slate with three straight home contests, taking on Santa Clara, San Francisco and BYU. USD travels to Pepperdine and LMU before returning home against Pacific on January 14.

The Toreros will face their longest road streak January 21-30 with visits to Gonzaga, Portland and BYU. The January 23 contest against Portland marks USD's first meeting with the Pilots since the WCC Tournament title game.

Starting February 4, the WCC slate breaks into two home and then two away games through February 27. San Diego will host LMU and Pepperdine, before the second meeting against Portland February 18 inside the JCP.

The Toreros' final home game is February 20 against Gonzaga. USD closes out the regular season at San Francisco and Santa Clara on February 25 and 27. 

The road to the postseason begins March 4 as the conference will celebrate its 13th year in Las Vegas and the 2021 West Coast Conference Basketball Championship Tournament returns to the Orleans Arena.
San Diego returns a wealth of experience in 2020-21, including three starters in All-WCC selections Myah Pace and Jordyn Edwards and fellow senior guard Sydney Hunter. The Toreros have three newcomers in transfer Steph Gorman and incoming freshmen Laura Erikstrup and Gabby Giuffre.

Women’s Basketball Joins Race for Change Virtual 5K Event

San Diego women's basketball is set to participate in Race for Change, a virtual 5k race October 15-18 led by UC San Diego's basketball programs. The Toreros have organized a fundraising campaign to support and bring awareness to the Bernie Bickerstaff Diversity and Inclusion Fund.

The race was created to address racial equality across the country with each program choosing their own fundraising initiative. The mission of Race for Change is to strive for justice, while creating sustainable change in as many communities as possible.

"We are excited to join forces with other Division I men and women's programs around the country to 'stride for justice'," said head coach Cindy Fisher. "We must keep working hard as a program to create change in our communities. We are committed as a program to continue to educate ourselves and others on social justice."

The Bernie Bickerstaff Diversity and Inclusion Fund was formed in Summer 2020 to directly support programming and educational resources for Torero scholar-athletes. The fund aims to provide holistic support, education, leadership and advocacy training for scholar-athletes, coaches and staff, while celebrating and empowering the USD Athletics community.

The Toreros encourage fans, alumni and program supporters to participate in Race for Change with the players and staff who will walk together October 18 on campus. Participants can take part in the virtual 5k any day between Oct. 15-18, which can be run or walked in a socially distanced setting. Donations for Race for Change should be directed to the Bernie Bickerstaff Diversity and Inclusion Fund.


Toreros, Behind Xu, Finish Third in Tournament

Guided by a top-10 finish from Andi Xu in his collegiate debut, San Diego golf moved up one spot in the final round Tuesday at the Pasadera Collegiate Invite at The Club at Pasadera in Monterey, Calif., to finish third in the field.

Xu, a true freshman, was one of nine players in the tournament to shoot all of his rounds in the 60s as he finished tied for seventh with an 8-under 202 (66-68-68). In 54 holes, he had 14 birdies and only six bogeys.

Making their 2020-21 debut as a team, the Toreros had the second-best team score in Tuesday's final round, carding a 3-under 277 to finish at 13-under (281-269-277) for the tournament. They were five strokes behind second-place LMU while Pepperdine won the event with a 46-under (265-264-265).

Redshirt sophomore and newcomer Charlie Reiter helped USD’s team placement by finishing in the top-10. The USC transfer shot 5-under 205 for the tournament, including two rounds in the 60s (69-64-72), to finish tied for 10th.

Redshirt junior Donald Kay, a key returner from last year's team, closed out the tournament with back-to-back 68s to help him finish tied for 22nd with a 2-over 212 (76-68-68). He had five birdies in Tuesday's round. Redshirt sophomore Harrison Kingsley rounded out the scoring for the Toreros on Tuesday as he made a six-stroke improvement between the second and final rounds. He shot 1-under 69 and finished tied for 29th overall (7-over 217, 73-75-69).

The Toreros return to action on Oct. 19-20 with the La Purisima College Invite at the La Purisima Golf Course in Lompoc, Calif.


Shay Knighten Named Assistant Coach

Two-time national champion and former All-American Shay Knighten has been named as an assistant coach for San Diego softball, head coach MJ Knighten announced on Oct. 7.

"Shay is the definition of championship mindset," said MJ Knighten. "Her background and resume speak for itself. She knows what it takes to win and to win often. Shay's knowledge of the game, especially as a hitter, is going to get our offense exactly where it needs to be. I know she is going to be a great addition to our coaching staff."

Shay joins the staff after a standout career at Oklahoma and in the National Pro Fastpitch League.

"I am very excited to begin my coaching journey and share my passion and love for this game with our scholar-athletes at USD," Shay Knighten said. "This group of women are special, and I'm excited to get to work with them. I can't wait to get on the field and work hard for this upcoming season. It's going to be fun!"

Knighten adds to the wealth of elite softball experience on the San Diego staff after helping lead the Sooners to back-to-back national titles in 2016 and 2017. The Buena Park, Calif., native was known for her bat during her collegiate career after hitting .360 over four seasons and tallying 247 hits and 42 home runs. In the memorable 2017 postseason run for the Sooners, she had a career-best 12-game hitting streak that covered every game of the postseason and multiple game-defining moments during the Women's College World Series.

She started 233 of 239 career games at Oklahoma and finished her career ranked fourth in sacrifice flies (10) and sixth in RBIs (197). She was a 2016 and 2017 NFCA Second Team All-American, the Most Outstanding Player in the 2017 WCWS, 2017 Big 12 Player of the Year, and a four-time All-Big 12 honoree.

In 2019, she was selected 20th overall by the USSSA Pride who went on to win the NPF Championship that summer. Along with her playing duties, she helped orchestrate camp activities and coached over 200 youth athletes for the organization.

In her role with San Diego, Knighten will work with hitters and infielders and will be tasked with recruiting, scheduling and assisting in fundraising efforts. Her role with the Toreros will be her second stop in a college coaching capacity as she was an undergraduate assistant coach for the Sooners in 2019-20. Knighten earned a degree in human relations from Oklahoma last May.

For the latest USD Athletics news and information, visit the website and follow the Toreros on social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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