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May 9, 2013

SOFTBALL FALLS IN DRAMATIC FASHION, 10-9, TO IDAHO STATE IN FIRST ROUND OF BIG SKY TOURNEY

POCATELLO, Idaho -- In a game that featured four lead changes, 19 runs, 29 hits, 15 extra base hits, and an hour and 26 minute rain delay, it was a Hailey Breakwell walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning that gave Idaho State a 10-9 victory over Sacramento State in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Softball Championship Friday afternoon.

The Hornets (22-21) are still alive in the four-team, double elimination tournament, and will return to action tomorrow at noon PDT to face Southern Utah, which lost to Portland State in the other first round game today. The winner of the Sacramento State-Southern Utah game will advance to play again at 3 p.m. PDT tomorrow, and the loser will be eliminated from the tournament.

Portland State and Idaho State (29-21) will play tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. PDT, and the winner will advance to the tournament championship game on Sunday while the loser will play the winner of the Sacramento State-Southern Utah game at 3 p.m.

The Hornets trailed, 7-4, in the seventh inning before a three-run homer from Emily McCormick tied things at 7-7, and eventually forced extra innings. In the top of the eight, the Hornets got an RBI-double from Riley Price and a sacrifice fly from T.J. Watts to take what looked like a commanding 9-7 lead.

However, in the bottom of the eighth, the Bengals got two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. After Hornet reliever Taylor Stroud got Terah Blackwell to pop up for the first out, Maddy Hickman followed with a two-run double that left fielder Alexa Chattleton nearly caught for the second out. Breakwell then drove a 1-2 pitch to left field to score Vicky Galasso with the game-winning run.

The Hornets opened the scoring in the third inning with two runs on Chattleton's first career home run and an RBI-double from Alyssa Vanderdrink. However, Idaho State scored six times in the fourth off Hornet starter Caitlin Brooks after the Bengals connected on four home runs in the inning, including a three-run blast from Galasso.

Sacramento State got two back in the sixth inning on a two-run triple from Chattleton, only to see Idaho State tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to increase the lead to 7-4.

That set up McCormick's heroics as the fourth-year senior crushed an 0-2 pitch over the center field wall for a three-run homer to tie the game. After the blast, Sacramento State would load the bases with one out, but failed to tack on anymore runs.

Sacramento State left 12 runners on base during the game, while Idaho State stranded 10 runners. The Hornets left at least one runner on base in every inning and had many other opportunities to score, including Kayla Papez getting thrown out at the plate with no outs in the third inning.

The two teams combined for eight doubles, one triple and six home runs in a game that lasted three hours and 46 minutes. The nearly 90-minute rain delay came just before the sixth inning was about to start.

Brooks, who had been dominant all year long, gave up six hits and six runs with five walks and no strikeouts over four innings. It marked the most runs, earned runs and walks she has allowed in any appearance this season. Stroud threw the final 3.1 innings of relief, and got the loss after allowing seven hits and four runs.

Idaho State used four pitchers in the game, and each gave up at least two runs. Haley Douglas (2-0) got the win despite allowing both Hornet runs in the eighth inning.

Every starter from both teams reached base safely via hit and/or walk, and 10 different players had multiple-hit games. For the Hornets, both Kelli Frye and Price had three hits while Papez, Vanderdrink, McCormick and Chattleton had two hits. McCormick scored three of the team's runs while Paige Martin scored two runs after being walked once and hit by a pitch twice.

Sacramento State has now lost each of its last four one-run games, and its last four extra inning games.

The Hornets will face a Southern Utah squad that took two of three from Sacramento State earlier this season in Cedar City, Utah. The Hornets mercy ruled the Thunderbirds in the first game of the series before dropping a 3-1 decision followed by a 6-5 decision in extra innings.

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