Big Sky Conference standings
GREELEY, Colo. -- Sacramento State's offense combined for 19 runs and 31 hits in a pair of mercy-rule shortened victories today over Northern Colorado in a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader. Both games were stopped after six innings as the Hornets won the first game, 10-2, and came back to win the nightcap by a 9-1 score.
The sweep allows Sacramento State (17-15, 6-1) to move all alone into first place in the Big Sky standings. The Hornets have now won three straight and nine of their last 11 games to move the overall record to a season-high two games above the .500 mark. Northern Colorado, which entered today as winners of eight of its last 11 games, dropped to 12-27 and 3-2 in the conference. The Bears opened the conference season last week by s sweeping a three-game series on the road at Weber State.
These same two teams will conclude their three-game series with a single game tomorrow at noon PDT.
Today saw the Hornets' offense hit .463 (31-for-67) with seven doubles, a home run, 18 RBIs, four walks and a .507 on-base percentage. The Hornets had 10 runs and a program-record tying 19 hits in the first game, and tacked on nine runs and 12 more hits in the second game. Sacramento State is now hitting .421 against conference competition this season, and has scored at least four runs in eight straight games. That includes three mercy rule wins in the last five games.
Not lost in the hit parade was sophomore first baseman Sasha Margulies improving her hitting streak to 11 games, which ties for the seventh longest mark in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.). It's also the longest streak by any Hornet since Marissa Navarro had a 13-game streak during parts of both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Today, Margulies reach base via hit or walk in all seven of her plate appearances (four hits, three walks). During her 11-game ride, she is hitting a robust .533 (16-for-30) with nine walks, 11 RBIs and a .641 on-base percentage.
The nightcap saw junior right-hander Caitlin Brooks return from injury and pitch for the first time since March 8. Despite the time off, Brooks was in midseason form, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out nine batters over six innings of work. She faced just four batters over the minimum.
Other Hornet highlights included true freshman Nikki Gialketsis connecting on her first career collegiate home run and finishing the day 5-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs. That included five RBIs in the second game. Paige Castro and Alexa Chattleton each had four hits during the doubleheader and Nicole Clark and Paige Martin each had three hits. Speaking of Martin, she was hit by two more pitches today, and has now been plunked 19 times this year, the second highest total in the nation.
Sacramento State tied the program single-game record for hits with 19 as the Hornets blasted Northern Colorado in a mercy-rule shortened six inning game by the score of 10-2. All nine Hornet starters had at least one hit, including three apiece from Margulies, Castro and Gialketsis, and two from Chattleton, Martin, Clark and Kortney Solis.
The Hornets had hits in every inning, and posted a crooked number of runs in the second (3 runs), 4th (2 runs) and 6th (4 runs) innings. Seven different Sacramento State players had at least one RBI, including Chattleton who was 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the second inning.
The offensive explosion of 19 hits were four more than any other game this season, and the team has tallied double figures in hits five times in the last seven games. In the four-run sixth inning, the Hornets got hits from six straight batters as Alexis Martinez, Gialketsis, Clark and Chattleton all collected RBIs during the frame.
An RBI-double from Solis and RBI-single from Margulies accounted for the two runs in the fourth inning, and a Castro RBI-single opened the game's scoring in the first.
Hornet right-hander Taylor Stroud (5-5) won her second straight decision, allowing seven hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings. Northern Colorado starter Breeanna Holliday (4-5) took the loss, yielding eight hits and four runs in 1.2 innings. Bear reliever Jayme Reddacliff didn't fare much better, allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4.1 innings.
The Hornets scored four times in both the second and fifth innings, and once more in the sixth, and were never really threatened by the Bears. In the four-run second, Gialketsis connected on a 2-2 pitch for a two-run homer which scored Castro. Later in the inning, Chattleton scored on an error and Margulies' RBI-single to left scored Martin to give the Hornets a 4-0 lead.
In the fifth, Sacramento State saw Gialketsis come through again, this time crushing a 3-2 pitch for a three-run double followed by a Clark RBI-double to give the Hornets an 8-0 lead. Northern Colorado got a solo home run in the bottom of the inning to prevent being mercy ruled after five innings, but the Hornets came right back in the sixth as a T.J. Watts pinch-hit, RBI-single increased the lead to 9-1.
Ten different Hornets had hits in the game, including two apiece from Gialketsis and Chattleton. Gialketsis went 2-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored and five RBIs. The five RBIs were the most by a Hornet since the 2012 season.
Brooks (5-4) threw 101 pitches in her return to the circle, allowing just two hits and two walks over six innings. The nine strikeouts were one shy of her season high as she struck out the side in the sixth inning to end the game.
Northern Colorado's Megan Wilkinson (6-12) got the loss, allowing eight hits and eight runs (six earned) in 4.2 innings of work.
SOFTBALL POUNDS OUT 19 RUNS AND 31 HITS IN SWEEP OF NORTHERN COLORADO
Big Sky Conference standings