BIG SKY CONFERENCE STANDINGS
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado had eight runs and 13 hits, and Bears' pitcher Megan Wilkinson allowed just five hits and one run on the way to an 8-1 victory over Sacramento State in the third and final game of a Big Sky Conference three-game softball series Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss, the Hornets (17-16, 6-2) still won the three-game series after sweeping a doubleheader from Northern Colorado yesterday. At the midway point of the conference season, Sacramento State finds itself in a tie for first place in the Big Sky standings with Southern Utah.
Today was the exact opposite of what transpired yesterday as the Hornets combined for 19 runs and 31 hits in a pair of mercy-rule shortened victories over Northern Colorado (13-27, 4-2). Today, it was the Bears' offense that broke out against Hornet pitchers Kaitlyn Yerby and Jennifer Hartman. It was Wilkinson who was tagged for eight hits and eight runs in 4.2 innings yesterday before shutting down the Hornet offensive attack today.
In addition, Hornet first baseman Sasha Margulies went 0-for-2 with a walk, and saw her 11-game hitting streak come to an end. The 11-game streak ties for the seventh longest in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.). Margulies is still batting .579 against conference competition with a .714 on-base percentage, and both marks are easily tops in the Big Sky.
Northern Colorado scored runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings and were never threatened after taking a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third. The Hornets had just two hits the final four innings of the contest.
After the Bears took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, the Hornets tied it a 1-1 in the top of the third on an RBI-single from Kortney Solis which scored Alexa Chattleton. After Chattleton crossed the plate, Sacramento State still had runners at first and second with one out, but could not score again. The Hornets failed to get a runner past first base the rest of the afternoon.
Northern Colorado received at least one hit from all nine starters, and saw each of their first six batters in the lineup record at least one RBI. A sacrifice fly from leadoff hitter Erica Dick and an RBI-double from No. 3 hitter Mikayla Duffy in the bottom of the third gave the Bears a 3-1 lead.
That was more than enough run support for Wilkinson, who allowed just five singles and a run over seven innings. She improved her record to 7-12 and needed 121 pitches in the complete-game victory.
Yerby (3-2) worked the first 2.2 innings in the loss while Hartman pitched the final 3.1 innings in relief.
Paige Martin was the only Hornet with a multiple-hit game as she went 2-for-3. Martin was also hit by a pitch for the 20th time this season, which ties for the national lead. In addition, Martin has now been hit by at least one pitch in five straight games.
The Hornets will play four times on the road next week, beginning with a makeup game at Pacific on Tuesday at 6 p.m., before traveling to Pocatello for a three-game series at Idaho State on April 11-12. Idaho State and Northern Colorado are currently tied for third place in the Big Sky standings with a 4-2 record. Sacramento State was supposed to play Pacific on Feb. 8 in what would have been the season opener, but that game was postponed because of rain.