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SOFTBALL SWEEPS NORTHERN COLORADO TO OPEN BIG SKY PLAY

SOFTBALL SWEEPS NORTHERN COLORADO TO OPEN BIG SKY PLAY

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State's Celina Matthias and Caitlin Brooks both pitched complete games, and Paige Martin and Marissa Maligad combined for four hits apiece to lead the Hornets to a doubleheader sweep of Northern Colorado to open the Big Sky Conference portion of the season Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium.

The Hornets won the first game, 6-1, before coming back in the nightcap to earn a 5-4 victory. The wins improved the Hornets to 12-16 overall, 2-0 in the Big Sky, and 5-4 on the team's current 14-game homestand. Northern Colorado dropped to 5-15-1 overall and 0-2 in the conference. These same teams will wrap up their three-game series tomorrow for a single game at noon.

Brooks and Matthias combined to post a 1.00 ERA while limiting Northern Colorado to a .174 batting average, and the Hornets' offense combined to hit .357 while banging out 20 hits. The team had 12 hits in the first game, and tacked on eight more hits in the nightcap.

Matthias (6-7) allowed four hits and one run over seven innings while throwing just 98 pitched to pick up her team-high ninth complete game of the season. Amazingly, over the last three days, Matthias has thrown 24.0 innings and 380 pitches, which includes pitching every inning of Wednesday's doubleheader against Nevada. Brooks (5-3) also allowed just four hits and one earned run (the Bears scored three unearned runs in the seventh inning) while throwing 143 pitches in her victory.

"Both Celina and Caitlin really battled today," Sacramento State second-year head coach Lori Perez said. "Northern Colorado is very good offensively, and both of them came up with big pitches at key times. Caitlin had a few walks, but seemed to get tougher with every out, and Celina did a very nice job considering she threw so many innings on Wednesday."

Offensively, four Hornets combined for at least three hits, comprised of Maligad (4-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs), Martin (4-for-7 with a run and an RBI), Kortney Solis (3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs) and Zimari Hinton (3-for-7 with a stolen base and an RBI). Eight different Sacramento State players had hits during the doubleheader, four of the team's six RBIs came with two outs, and the Hornets collectively hit .333 (12-for-36) with runners on base and .308 (8-for-26) with runners in scoring position.

"We are starting to solidify what our lineup is going to look like going forward, and we are beginning to execute offensively," Perez said. "We've made some adjustments to our two-strike approach and also our RBI situational hitting, and the team has done a very good job of executing that approach and putting together quality at-bats."

Sacramento State never trailed the entire afternoon.

GAME 1

The Hornets scored in four different innings, including once in the second and fourth innings, and twice in both the fifth and sixth frames. Sacramento State had 12 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort from Martin, 2-for-3 from Alexa Chattleton and 2-for-3 with two RBIs from Maligad. Both of Maligad's hits were two-out, RBI-singles.

A Maligad RBI-single scoring Solis got the Hornets on the board in the second inning, and Sacramento State tacked on another run in the fourth on a two-out, RBI-single from Hinton which scored Shelby Johnston.

After the Bears cut the lead to 2-1 with a run in the top of the fifth, the Hornets broke things open with two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. Highlighting the scoring was an RBI-grounder by Solis and an RBI-single from Maligad in the fifth inning, and in the sixth, Chattleton hit a single that got past Bear left fielder Molly Ryan and bounced all the way to the wall. Chattleton never stopped running, and flashed some impressive speed to eventually score on the play. Sasha Margulies, who had a one-out double earlier in the inning, also scored on the play.

Jayme Reddacliff (4-8) got the loss, allowing 12 hits and six runs (three earned) over six innings of work.

GAME 2

The Hornets jumped out to a 5-1 lead and withstood a late Northern Colorado rally that saw the Bears score three times in the seventh inning. In fact, the Bears had the potential tying run at second base in the seventh inning, but Brooks got pinch hitter Nicole Hudson to foul out to end the game.

The Hornets had eight hits, including two apiece from Hinton, Solis and Maligad. In the third inning, after Maligad lined a one-out triple to the right field corner, she would later score on a perfectly laid squeeze bunt from Martin. Northern Colorado tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, but the Hornets immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning when Chattleton scored on a wild pitch.

The Hornets scored two more runs in the fifth inning, all after two outs had been recorded, on an RBI-single from Solis and a fielding error allowing Chattleton to score. Sacramento State tacked on what turned out to be a huge insurance run in the sixth when another Northern Colorado error allowed Martin to score.

In the top of the seventh, the Bears used a Hornet miscue to score three unearned runs. With the Hornets leading, 5-2, and runners at first and second with two outs, cleanup hitter Morgan Yuhas laced a two-run double to the left-center field gap to get the Bears within, 5-4. However, Brooks settled down and got Hudson to pop out in foul territory on an 0-1 pitch to end the game.

Northern Colorado's Kelli Kleis (1-6) got the loss, allowing two runs and three hits over 3.2 innings. Reddacliff pitched the final 2.1 innings in relief.