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SOFTBALL MERCY RULES NORTHERN COLORADO, COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP

SOFTBALL MERCY RULES NORTHERN COLORADO, COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sophomore Shelby Johnston and freshman Marissa Maligad both had three RBIs, and freshman Celina Matthias threw her first career shutout to lead Sacramento State to an 8-0 victory over Northern Colorado in the final game of a three-game Big Sky Conference softball series on Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium.

The game was stopped after six innings because of the eight-run mercy rule. With the victory, the Hornets opened the Big Sky portion of the season with a three-game sweep of the Bears and improved to 13-16 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky. Northern Colorado dropped to 5-16-1 overall and 0-3 in the conference.

Sacramento State swept a doubleheader against the Bears yesterday, winning the first game, 6-1, before coming back to take the nightcap, 5-4. The Hornets have now won four straight and are 6-4 on their current 14-game homestand

During the three-game series, the Hornet offense was impressive, scoring at least five runs in every game, and finishing with a .363 (29-for-80) batting average with 19 runs scored, 14 RBIs and a .469 on-base percentage. Four different Hornets hit at least .500 in the series, comprised of Maligad (.750, 6-for-8 with a run, double, triple and team-high five RBIs), senior Paige Martin (.500, 5-for-10), junior Kortney Solis (.500, 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs), and senior Alexa Chattleton (.500, 3-for-6 with six runs, six walks and a .750 on-base percentage).

Not to be outdone, Sacramento State's pitching staff was dominant as well, as the right arms of Celina Matthias and Caitlin Brooks combined to limit the Bears to just two earned runs in 20.0 innings, good for a 0.70 ERA. Northern Colorado batters combined to hit just .164, as Matthias picked up two wins in the series and Brooks had one victory.

Matthias (7-7) was on her game today, allowing just three hits with no walks and six strikeouts in six innings. The true freshman tossed her first shutout in a Sacramento State uniform, and had a stretch of nine straight retired batters early in today's game, followed by a stretch of seven consecutive batters later in the contest. She faced just three batters over the minimum and allowed just one Northern Colorado batter past first base the entire afternoon.

Sacramento State scored single runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings, and put up a crooked number (5) in the fifth inning. Johnston finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including RBI-singles in the second and fourth innings, and a walkoff RBI-single scoring Sasha Margulies in the sixth.

In the Hornets' big fifth inning, Sacramento State took advantage of a hit batter and two walks, and poured it on with a bases-loaded walk to Solis, an RBI-groundout by Nicole Clark and the big blow, a three-run double from Maligad.

Maligad finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Margulies was 2-for-4 with two runs, and Chattleton reached base safely in all four plate appearances, going 1-for-1 with three walks and three runs scored.

For Northern Colorado, starter Jayme Reddacliff (4-9) took the loss, allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) over four innings. Reliever Kelli Kleis gave up six runs over 1.2 innings of relief.

Sacramento State continues the long homestand with four more home games next week, including a single game on Wednesday vs. Cal at 3 p.m., followed by a Big Sky three-game series with league newcomer Montana on Saturday and Sunday.