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SOFTBALL COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP OF MONTANA WITH 9-1 MERCY RULE VICTORY

SOFTBALL COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP OF MONTANA WITH 9-1 MERCY RULE VICTORY

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State received a three-run home run from Kortney Solis and a walkoff RBI-double from Zamari Hinton to highlight the Hornets' 9-1 victory in the final game of a three-game sweep of Montana on Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The game was stopped in the bottom of the fifth inning after Hinton's two-run double because of the eight-run mercy rule.

Coupled with yesterday's doubleheader sweep of the Grizzlies, the Hornets took all three games in the series. The Hornets, who won for the sixth time in their last seven games, improved to 16-17 overall and 6-0 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State has won its first six games of conference play for the first time since the 1993 squad was 6-0 in Western Athletic Conference play. No team during the program's Div. I era (1990-pres.) has ever won the first seven games of conference play.

Today also concluded a stretch that saw the Hornets play 14 straight games at home, as Sacramento State finished with a 9-5 record on the homestand. Through two weeks of the conference season, Sacramento State and Weber State both sit atop the conference standings with a 6-0 record while Idaho State is 5-1 to round out the top three places in the eight-team league.

Montana, which is a first-year softball program, dropped to 5-25 overall and 1-5 in league. Sacramento State scored nine runs in all three games of the series, posting a 9-8, 11-inning win in the first game of the series before back-to-back 9-1 victories to conclude the three-game set.

During the three-game series, Sacramento State's offense combined to hit .329 (28-for-85) with five doubles, two home runs, 25 RBIs and a .431 on-base percentage. The Hornet pitching staff posted a 3.00 ERA, including senior Caitlin Brooks going 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA over her two starts.

Overall, in six Big Sky games, the Hornets are batting .345 as a team, and the pitching staff has a 1.88 ERA while limiting the opposition to just a .227 batting average.

"Overall, during the three-game series, we did a good job of playing the game of softball, from studying what the pitchers were giving to us in the circle and adjusting, to getting a good effort from our pitching staff," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "We made smart decisions, put forth quality at-bats, and proved how consistent we can be on offense.

"We have the team to compete and be successful in this conference. We feel confident in our ability to pitch good games, back it up with our defense, and let our offense be the catalyst. One of our goals was to win every conference game at home, and we are off to a good start in that regard."

In today's game, Montana scored the game's first run in the top of the third inning, before the Hornets dropped seven runs in the bottom of the third, and two more in the fifth to enforce the mercy rule. Sacramento State finished the game with nine runs and nine hits, and had little trouble against either of Montana's pitchers.

In the seven-run third inning, the Hornets sent 13 batters to the plate. In fact, after Montana starter Kenzie Cole got the first out of the inning, 10 straight Sacramento State players reached base safely. The seven runs in the inning were scored via three-run homer from Kortney Solis, a two-run single from Alexa Chattleton, RBI-singles from Alexis Martinez and Shelby Johnston, and a bases-loaded walk to Paige Martin. The Hornets had five hits in the inning and took advantage of two Montana errors.

The home run for Solis was her first of the season, and came on a 2-2 pitch which she hit on a line over the right field wall.

In the fifth inning, after the first out of the inning was recorded, a Martinez double, a Marissa Maligad single and a hit-by-pitch to Martin loaded the bases. Hinton then drove a 1-1 pitch to right-center field and the ball bounced up against the wall, allowing Maligad and Clark to score.

Brooks (7-3) got her second win of the series, allowing just one run and two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts over five innings. She lowered her season ERA to 2.71, and her ERA against conference competition now stands at 1.24. Cole (3-12) took the loss for Montana, allowing six runs (five earned) and four hits over 2.1 innings.

Sacramento State, which will play its next six conference games on the road, returns to action next week when the team plays a three-game series at Southern Utah. The Hornets and Thunderbirds will play a pair of game s on Friday, followed by a single game on Saturday.