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SOFTBALL POUNDS OUT 7 RUNS AND 12 HITS, BUT FALLS AT SOUTHERN UTAH, 11-7

SOFTBALL POUNDS OUT 7 RUNS AND 12 HITS, BUT FALLS AT SOUTHERN UTAH, 11-7

CEDAR CITY, Utah -- Southern Utah scored nine times during the first two innings, and held on for an 11-7 victory over Sacramento State in the rubber game of a three-game Big Sky Conference softball series Saturday afternoon at Kathryn Berg Field.

The loss dropped the Hornets to 17-19 overall and 7-2 in the Big Sky. Sacramento State had entered the three-game series with a 6-0 Big Sky record, but lost two of three to Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds improved to 12-22 and 4-5 in the conference. Southern Utah is now 7-3 against Sacramento State dating back to the 2013 season.

The Hornets are now locked in a three-way tie for first place with Idaho State and Weber State as all three teams have 7-2 league marks. Idaho State took two of three games from Weber State this week in Pocatello.

Sacramento State hit well enough to win the series, but the Hornets' pitching staff had problems containing the Thunderbird offense. As a team, during the three-game the series, the Hornets batted .295 while averaging 5.7 runs per game. However, the combination of three Sacramento State pitchers combined for a 9.55 ERA, as Southern Utah averaged 8.7 runs per game and connected for 11 extra base hits, including four home runs over 18.1 innings.

Usually a strength for Sacramento State, Hornet pitchers have allowed at least eight runs in four of the last seven games.

In today's game, Southern Utah scored twice in the first inning, seven times in the second, and once more in both the fifth and sixth innings. Sacramento State had a 4-2 lead after scoring four times in the top of the second, but Southern Utah immediately responded with its big bottom half of the inning. The Hornets closed to within, 9-7, with three runs in the fourth, but the Thunderbirds scored insurance runs in the fifth and sixth while Sacramento State did not score the final three innings of the game.

Three Hornet pitchers made appearances in the game, comprised of Celina Matthias (1.1 ip), Kaitlyn Yerby (3.2 ip) and Caitlin Brooks (1.0 ip). Brooks was effective, allowing no hits and no runs with two strikeouts in the sixth.

Sacramento State scored its four runs in the second inning on two-run singles from Paige Castro and Shelby Johnston, and had the bases loaded with two outs, but Alexa Chattleton lined out to left field to end the inning. In the fourth, Sacramento State scored three times after the first two outs of the inning were recorded. Back-to-back doubles from Sasha Margulies and Chattleton got the Hornets their first run followed by an Alexis Martinez RBI-double, and later an error that allowed Kortney Solis to score.

The Hornets stranded 11 runners on base, including multiple runners in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. Solis finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored while Zamari Hinton, Margulies and Martinez each had a pair of hits. Johnston and Castro both had two RBIs. Sacramento State's Nos. 4-9 batters all scored at least one run.

Matthias (8-10) took the loss, and Southern Utah's Katie Greenberg (7-9) got the win despite allowing 12 hits and seven runs (four earned) over seven innings.

Sacramento State returns to action next week to play four games. The first of which will be a home game against rival UC Davis on Wednesday at 4 p.m., followed by the Hornets travelling to Grand Forks for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday at North Dakota.