SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State senior Caitlin Brooks tossed a three-hit shutout while striking out 13 batters as the Hornets split a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader with Weber State on Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Brooks' gem led the Hornets to a 1-0 victory in the first game of the double dip, while Weber State took the nightcap by a 9-5 score.
With the split, both the Hornets (22-24, 11-6) and Wildcats (31-16, 10-5) remain in a virtual tie for second place in the league standings, three games behind first-place Idaho State (14-3). Only four games remain in the regular season for all three teams. The Hornets and Wildcats will play the rubber game of the three-game series tomorrow at noon. Tomorrow will also mark the final home game for Sacramento State as seniors Brooks, Paige Castro, Alexa Chattleton, Nicole Clark, Paige Martin and Paris Prado will be honored for their contributions to the program prior to the game.
The top four squads in the eight-team Big Sky qualify for the conference tournament in two weeks, and Idaho State's magic number to clinch the regular season and host the tournament is down to two.
Hornet junior Sasha Margulies had a hit in both games to extend her hitting streak to a career-best 12 games, which is tied for the sixth longest streak in the program's Div. I era. In addition, Martin extended her streak of reaching base safely via hit and/or error to 28 consecutive games.
Brooks was remarkable today, allowing just three singles while walking three and striking out 13 batters. The senior right-hander did not allow a Wildcat runner past second base, struck out five straight batters on two different occasions during the game, and faced just five batters over the minimum. In fact, Brooks struck out the side in the final inning and fanned the final five batters of the game. The 13 K's marked the third time this season she has posted double figures in strikeouts, and were three shy of her career high.
Brooks, who improved to 10-5 with the victory, was locked in a pitchers duel with Weber State's MaCauley Flint as both pitchers were working on shutouts through the first six innings of the game.
However, the Hornets finally broke through in the seventh when, with one out, Nicole Clark and Marissa Maligad had back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second base. Alexa Chattleton followed with a hard hit ball to second base that resulted in the second out, but advanced the base runners to second and third.
Zamari Hinton then hit a slow chopper to shortstop Aubrey Whitmer who had to rush her throw to get the speedy Hinton, but threw the ball in the dirt and eluded the glove of first baseman Krystin Kubo. As the ball squired away from Kubo, Clark was able to score easily from third base with the game-winning run. Whitmer was credited with an error as the Hornets were able to post the walk-off win via the miscue.
The Hornets had just five hits off MaCauley, and no players from either team finished with a multiple-hit game. Chattleton, Martin, Margulies, Maligad and Clark had the Sacramento State hits. MaCauley (9-6) was the hard-luck losing pitcher, allowing just five hits and one unearned run while striking out seven batters in 6.2 innings.
Weber State scored in four different innings, and posted crooked numbers in the fourth (three runs) and sixth innings (four runs) to help put the game away. The two teams combined for 27 hits (13 for Sacramento State), as eight of the Hornets' nine batters in the lineup had at least one hit. The Hornets stranded 13 runners on base, including two runners aboard in the first and sixth innings, and bases loaded in the fifth and seventh innings.
Sacramento State took its lone lead of the game in the bottom of the first after two-out, RBI-single from Shelby Johnston and Alexis Martinez scored Hinton and Margulies, respectively. However, the Wildcats immediately tied the score via solo homer from Kubo in the top of the second off Hornet starter Kaitlyn Yerby.
Weber State then added three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-2 lead, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double from Alyson Kulp. Sacramento State closed the deficit to 5-4 in the fifth inning via two-out, RBI-singles from Martinez and Clark. The Hornets then loaded the bases, but Maligad struck out to end the frame.
The Wildcats sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth inning against Hornet reliever Celina Matthias, scoring four times on five hits and opening up a 9-4 lead. Sacramento State got a run back in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI-single from Johnston, but would get no closer the rest of the way.
The Hornets did load the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, and got the tying run to the plate in Martin, but Wildcat reliever Kirtlyn Bohling got Martin to pop out and end the game.
In just her third start of the season, Yerby (3-1) took the loss, allowing five runs and eight hits in 4.2 innings. Weber State used three pitchers in the game, and Sierra Whitmer (6-2) earned the victory after pitching the middle two frames.
Four different Hornets had multiple-hit games, including Clark (3-for-4 with an RBI), Martinez (2-for-4 with two RBIs), Johnston (2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs) and Hinton (2-for-4 with two runs).
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