Big Sky Conference standings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sophomore Alexis Martinez crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning and senior Caitlin Brooks tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Sacramento State to a 2-0 victory over Weber State in the rubber game of a three-game Big Sky Conference softball series on Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
The win allowed the Hornets (23-24, 12-6) to move all alone into second place in the Big Sky standings with three games remaining on the regular season schedule. Those final three games will come next week at Portland State. Idaho State, which lost to Northern Colorado today, remains in first place with a 14-4 conference record. Sacramento State is two games behind in second place, followed by Weber State (31-17, 10-6), Northern Colorado (9-7), Southern Utah (8-10), Montana (8-10) and Portland State (8-10) to round out the top seven places in the eight-member league.
The top four teams qualify for the Big Sky Tournament (May 7-9) and Idaho State needs to win just one game next week at home against North Dakota to clinch the regular season title and host the postseason event. The only way the Hornets win the regular season title and gain the right to host is if they sweep Portland State and Idaho State is swept by North Dakota. Idaho State holds the tiebreaker over Sacramento State should the two teams finish tied atop the conference standings.
Idaho State, Sacramento State and Weber State have all clinched spots in the Big Sky Tournament while there is a four-team battle for the fourth and final spot.
Today marked the final home game of the regular season for Sacramento State as Hornet seniors Brooks, Paige Castro, Alexa Chattleton, Nicole Clark, Paige Martin and Paris Prado were honored prior to the game for their contributions to the program.
The win allowed Sacramento State to take two of three games from Weber State in a series that started with both teams in a tie for second place. Brooks tossed a three-hit shutout in yesterday's 1-0 victory, and posted shutouts on back-to-back days against the Wildcats. In fact, in 14.0 innings against Weber State in the series, Brooks allowed just five hits while walking six and striking out 18 batters. Weber State combined to hit just .111 against the senior right-hander and only one runner advanced past second base.
Much like yesterday's 1-0 victory in which the Hornets won in the seventh inning, Brooks was locked in a pitchers duel with Weber State starter MaCauley Flint. Both pitchers had shutouts through five innings, and the Hornets didn't get their first hit until a Sasha Margulies single to center field with one out in the sixth. Two batters later, Martinez crushed a 1-0 pitch over the left-center field fence for her third home run of the season. Those were the only hits Sacramento State had against Flint all day.
The two runs were more than enough for Brooks, who did not allow a hit the final five innings of the game. Weber State had singles in the first and second innings, and zero hits the rest of the way. Brooks (11-5) finished the game allowing just the two singles with three walks and five strikeouts over seven innings. She threw 116 pitches, faced six batters over the minimum and ended the game in a quick one hour and 40 minutes.
Brooks ran into some trouble in the sixth inning as a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with two outs, but Brooks got Sara Hingsberger to strike out on a 1-2 pitch and end the threat.
Margulies' single in the sixth inning extended her hitting streak to a career-high 13 games, which is tied for the fourth longest streak in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.).
Flint (9-7) was the tough-luck losing pitcher for the second straight day as she allowed just the two hits and two runs while walking three and striking out five over six innings.
The Hornets wrap up the regular season next week at Portland State when the teams play a doubleheader on Friday, followed by a single game on Saturday.
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