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SOFTBALL COMPLETES SWEEP OF PORTLAND STATE, EARNS THE NO. 2 SEED

SOFTBALL COMPLETES SWEEP OF PORTLAND STATE, EARNS THE NO. 2 SEED

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Sacramento State got seven strong innings from right-hander Caitlin Brooks and overcame a 2-1 sixth-inning deficit to beat Portland State, 3-2, and complete the three-game Big Sky Conference softball sweep of the Vikings on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets (26-24, 15-6) will enter next week's Big Sky Tournament as winners of four in a row and five of their last six. That includes the three-game sweep of Portland State, which saw the Hornets win by scores of 3-1 and 10-3 (in eight innings) yesterday.

Today concluded the regular season, and Idaho State (17-4) earned the No. 1 seed and will host the Big Sky Tournament, beginning on Thursday. Joining the Bengals in the four-team, double-elimination tournament will be No. 2 Sacramento State (15-6), No. 3 Weber State (13-6) and No. 4 Southern Utah (11-10). Thursday will feature Idaho State taking on Southern Utah at 12 p.m. PDT, followed by the Hornets and Weber State playing at 3 p.m. PDT.

The Hornets went 2-1 against Weber State this year, and should they beat the Wildcats on Thursday, Sacramento State would play the winner of Idaho State-Southern Utah on Friday at 9 a.m. PDT. Should the Hornets lose on Thursday, they would play on Friday at noon PDT.

Sacramento State, Idaho State and Southern Utah have each qualified for the Big Sky Tournament all three years since the league began sponsoring softball in 2013.

Of the Hornets' seven series against conference opponents this year, Sacramento State completed three-game sweeps of Northern Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Portland State. The Hornets were able to sweep the Vikings with the help of solid pitching (1.91 ERA during the three-game set) and timely hitting (.306 with runners in scoring position, six two-out RBIs).

In today's game, Sacramento State took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Margulies walked with the bases loaded to plate Paige Martin. The Hornets had an opportunity to score more, but Nicole Clark lined into a double play to end the frame.

Brooks held Portland State to no runs and just one hit through the first four innings before running into some trouble in the fifth inning. After retiring the first two batters of the fifth on strikeouts, Portland State got a walk, single and two-run triple from Ashley Smith to take a 2-1 lead.

Sacramento State would overcome a sixth-inning deficit for the second straight day as the Hornets would mount a rally in the sixth frame again today. Clark began the inning with a base hit, and, after being sacrificed to second base by Alexis Martinez, Shelby Johnston followed with an RBI-double to tie the game. Two batters later, and with two outs in the inning, Martin singled home Johnston with what proved to be the game-winning hit.

Brooks would eventually work around a Hornet error and a walk in the bottom of the sixth. After Brooks issued a two-out walk in the seventh, catcher Paris Prado threw out Smith, who was attempting to steal second base, to end the game. Prado had just entered the game as a pinch runner in the top of the seventh inning, and remained in the game to catch in the bottom half.

Brooks (13-5) allowed just three hits and two runs while walking four and striking out eight batters over seven innings. She threw 113 pitches, and coupled with yesterday's win against Portland State, struck out 21 Viking batters over 14.0 innings. PSU starter Raya Johnson (0-4) got the loss, allowing five hits and three runs with six walks and four strikeouts in 5.1 innings. The Hornets left 11 runners on base, including multiple runners aboard in the first, second, third, sixth and seventh innings.

Zamari Hinton (2-for-4), Alexa Chattleton (2-for-3) and Clark (2-for-4 with a run) all finished with multiple-hit games. Johnston reached base in three of her four plate appearances, going 1-for-2 with a run scored, two walks and an RBI. Martin was 1-for-2 with a run scored, walk, hit-by-pitch, stolen base and an RBI in an active afternoon for the right fielder.

First baseman Sasha Margulies went 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, and saw her 15-game hitting streak come to an end. That 15-game streak is the fourth longest in Sacramento State's Div. I era (1990-pres.).

Hinton had multiple-hit games in all three games of the series, and finished the series bating .538 (7-for-13) with three runs scored and zero errors in 14 chances at second base.

BIG SKY TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (all times Pacific)

Thursday, May 7
12 p.m. - Idaho State vs. Southern Utah
3 p.m. - Sacramento State vs. Weber State

Friday, May 8
9 a.m. - Winners of Thursday's games
12 p.m. - Losers of Thursday's games
3 p.m. - Winner of 9 a.m. game vs. Winner of 12 p.m. game

Saturday, May 9
12 p.m. - Championship Game
3 p.m. - If necessary