SOFTBALL BEATS MONTANA, 5-3; JOANNE ENGLISH'S #21 JERSEY RETIRED

SOFTBALL BEATS MONTANA, 5-3; JOANNE ENGLISH'S #21 JERSEY RETIRED

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Jessica Ravetti (3-for-3) and Suzy Brookshire (2-for-4) combined for five hits to help lead Sacramento State to a 5-3 victory over Montana in the first of a three-game Big Sky Conference softball series on Saturday afternoon. The two teams will finish the series with a doubleheader tomorrow at noon.

The Hornets and Grizzlies were supposed to play a doubleheader today, but rain forced a late start and just one game. Sacramento State moved its record to 13-18-1 overall and 3-3 in the Big Sky while Montana dropped to 19-10 and 4-3 in the league.

At the conclusion of today's game, former Hornet pitcher Joanne English (1978-81) had her #21 jersey retired. The 1981 National Player of the Year, English was a two-time first team All-American, three-time Golden State Conference Pitcher of the Year and four-time first team all-league selection. She led the Hornets to the 1981 national championship after posting a 7-0 record with a 0.43 ERA during the postseason tournament. She joins Susie Bugliarello (#17) and Lindy Winkler (#3) as the three Hornets to have their number retired.

In the third week of Big Sky play, only two games separate all eight teams in the league standings. Weber State sits in first with a 5-3 conference record and North Dakota is last with a 3-5 record. Every other team, including the Hornets, fall somewhere in between Weber State and North Dakota.

This afternoon, the Hornets erased an early 1-0 deficit by scoring four times in the fourth inning and once more in the sixth to take a 5-1 lead. Sacramento State then had to withstand a furious Montana rally in the seventh that saw the Grizzlies plate two runs and load the bases with two outs before reliever Danielle Sperry finally ended things by striking out Alex Wardlow.

After Montana opened the scoring with a run in the third inning, Sacramento State sent nine batters to the plate and scored four times in the fourth to take a 4-1 lead. During the frame, the Hornets had four hits and took advantage of a Grizzly error, getting RBI-singles from Nene Alas and Shelby Johnston to score the first two runs. Later, a bases loaded walk to Marissa Maligad and a passed ball allowing Alas to score from third gave the Hornets a three-run lead they would not relinquish.

Sacramento State picked up a run of insurance in the sixth inning when Zamari Hinton's two-out bloop single to center field allowed Johnston to score from second base. It was Johnston that began the inning with a five-pitch walk.

In the seventh, Montana took advantage of a Hornet error, an infield single and a walk to load the bases with one out. A wild pitch plating Gabby Martinez and an RBI-single from Sydney Stites cut the Grizzly deficit to 5-3. One batter later, a Hornet mental mistake in the field allowed the Griz to load the bases with just one out, but Sperry got a ground ball (and subsequent force at the plate) and strikeout to finally secure the win.

Celina Matthias (6-5) earned the victory, throwing four-plus innings while allowing five hits and a run with four strikeouts. Sperry notched her fourth save of the season, working the final three innings, yielding four hits and two runs (one earned). Sperry is now just two saves shy of tying the program's single-season record for most saves (6), currently held by Matthias (2016) and Brittani Clifford (2008).

After missing four straight games with injury, Ravetti came back impressively, making solid contact in all three at-bats and finishing 3-for-3 to move her season batting average to .306. In addition, she improved her hitting streak to a career-high eight games.

Six different Hornets had hits today, including the team-high 11th multiple hit game for Brookshire (2-for-4).