SOFTBALL SPLITS AT PORTLAND STATE, CLINCHES SPOT IN NEXT WEEK’S BIG SKY TOURNAMENT

SOFTBALL SPLITS AT PORTLAND STATE, CLINCHES SPOT IN NEXT WEEK’S BIG SKY TOURNAMENT

Big Sky Conference standings

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Sacramento State split a pair of low scoring games in a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader at Portland State on Friday afternoon. After the Hornets won the first game by a 3-1 score, the Vikings bounced back for a 2-1 victory in the nightcap. These same two teams will play the rubber game of the three-game series tomorrow at noon.

The Hornets had won 10 straight games against Portland State prior to the second game loss.

The victory in the opener allowed the Hornets (19-26-1 overall, 9-10 in league) to clinch a spot in next week's Big Sky Tournament which runs from May 11-13. The double elimination tournament will feature the top six teams in the eight-member league, and the tournament will either be in Missoula, Mont., or Ogden, Utah. Montana and Weber State play tomorrow, and the winner of that game will will in the conference's regular season title and host the postseason tournament.

Depending on tomorrow's outcomes, Sacramento State will either be the No. 3, 4 or 5 seed at the tournament. Should the Hornets win tomorrow and see North Dakota win at home over Southern Utah, Sacramento State will be the 3 seed. A Southern Utah win over North Dakota will lock the Hornets into the 4 seed regardless of tomorrow's outcome against Portland State. Sacramento State would be the 5 seed with a loss tomorrow and a North Dakota win over Southern Utah.

The top two seeds in the tournament receive a first-round bye while the No. 3 seed plays the No. 6, and the No. 4 seed plays the No. 5. Five teams have already clinched a spot including Montana, Weber State, Southern Utah, the Hornets and North Dakota. The No. 6 seed will either be Northern Colorado or Idaho State.

In today's doubleheader, the two teams combined for just seven runs and 18 hits. There were only four extra base hits, and three of those were home runs off the bats of Hornets Suzy Brookshire, Jessica Ravetti and Mo Spieth in the 3-1 first-game victory. Sacramento State pitchers Taylor Tessier and Celina Matthias combined to post a 0.54 ERA, allowing just one earned run with 10 hits and 10 strikeouts in 13.0 innings.

GAME 1

Sacramento State clubbed three home runs and Tessier was impressive in the circle. In fact, Tessier allowed the Vikings just five hits (all singles) and one unearned run in seven innings of work. She struck out seven batters, threw 110 pitches and held Portland State batters to a 1-for-13 clip (.077) with runners on base and 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

The Hornets received solo home runs from Brookshire (3rd inning), Ravetti (4th inning) and Spieth (4th inning). The home runs for Ravetti and Spieth came on back-to-back at-bats to lead off the fourth inning. The threesome of Brookshire (14), Ravetti (9) and Spieth (9) have now combined for 32 home runs this season, and the 14 homers by Brookshire are already a program single-season record.

Portland State had a runner in scoring position in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings, but managed to score just one run. That run came in the sixth when a four-pitch walk followed by back-to-back Hornet errors allowed the Vikings to score, and put runners at second and third with nobody out. However, Tessier escaped the jam without any further damage by striking out three straight batters to end the inning. She retired the side in order in a much less stressful seventh inning.

Meanwhile, Sacramento State had just six hits, but three of those five hits were round trippers. The Hornets had hits from Brookshire, Ravetti, Spieth, Zamari Hinton, Traci Shaw and Marissa Maligad. Hornet catcher Nikki Gialketsis threw out two runners attempting to steal second base.

Tessier improved her record to 6-12 with the win and lowered her season ERA to a team-best 2.92. Alyssa Burk (4-15) got the loss for Portland State, allowing six hits and three runs with no walks and five strikeouts over seven innings. Shae Nelson (2-for-4) had two of the Vikings' five hits.

GAME 2

Sacramento State had just one run and two hits over seven innings against Portland State starter Alyssa Burk, a disappointing performance against a pitcher that entered the game with a 4-14 record and a 5.28 ERA. In fact, both of the Hornets' hits came in the first inning when Brookshire led off the game with a double. She eventually got to third on a deep fly ball from Hinton, and scored from third on Ravetti's sacrifice fly. Mo Spieth would then line a two-out single to right field, and that proved to be the Hornets' final hit of the contest.

Sacramento State would be held hitless and fail to get a runner past second base during the final six innings against Burk. The Hornets got a runner to first on a hit-by-pitch in the second, a runner to second on a walk and sacrifice in the third, a walk in the fourth, and back-to-back one-out walks in the fifth, but could not score. Burk set down the side in order both the sixth and seventh innings.

The Vikings scored both runs with the help of shaky Hornet defense. In the second inning, PSU tied the score at 1-1 after a catchable pop-up with two outs squirted in and out of the glove of second baseman Hinton allowing a run to score. In the third inning, Portland State used a three-base throwing error by Mo Spieth to open the inning. That run would eventually score on a ground ball to second, and proved to be the game-winning run.

Matthias (8-8) was the tough luck losing pitcher, allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) with no walks and three strikeouts over six innings. In reality, zero runs should have scored against Matthias, but the Hornet defense was not up to par, combining for four errors in today's doubleheader. Burk (5-15) got the win, yielding just two hits and one run over seven innings. She walked four and struck out three.