Big Sky Tournament Central
Big Sky Standings
HILLSBORO, Ore. — Marissa Maligad cranked a three-run homer, and the Hornet pitching duo of Taylor Tessier (4.0 ip) and Danielle Sperry (3.0 ip) helped Sacramento State to a 4-2 road win at Portland State on Saturday afternoon at the Gordon Faber Softball Complex.
The victory allowed the Hornets to win the three-game series as the two teams split a doubleheader yesterday. Today was the final game of the regular season and Sacramento State is now 20-26-1 overall and 10-10 in the Big Sky. Today also marked the 15th consecutive year that Sacramento State has won at least 20 games in a season.
The Hornets will now set their sights on next week's Big Sky Conference Tournament in Ogden, Utah, where the Hornets will be the No. 3 seed at the double-elimination event. The top six teams in the eight-member league qualify for the postseason event, and Weber State is the tournament host after winning the regular season title with a 15-5 conference record. Both Weber State and Montana, respectively, are the top two seeds and will receive a bye in the first round of the tournament.
Sacramento State will open play in the first round on Thursday against No. 6 seed Idaho State at 11 a.m. PDT. The winner of that game will advance to face No. 2 Montana on Thursday at 4 p.m. PDT. The loser of the Sacramento State-Idaho State game will play on Friday at 11 a.m. PDT. Sacramento State has now qualified for the Big Sky Tournament all five years of softball's existence in the conference, and has been no worse than the three seed each of the last four seasons.
For complete tournament information, including brackets and more, click here.
The six seeds for the tournament are as follows: No. 1 Weber State, No. 2 Montana, No. 3 Sacramento State, No. 4 Southern Utah, No. 5 North Dakota and No. 6 Idaho State. Northern Colorado and Portland State (9-36, 7-14) did not qualify for the tournament. The Bengals snuck in as the six seed after winning at Northern Colorado this afternoon.
Sacramento State will enter tournament play as one of the league's hottest teams, having won six of their final seven regular season games. That included a three-game home sweep of Northern Colorado last weekend.
In today's game, Maligad's three-run blast in the fourth inning proved to be the big blow and gave Sacramento State a 3-0 lead. That was more than enough run support for Hornet hurlers Tessier and Sperry. It was Tessier (7-12) who notched her seventh win (and second of the series) after allowing four hits and one run with six strikeouts in four innings. Sperry earned her fifth save after yielding five hits and one unearned run in three innings. Sperry's five saves are one shy of the program single-season record of six, shared by Celina Matthias (2016) and Brittani Clifford (2008).
After both teams were scoreless through the first three innings, the Maligad home run finally got the scoring started in the top of the fourth. Her blast came with two outs on a 2-2 pitch and scored Nikki Gialketsis and Shelby Johnston. The homer was her second of the season, and career.
Portland State, which had at least one hit in each of the first six innings of the game, bounced back with a run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly from Celina Carrisosa. The Hornets took a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning after a Portland State error allowed Johnston to score from second base. Portland State used a sixth-inning Hornet throwing error to slice their deficit to 4-2. The Vikings had three hits in both the fifth and sixth innings, but Hornet pitching allowed just the single run in both frames. The Viking seventh was much less eventful as Sperry set down the side in order.
The Hornets had just six hits, including a 3-for-4 day for Johnston who also scored a pair of runs. Maligad finished 2-for-3 with a run, the big blast and three RBIs, and Zamari Hinton went 1-for-4. Portland State's Alyssa Burk (5-16) got the loss, allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) in seven innings of work. Eight of the nine Portland State starters notched at least one hit in the game, including 2-for-3 from Kornia Krueg.
Sacramento State will now gear up for the Big Sky Tournament, an event the program has never won. The winner of the Big Sky Tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. The Hornets' last appearance at the NCAA Regionals came in 2008.
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