SOFTBALL DROPS A PAIR AT NORTHERN COLORADO TO OPEN BIG SKY PLAY

SOFTBALL DROPS A PAIR AT NORTHERN COLORADO TO OPEN BIG SKY PLAY

GREELEY, Colo. - Sacramento State's offense combined for 12 runs over two games, but it was not enough as Northern Colorado swept a doubleheader from the Hornets to open Big Sky Conference play for both teams. The Bears won the first game in mercy rule fashion, 12-4, in six innings, before taking the nightcap, 9-8.

In both games, Northern Colorado recorded huge innings, including a six-run sixth inning in the opener, an an eight-run fourth inning in the second game. Sacramento State pitching allowed 24 hits and 21 runs (19 earned) over 11.1 innings, a rarity for a staff that entered day with a Big Sky-leading 2.77 team ERA. In addition, prior to today, Sacramento State had won five straight, and 10 of its last 11 games.

The Hornets dropped to 14-10 overall and 0-2 in league, losing their first two games of the conference season for the first time since the Big Sky began sponsoring softball in 2013. Northern Colorado improved its winning streak to four games, and now sits at 20-15 overall and 2-0 in league. The two teams conclude their three-game series tomorrow at noon PDT.

Three Hornets had big days offensively, including Nene Alas who was 3-for-5 with three walks, four runs scored, a stolen base and a .750 on-base percentage. Zamari Hinton went 4-for-7 with three runs scored, and Suzy Brookshire was 2-for-5 with four RBIs. All three players, who make up the first three batters in Sacramento State's lineup, hit safely in both games and improved their already lengthy hitting streaks. Brookshire's hitting streak now stands at a carer-high 13 games, Hinton has hit safely in 12 consecutive games, and Alas has a career-best seven-game hitting streak.

Alas, Hinton and Brookshire combined to go 9-for-17 during the doubleheader while the rest of the Sacramento State lineup went 5-for-36 over the two games. Alas is the leadoff hitter, Hinton bats second, and Brookshire hits third.

GAME 1

Northern Colorado put up crooked numbers in the first (2), second (2), fourth (2) and sixth (6) innings. Trailing, 4-1, the Hornets tied things with three runs in the top of the third on a two-run double from Brookshire and an RBI-single from Mo Spieth.

However, Northern Colorado would score eight unanswered runs to put things away. That included six runs in the sixth inning which allowed the Bears to win in mercy rule fashion. It marked just the second time Sacramento State has lost in mercy rule fashion this season.

Hornet right-hander Celina Matthias, who had been the Big Sky leader with a 1.62 ERA, was touched up for eight runs and 12 hits in 5.1 innings. Matthias (8-4) had allowed no earned runs in seven of her previous 11 outings prior to today. Valerie Vidal (13-5) got the victory for Northern Colorado, allowing six hits and four runs over six innings.

Alas reached base safely in all four plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and a stolen base. Hinton was 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Brookshire was 1-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs. The threesome went 5-for-7 while the rest of the lineup was 1-for-16.

GAME 2

Sacramento State put forth a spirited comeback that fell just short. Northern Colorado took an 8-2 lead into the sixth inning, but the Hornets scored four times in the sixth and twice more in the seventh to get within, 9-8. In that seventh inning, with two runs already on the board and Sacramento State trailing, 9-8, the Hornets had the potential tying run (on second base) and winning run (first base) aboard with two outs. However, Bears reliever Lauren Paige got Sydnee Strong to ground out to shortstop and end the game. It was Strong that had a huge three-run double in the top of the sixth inning that got the Hornets within, 8-6, of Northern Colorado's lead.

The Hornets scored the first two runs in the top of the first when Brookshire's groundout scored Alas from third base and Sydney Rasmussen's RBI-single scored Hinton. However, in the bottom of the fourth, Northern Colorado sent 13 batters to the plate, and scored eight times on six hits off of three Hornet pitchers. At one point, the Bears saw eight straight batters reach base safely.

Trailing, 8-2, Sacramento State scored four times in the sixth inning on an Alexxiss Diaz RBI-ground ball and Strong's three-run double. Northern Colorado would score what proved to be a huge run in the bottom of the sixth to extend its lead to 9-6.

In the seventh, Alas and Hinton led off with base hits, and both would eventually score - Alas on a wild pitch and Hinton on Brookshire's sacrifice fly. With two outs and no one aboard, Rasmussen doubled down the line and Diaz was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with two outs. However, the Hornets would not score again.

Chandler Elsner (3-1) got the win while Paige picked up her second save of the season. For Sacramento State, Savanna Corr (3-5) took the loss. Corr worked the first 3.1 innings of the game.

Hinton, Rasmussen and Strong were each 2-for-4, and were the lone Hornets with multiple-hit games.