SOFTBALL FALLS TO FRESNO STATE IN FIRST ROUND OF NCAA REGIONALS
FRESNO, Calif. -- Fresno State’s Nos. 2-4 hitters of Jenna Cervantez (3), Caitlin Stiglich (4) and Aja Scheuber (2) combined to drive in nine runs to lead the 12th-ranked Bulldogs to an 11-0 victory over Sacramento State in the first round of the NCAA Softball Regionals Friday evening at Bulldog Diamond.
The game was stopped after five innings because Fresno State had enforced the eight-run mercy rule. It marked just the second time Sacramento State had been mercy ruled this season. The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 against the Hornets in 2008, including a 4-2 victory earlier this year in Fresno.
With the victory, Fresno State (52-11) advances to tomorrow’s second-round game where the Bulldogs will face Cal (41-24) at noon. Cal defeated San Diego State in today’s other game by the score of 4-1. Sacramento State will take on San Diego State tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., and the loser of that game will be eliminated from the tournament. Should Sacramento State defeat San Diego State (43-16), the team would play either Cal or Fresno State at 5 p.m.
The Hornets, who are making their first trip to the NCAA Regionals in 13 years after winning the Pacific Coast Softball Conference championship, dropped to 32-20 with the loss. In addition, Sacramento State had its season-long eight-game winning streak snapped. The program is making its third appearance at the NCAA Tournament (1993, 1995, 2008) since joining the Div. I ranks in 1990.
“Fresno State looked like a team on a mission to win a Regional and make a run at the national championship,” Sacramento State head coach Kathy Strahan said. “We needed to hit the ball to stay in the game, but (Fresno State pitcher) Morgan Melloh held us down pretty good. She looks like an All-American to me.
“Tomorrow, we need to bring our A game to the field in the form of pitching, hitting and defense.”
Fresno State jumped on Sacramento State starter Kayla Meeks from the onset, scoring two runs in the first, once more in the second and five in the third inning. The Bulldogs’ two runs in the first inning came on a two-run homer off the bat of Cervantez. In the second inning, Stiglich singled home Haley Gilleland to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
Fresno State put the game away in the third inning after scoring five runs via two-run triple from Melloh, an RBI-single from Cervantez and a two run single from Scheuber.
Cervantez finished the game 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs and three RBIs, Stiglich went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and Scheuber went 1-for-3 with two RBIs to lead Fresno State’s offensive attack.
Sacramento State pushed just two runners past first base during the game against Melloh, who improved her record this season to 40-7. The freshman left-hander is now second in the nation in victories, and first in the nation in innings pitched (327.2). Melloh finished the game throwing five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight. She did not allow a runner past second base during the entire game, and held down a Sacramento State offense that entered the game with a .315 team batting average.
The Hornets’ Jamie Schloredt (single in the first inning), Izmena Cabrera (double in the fourth) and Rachel Miles (walk in the fifth) accounted for the Hornets’ only three base runners of the game. Meeks (14-9) picked up the loss, throwing the first 2.2 innings, while sophomore Brittani Clifford threw the final inning and a third.