SOFTBALL SWEEPS LOYOLA MARYMOUNT, BUT IS ELIMINATED FROM PCSC TITLE CONTENTION
LOS ANGELES -- Led by a pair of home runs from Molly Smith, and a three-run blast from Megan Schaefer, Sacramento State’s offense combined for 13 runs and 25 hits over two games on the way to a sweep of Loyola Marymount in a Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Smith Field.
The Hornets, who recorded at least 12 hits in both games, won the opener, 4-3, before taking the nightcap by a 9-0 score. Sacramento State’s offense combined to hit .397 (25-63) with five doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs and a .619 slugging percentage against Lion pitching.
Although the Hornets (21-31, 11-7) swept the doubleheader, they were eliminated from PCSC Coastal Division title contention after Saint Mary’s (13-3) swept its doubleheader today against Cal State Bakersfield. With just two games remaining in the season for Sacramento State (both games coming tomorrow at Loyola Marymount), the best the Hornets could do it a tie for first place with Saint Mary’s, and the Gaels own the tiebreaker.
The wins, however, assured Sacramento State of finishing with a conference winning percentage of at least .500 for the eighth straight year (every season since the team joined the PCSC in 2003). This comes despite a rebuilding season in which the team was forced to use a starting lineup that consisted of at least six underclassmen in every game.
The losses dropped Loyola Marymount to 22-24 overall and 9-9 in the conference. Dating back to 2003, the Hornets had been 2-10 when playing Loyola Marymount on its home field prior to today’s sweep.
In the first game, despite leaving 13 runners on base and going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, Sacramento State managed to score a tiebreaking run in the top of the seventh inning and hang on for the 4-3 win. After Loyola Marymount scored a pair of runs in the sixth to tie things at 3-3, Smith hit a one-out, home run to provide what would be the game-winning tally. Schaefer (9-7) worked the final 1.2 innings to get the win.
Five different Sacramento State players recorded multiple-hit games, including Erin Jones who went 3-for-4. A sacrifice fly from Jillian Canete and an RBI-single from Emily McCormick in the fifth accounted for the Hornets’ first two runs, and a Lion error allowing Alyssa Nakken to score accounted for the run in the sixth.
LMU’s Melissa Dykema (12-14) got the loss, allowing 13 hits and four runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings. Nakken, Jenice Bartee, McCormick and Marissa Navarro all had a pair of hits for the Hornets. Bartee stole her 13th base of the season in the fifth inning, and is now a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts this year.
In the nightcap, Sacramento State broke open a scoreless tie with two fifth-inning runs before blowing things open with three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh. That was more than enough run support for Hornet starter Shelby Voelz, who tossed her fifth shutout of the season. The sophomore right-hander allowed just four hits while walking one and striking out six. She faced five batters over the minimum, and did not allow a runner past second base. Voelz is now 5-3 with a 1.00 ERA (including four shutouts) against conference competition this season.
The big offensive blows for Sacramento State came via two-run homer from Smith in the fifth inning, a three-run blast from Schaefer in the sixth and a two-run double from McCormick in the seventh. All but two Hornets had hits in the game, including three from McCormick and two each from Canete, Schaefer and Smith.
The Lions’ Molly Medeiros (8-8) got the loss, allowing 10 hits and seven runs in 6.2 innings.
Four different Hornets combined to hit .500 during the doubleheader, including McCormick (5-for-8 with two runs, two doubles and three RBIs), Smith (3-for-5 with two runs, two homers and three RBIs), Jones (4-for-8, two runs and a double) and Navarro (3-for-6 with a run and a double).
Sacramento State and Loyola Marymount both wrap up their seasons tomorrow with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. The Hornets will enter the day having won five of their last seven games.