SOFTBALLâ€™S UPSET BID FALLS JUST SHORT IN 3-2 LOSS TO #6 NORTHWESTERN
HENDERSON, Nev. -- Sacramento State freshman Brittani Clifford allowed just three runs over six innings, and sophomore Jamie Schloredt had a two-run double, but it was not enough as the Hornets fell to sixth-ranked Northwestern, 3-2, in the second round of the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic late Friday night.
The narrow loss came to a Northwestern team that is not only ranked sixth in the nation, but lost in the national championship game to Arizona last season. Earlier in the day, Northwestern defeated defending Pacific Coast Softball Conference champion Portland State, 11-0. Sacramento State finished one game behind Portland State in last year’s PCSC standings, losing out on an NCAA Regional bid by just the one game.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 3-4 this season and 1-1 at the tournament. The team defeated Seton Hall, 3-0, earlier in the day. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Hornets as they will take on the nation’s top ranked team (Tennessee) tomorrow at 3 p.m. The Hornets will also play Southern Utah tomorrow at 6 p.m., before concluding the tournament Sunday against Cal State Fullerton at 11:30 a.m. Cal State Fullerton is currently receiving votes in the top 25.
With the victory, Northwestern improved to 4-3 overall, and 2-0 at the tournament.
Schloredt’s two-run double came in the fifth inning, and scored both Hilary Johnson and Amy Tompkins to give Sacramento State a 2-1 lead. After Clifford hung another zero on the board in the Northwestern’s bottom half of the fifth inning, the Hornets were just six outs away from pulling off the upset.
However, Northwestern proved too tough as Garland Cooper hit a two-run homer to center field in the bottom of the six to reclaim a 3-2 lead. The Wildcats picked up their first run on a solo homer from Tammy Williams in the fourth inning. The home run for Cooper was the 35th of her career, setting a new Northwestern program record.
Lauren Delaney set down the Hornets in order in the top of the seventh, completing a night in which she allowed just three hits and two unearned runs in seven innings of work. Delaney, who also struck out nine, improved to 3-0 this season.
For Clifford, it was an impressive performance as the freshman held down Northwestern’s potent offense to the tune of just five hits and three runs in six innings. Maybe the most impressive stat was Clifford’s 11 strikeouts with just two walks. That includes striking out at least two Wildcats in each of the game’s first five innings.
Joining Schloredt with hits for Sacramento State were Tompkins and Johnson. Schloredt is now batting .476 (10-for-21) with a team-best six RBIs.