SOFTBALL SWEEPS LOYOLA MARYMOUNT, REMAINS ALIVE IN CONFERENCE HUNT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Senior Izmena Cabrera and freshman Alyssa Nakken each had five hits, and sophomore Megan Schaefer picked up wins in both games to lead Sacramento State to a sweep of Loyola Marymount in a Pacific Coast Softball Conference doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
The Hornets combined for 14 runs and 26 hits today while winning the first game, 9-2, and take the nightcap, 5-4. In fact, the team’s 17 hits in the first game of the doubleheader were a season high.
Today’s doubleheader were must-win games for Sacramento State (23-23, 9-6) and the team was able to come through and stay alive in its quest to win its second straight PCSC championship. The victories allowed Sacramento State to overtake Loyola Marymount (23-27, 9-7) for sole possession of second place in the league standings. However, the Hornets still trail first-place Portland State (12-4) by 2.5 games with five games remaining.
Portland State owns the tiebreaker with Sacramento State, meaning the Hornets will have to win each of their five remaining games and Portland State needs to lose three of four next weekend at Loyola Marymount for the Hornets to win the league title. Portland State was able to take three of four games this weekend at Saint Mary’s to remain in first place. Sacramento State’s last five games include a makeup home date against Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, April 29, and conclude the regular season next weekend with a four-game series on the road against Santa Clara.
The Hornets have now faced four must-win situation games this year, and have been victorious all four times. That included last weekend in the fourth game of the series at Portland State, and the Hornets delivered on winning the final three games of this weekend’s series against Loyola Marymount after losing the first game. The 3-1 series win over Loyola Marymount also marks the first time the Hornets have won a series against the Lions. Sacramento State entered this weekend with a 6-18 all-time record against LMU
Today was Senior Day for Sacramento State’s five seniors as Cabrera, Rachel Miles, Jamie Schloredt, Whitney Loomis and Clark were each honored for their contributions to the program. Each senior contributed to the victories today as Cabrera finished the day 5-for-8 (.625) with two runs, a double, home run and two RBIs, Miles went 4-for-7 (.571) with two runs, two doubles and two RBIs, Schloredt went 3-for-6 (.500), Loomis had hits in both games, and Clark had a pair of sparkling defensive plays at shortstop in the second game.
“Loyola Marymount is a very good team and I was proud of the way we bounced back to win three games,” Sacramento State head coach Kathy Strahan said. “Each of the three victories during the series were must-win situations and the team came through. This will be a big boost and shot of confidence for the team heading into the home stretch of the regular season.”
Schaefer was dominant today as the right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA. She threw all seven innings to pick up the complete-game victory in the first game, and tossed 4.2 innings of shutout relief in the second game. The Tigard, Ore., native tossed a combined 11.2 innings, allowing just eight hits (one extra base hit) while walking two and striking out four. Loyola Marymount batters combined to hit just .178 off Schaefer.
In the first game, Sacramento State erased an early 2-0 deficit by scoring two in the fourth, five more in the sixth and two in the seventh to break open what had been a close game through five innings. Miles, Schloredt, Cabrera and Nakken each finished with three hits. Nakken’s two-run homer in the fourth inning tied the game at 2-2, and jump started the Hornet offense. Cabrera’s home run to lead off the sixth inning proved to be the game-winning hit as the Hornets would add four more in the inning.
Five different Hornets had RBIs, including Nakken and freshman Alicia Noriega, who both finished with a pair. Miles, Jenice Bartee and Cabrera also had RBIs. Schaefer allowed just six hits and two runs over seven innings, as her only blemish was allowing a two-run homer by Sam Fischer in the third inning.
In the second game, the Hornets overcame another deficit (4-3 in the third inning) to win. Bartee, Cabrera and Nakken each had a pair of hits, and Schaefer was dominant in relief of Hornet starter Shelby Voelz. Trailing, 4-3, the Hornets got one back in the fourth inning on an RBI-double from Bartee which scored Loomis. Sacramento State took the lead for good in the sixth after Miles’ double drove home Noriega, who had just tripled one batter earlier.
Schaefer’s work in the third inning may have been the crucial point of the game as she entered with the bases loaded and one out. Loyola Marymount had already scored four runs, and Schaefer was able to retire both batters she faced in the inning to keep the Hornets within striking distance at 4-3.
Sacramento State’s makeup game against Saint Mary’s on Wednesday will begin at 3:30 p.m. The two teams played a tripleheader earlier this season with the Hornets winning two of three.