SOFTBALL BEATS COLORADO STATE, LOSES HEARTBREAKER TO LONG BEACH STATE
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sacramento State’s offense combined for 11 runs and 21 hits over two games, but it was not enough to pull out two victories in the second day of the National Invitational Softball Tournament Saturday afternoon at PAL Field. The Hornets opened the day by defeating Colorado State, 7-2, before Long Beach State scored three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Hornets, 5-4.
Sacramento State played the entire day without its pitching ace Megan Schaefer (flu), first baseman Alyssa Nakken (injury) and the team’s starting shortstop Desiree Beltran could not play in the field because of an injury. The Beltran injury would loom large as two costly errors at the shortstop position where Beltran would usually play contributed to Long Beach State’s victory.
With the split, Sacramento State improved to 1-3 at the three-day, five-game tournament, which is being hosted by San Jose State. The Hornets are now 8-15 overall this season, and conclude tournament play tomorrow morning against Vermont at 9:15 a.m. Sacramento State lost to both UC Davis and UNLV in the first and second rounds of the tournament yesterday.
Colorado State dropped to 13-10 with the loss, and Long Beach State, which is currently receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA top 25 poll, improved to 18-10.
In the victory over Colorado State, all but one Sacramento State starter collected at least one hit as the team banged out 10 hits and seven runs against a pair of Ram pitchers. After Colorado State opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first, the Hornets took the lead for good with two runs in the second on an RBI-single from senior Whitney Loomis and an RBI-triple off the bat of senior Rachel Miles. The Hornets added one more in the third when senior Sherry Clark, who was making her first career start at shortstop, drove home senior Jamie Schloredt with a sacrifice fly.
A home run from Colorado State’s Ashley Munoz to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning not only sliced the Hornets’ lead to 3-2, but also drove Sacramento State starter Brittani Clifford out of the game. Clifford was replaced by freshman right-hander Shelby Voelz, who retired eight straight batters and 12 of the 13 she faced during the final four innings to pick up her second win of the season.
Sacramento State increased its lead to 5-2 in the fifth after Schloredt hit a two-run homer over the left field wall that scored Izmena Cabrera. The home run for Schloredt was her team-high fourth of the season and snapped an 18-game homerless drought, one of the longest stretches of her career without hitting a home run. The Hornets added two more insurance runs in the seventh on a two-run single from Clark.
Voelz picked up her second win in relief this season, allowing just one hit while walking none and striking out two over 4.0 innings. Clifford worked the first three-plus innings, allowing two runs and four hits. Colorado State’s Dani Chaplin (4-3) got the loss, allowing four hits, three walks and two runs over 2.0 innings.
Both Schloredt (2-for-3) and Cabrera (2-for-3) had multiple-hit games for the Hornets while Clark led all players with three RBIs, one shy of her career high.
In the Hornets’ second game of the day, Long Beach State erased a 2-0 fifth inning deficit, and then erased a 4-2 eighth inning deficit before finally overtaking Sacramento State, 5-4. The Hornets, who left 12 runners on base, opened the game’s scoring with two runs in the top of the fifth on a solo home run from Beltran and a sacrifice fly from freshman Marissa Navarro.
The 49ers took advantage of a Hornet error in the bottom of the fifth to get one of those runs back. With two outs and a runner at second base, Clark committed an error at shortstop allowing the run to score. With Beltran and backup middle infielder Keri Elias unable to play defensively at shortstop because of injuries, Clark was pressed into duty at shortstop despite never playing the position in her Hornet career until today. In addition, Clark is still not 100 percent recovered from a knee injury that ended her season last year.
Long Beach State scored one more time in the seventh on a one-out, RBI-double from Jennifer Griffin to tie the game. In the top of the eighth, the Hornets manufactured both runs as the team pulled off a double steal with Jenice Bartee swiping second and pinch runner Jacquelyn Serrano stealing home. Later in the inning, Loomis laid down a perfect bunt that not only allowed Bartee to score from third, but Loomis reached base safely for a single.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect beginning in the eighth for both teams (a runner is placed at second to begin the inning), Long Beach State was quickly able to score off Hornet reliever Voelz when Ashley Levine singled home pinch runner Megan Denio. However, during the play, Levine was thrown out at second base on an 8-4-2-6 putout to get the first out of the inning. Another error from Clark then allowed Brandy Reyes to reach first base safely, followed by an RBI-triple from Brianna Goad and an RBI-single from Bridgette Pagano ending the game.
Voelz (2-5) got the loss in relief, allowing six hits and five runs (only two earned) in 4.0 innings. Clifford worked the first 3.1 innings, allowing no runs and three hits. Long Beach State’s Kelly Cross (1-1) got the victory, allowing three hits and two unearned runs over the final 4.0 innings.
Both Cabrera and Schloredt appear to have shed their early season rust as the powerful duo combined for nine hits and five runs during the doubleheader as each had multiple-hit games in both contests. That included Cabrera going 5-for-7 with a walk, and Schloredt going 4-for-7 with two runs, a double, a home run and two RBIs. Cabrera has hit safely in six straight games and raised her batting average to a season-best .333.