SOFTBALL COMPLETES MONSTER WEEKEND WITH TWO MORE WINS, CROWNED FRESNO STATE KICKOFF CHAMPIONS
Members of the team pose before boarding the bus after winning the Fresno State Kickoff tournament championship
FRESNO, Calif. -- Sacramento State defeated both North Dakota State (1-0) and UC Riverside (9-4) on the final day of the Fresno State Softball Kickoff Sunday at Bulldog Diamond. With the victories, the Hornets have won four straight and conclude the three-day, five-game event as the tournament champions after posting a 4-1 record.
Sacramento State right-handers Caitlin Brooks (4.2 ip) and Taylor Stroud (2.1 ip) combined on a four-hit shutout in the morning victory over North Dakota State, and freshman third baseman Riley Price hit a grand slam to lead the team in the afternoon victory against UC Riverside.
After losing the first game of the tournament to Long Beach State (4-2), the Hornets ran off four straight wins, comprised of victories against UC Riverside (2-0) on Friday, host Fresno State (2-1 in 9 innings) on Saturday, and today’s outcomes.
Pitching was the story for Sacramento State during the majority of the tournament as the Hornet staff combined for a 1.75 ERA over the five games. That included a dominant performance by Stroud who factored in all four Hornet wins, going 3-0 with a save and a 0.37 ERA. In 19.0 innings, she allowed just 13 hits (.194 opponent batting average) and one run, and only two of those 13 hits went for extra bases (both doubles). Brooks, who is a true freshman, also shined with a 1-1 record and a 1.45 ERA.
Offensively, sophomore Devin Caldwell (.400), senior Marissa Navarro (.375) and junior Emily McCormick (.364) each hit better than .300 during the tournament. Navarro hit safely in all five games of the tournament.
Defensively, the Hornets went the entire tournament without committing an error. The team was flawless in 155 chances in the field (108 putouts, 47 assists).
In today’s victory against North Dakota State, Brooks and Stroud combined to face just six batters over the minimum. Brooks worked the first 4.2 innings, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out four. Stroud retired all seven batters she faced in relief to notch her first career save. Both teams combined for just six hits, and the only run of the game was scored in the first inning when Navarro laced a two-out double down the left field line that scored McCormick all the way from first base. The Hornets’ only two hits of the game came in the first inning, as the team was held hitless the final five innings by North Dakota State starter Krista Menke (0-1).
Brooks allowed just one runner past second base during her stint, and that runner was stranded at third base in the fifth inning after Stroud came on in relief to retire Amanda Grable. Brooks (1-1) picked up her first career win.
After failing to score more than two runs in any of the first four games of the tournament, Sacramento State’s bats came alive against UC Riverside, recording season highs in both runs (9) and hits (10). The Hornets scored once in the first inning, five times in the third and three times in the fourth. The highlight of the scoring came off the bat of Price. In just her seventh career at-bat, the true freshman pounced on a 2-1 pitch for a grand slam which sailed over the left field wall, scoring Alyssa Nakken, Paige Martin and Navarro. By the time the ball cleared the left field wall, the Hornets had a sizeable 6-0 lead.
UC Riverside kept things interesting by scoring a pair of runs in both the third and fourth innings off Hornet starter Shelby Voelz, but Stroud, once again, slammed the door by working the final 3.2 innings to secure her third win of the season. That included working out a bases loaded, no-out situation the fifth.
Shannon Kaufman (2-for-4), Navarro (2-for-4, two runs) and Martin (2-for-4, two runs) each had multiple-hit games for the Hornets while Sade Estes scored a pair of runs, and Price led all players with four RBIs.
Sacramento State will now take nine days off before returning to action on Feb. 22 for a single game at San Jose State. The Hornets will then compete in the three-day, four-game PCSC Crossover Tournament in Moraga from Feb. 24-26.