SOFTBALL SWEEPS CSU BAKERSFIELD, COACH STRAHAN EARNS 799TH CAREER VICTORY
Taylor Stroud (left) and Alyssa Nakken (right) helped the Hornets to a doubleheader sweep of CSU Bakersfield
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Senior Alyssa Nakken became the sixth player in school history to homer twice in a game, and right-hander Taylor Stroud earned two wins to help Sacramento State sweep a Pacific Coast Softball Conference doubleheader over CSU Bakersfield on Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The Hornets won the first game, 7-1, before taking the nightcap by a 12-4 score.
With the victories, Sacramento State improved to 25-17 overall and 8-7 in the PCSC. However, the Hornets, which assured themselves of an overall record above the .500 mark, were eliminated from conference title contention. With just five games remaining on the league schedule, Saint Mary’s sits in first place in the PCSC’s Coastal Division with an 11-4 league record, followed by San Diego (11-5), Loyola Marymount (10-6) and Sacramento State (8-7) to round out the top four spots.
Even if the Hornets sweep all four games next weekend at San Diego, and win their makeup game at Saint Mary’s, the team would still lose the potential tiebreaker against either Saint Mary’s or Loyola Marymount.
Still, Sacramento State has a lot to play for, as head coach Kathy Strahan now has 799 career wins. In her 29th season as a collegiate head coach (and 20th at Sacramento State), Strahan is trying to become the 52nd softball head coach in NCAA history (for all divisions) to achieve the 800-win milestone. She currently has a 799-756-3 record, having coached two years at Cal State Dominguez Hills (1984-85) and seven years at San Jose State (1986-1992) before beginning her Sacramento State tenure in 1993. She will have the opportunity to achieve that 800-win milestone next weekend in San Diego.
Today’s games marked the final home contests of the season as Sacramento State will finish 11-2 inside the friendly confines. The Hornets took three of four games from Bakersfield (11-37, 4-12) this weekend, and the team’s only other home loss came against UC Santa Barbara on March 26.
Per conference rules, Sacramento State was the designated road team in both contests despite the games being played on the Hornets’ home field.
Sacramento State broke open what had been a close game with five runs in the top of the seventh inning, and rode the arm of Stroud to victory. The Hornets had 12 hits, including two each from Kelli Frye, Marissa Navarro, Devin Caldwell and Kaitlyn Taylor. One of Navarro’s hits was her team-high tying seventh home run of the season, a solo shot which was the first run of the five-run seventh frame.
CSU Bakersfield scored the first run of the game in the first inning before the Hornets scored seven unanswered runs, including an RBI-double from Navarro in the third inning and an RBI-single from Nakken in the fourth. The five-run seventh was highlighted by true freshman Riley Price’s pinch-hit three-run homer which sailed well beyond the left field wall. Frye would later drive in Shannon Kaufman with the final run of the inning.
The seven runs were more than enough for Stroud who scattered 10 hits, allowing just one run while walking none and striking out two batters. The sophomore threw 120 pitches and stranded nine Bakersfield runners on base. The home run for Price was her second of the year, and she now has 10 RBIs in just 47 at-bats this season.
Roadrunner starter Taylor DeSilva (3-7) earned the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) and 12 hits over 6.1 innings.
Similar to the opener, the Hornets broke open what had been a close game with late runs in the nightcap. This time, the Hornets snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the sixth inning, and six more in the seventh. In that seventh inning, Sacramento State sent 11 batters to the plate while ripping off six runs on five hits. Stroud would pick up her second win of the day, allowing just two hits and no runs in 2.1 innings of relief.
Nakken led off the game with an opposite-field home run and Caldwell later followed with an RBI-single to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Nakken would strike again in the fourth, crushing a two-run bomb that sailed at least 50 feet over the left-center field fence.
What looked like a comfortable 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning quickly turned into a 4-4 tie. After Hornet starter Shelby Voelz retired the first two batters of the inning, the Roadrunners strung together five straight hits, capped by an RBI-double from Adrianna Cardoza to tie the score at 4-4. That tie score, however, was short lived as the Hornets put together a two-out rally of their own in the top of the sixth. Nakken, who narrowly missed her third home run of the game after crushing a ball foul over the left-field wall, was hit by a pitch. Frye followed with an RBI-triple, and McCormick an RBI-single to give the Hornets a 6-4 lead.
Sacramento State broke open the game with the six-run seventh inning, which was highlighted by RBI-singles from Jessica Abelia, Kaufman and Frye, a sacrifice fly from McCormick and a two-run single from Navarro. The Hornets had 13 hits in the game, including two each from the Hornets’ top five hitters in the lineup (Nakken, Frye, McCormick, Navarro and Caldwell). Nakken had three RBIs while Frye, McCormick and Navarro each had two RBIs.
Stroud (13-7) won her 13th game of the season, and finished the day by combining to throw 167 pitches, including 47 in the relief appearance. Voelz worked the first 4.2 innings before being replaced by Stroud with two outs in the fifth inning. Marissa Hiller (3-11) got the loss for Bakersfield, allowing 11 hits and 11 runs (nine earned) in six innings.
NOTES -- Freshman right-hander Caitlin Brooks was unavailable this weekend after suffering a back injury in Friday’s practice…McCormick now has a six-game hitting streak, matching a career high…Stroud needs just two wins to crack to program’s top 10 for most victories in a single season during the Div. I era (1990-pres.)…Sacramento State seniors Abelia, Navarro, Voelz and Nakken, and junior Kelly Shepard were honored prior to the game for their contributions to the program.