Saturday, May 3, 2014

New stadium name, same result: Bulldogs win!

Fresno State re-named its softball stadium Saturday in a pregame ceremony honoring its legendary former head coach, Margie Wright.  And then the Bulldogs went out and played the type of game that happened a lot under her tutelage.

Using stellar pitching, the league's top defense, and some clutch hitting and monster at-bats, Fresno State defeated Colorado State 7-2 to win the series against the Rams and move a game closer to the Mountain West championship and the automatic NCAA berth that goes along with it.

Elsewhere, Boise State remained on the Bulldogs' tail, getting a walk-off win in the eighth inning over New Mexico after the Lobos came up with a 3-run seventh inning to tie it.  San Jose State stayed in the hunt with a shutout win over San Diego State, which fell two games off the pace.  And Nevada won for the second day in a row at faltering Utah State, which has lost 14 of its last 17.

Fresno State 7, Colorado State 2 - Stesha Brazil hit home runs in her first two at-bats of the day, and Michelle Solomon delivered the knockout blow with a 2-out grand slam off of Holly Reinke in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Bulldogs won their sixth consecutive Mountain West series.  Hannah Harris picked up the win, going the first five innings and allowing four hits. Jill Compton entered in the sixth with a 3-2 lead and earned the save.  Fresno State had 10 hits and took a 1-0 lead on Brazil's solo homer in the second.  It would be the first Bulldog home run in the newly re-named Margie Wright Diamond, with the legend in attendance as part of the 1,351 on hand.  CSU took a 2-1 lead in the third when Shae Rodriguez hit a 2-run shot to right, scoring Haley Hutton.  Brazil's second home run of the day came in the fourth when the Bulldogs tied it 2-2.  A 2-out RBI single by freshman Kierra Willis in the same frame gave Fresno State a lead it wouldn't relinquish.  After Compton struck out Danielle Wikre with the bases loaded to escape a sixth inning jam, Reinke wasn't as fortunate in the bottom half of the inning.  After Paige Gumz, Brenna Moss and Brooke Ortiz all singled, Solomon stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in a 1-run game.  On a full count pitch, she launched a deep blast to left over the fence and the outfield berm behind it for her first grand slam of the season.  Moss, Brazil and junior Kelly Megee all finished with a pair of hits for the Bulldogs.  Colorado State, which entered the weekend as the Mountain West's top hitting team this season, has been limited to eight combined hits in the first two games of the series.  Fresno State maintained its hold on first place with the victory, and now knows a 4-0 finish to the year will result in a conference championship and automatic NCAA berth.

San Jose State 5, San Diego State 0 - Allison Lang held the Aztecs to five hits in a shutout win that kept the Spartans' slim title hopes alive.  Casey Watt hit a 2-run home run off of Danielle O'Toole, who started her second straight in the series, and San Diego State is now 7-7 in its last 14 conference games.  Devin Caldwell and Alyssa Martinez both hit doubles as part of the Spartans' 9-hit attack against O'Toole.  Sharon-Renae Estrada and Jessica Garcia had two hits each for SJSU, while Patrice Jackson had two of the Aztecs' four hits.  Despite the win, San Jose State moved to the brink of elimination in the Mountain West race Saturday because of Fresno State's win over Colorado State.  The Bulldogs are three games ahead of the Spartans with four to play, and Fresno State holds the tiebreaker if the two should tie.  Meanwhile, San Diego State likely now must win a minimum of three of its final four conference games in order to have a shot at an NCAA bid.  SDSU has been to six straight NCAA tourneys, but is two games back of the Bulldogs, who also hold the tiebreaker over the Aztecs.  San Diego State's best path to an NCAA berth may be by winning next weekend's series at home in San Diego versus Boise State, and trying to secure an at-large NCAA berth.  SDSU was 45th in the RPI entering the week and in bubble territory.

Boise State 7, New Mexico 5 (8 innings) - Despite being out-hit 11 to six and giving up three runs in the seventh, the Broncos rallied to win it in extra innings.  Brittany McCray hit a 2-run homer off of Lobos pitcher Carrie Sheehan for the walk-off victory in eight innings.  New Mexico trailed 5-2 entering the seventh but scored three runs -- all earned -- against Rebecca Patton.  Hailey Torrez hit a grand slam in the second as Boise State moved in front comfortably.  She and Jordan Kreiger were the lone Broncos players with multi-hit games versus New Mexico, which entered with a team ERA approaching 10.00 in conference play.  The Lobos had four players with double-digit hit totals.

Nevada 5, Utah State 3 - The Wolf Pack won their second series of the season with a victory for a second day in a row against the Aggies in Logan.  Utah State's late-season slump continued with a loss for the 18th time in it last 23 games.  McKenna Isenberg beat Abby Indreland in a battle between freshman pitchers.  The Pack had nine hits while the Aggies had eight.  Erin Jones had two hits to lead a balanced Nevada attack.