Thursday, May 11, 2017

SJSU reduces magic number to 1; top pitching outings go to waste

San Jose State reduced its magic number to winning the 2017 Mountain West softball title to one Thursday, and a pair of strong pitching outings resulted in losses for Fresno State and UNLV.

The Spartans were held to one hit -- a single -- in their game against UNLV pitcher Morgan Ettinger, but managed to win anyway.  San Jose State prevailed 1-0 in a game where it was out-hit 7 to 1.  Ettinger didn't allow a hit until one out in the sixth.

In that fateful sixth inning, Cassidy Clark singled after Ettinger issued a pair of walks, and SJSU's only hit of the contest resulted in the game's lone run.  Spartans pitcher Katelyn Linford gave up seven hits but earned the shutout.  With the victory, San Jose State moved to 16-6 in conference play, two games ahead of San Diego State.

One more SJSU win or one SDSU loss over the next two days will give the Mountain West's automatic NCAA bid to the Spartans.

San Diego State edged Nevada 11-9 in a slugfest where a key, 2-out error in the top of the seventh gave the Aztecs two runs on the play.  They proved to be the difference.

Another strong pitching outing from Fresno State sophomore Kamalani Dung went to waste, as the Bulldogs were eliminated from MW title consideration.  Dung, who's won league Pitcher of the Week honors each of the last two weeks, matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts and tossed a complete-game 4-hitter but it wasn't enough.

The Bulldogs suffered a 5-3 setback at Colorado State.  Bridgette Hutton gave up six hits, and Fresno State was unable to take advantage of six walks.  Sophomore Dominique Jackson had a 2-run, 2-out, pinch-hit double.

Elsewhere, Boise State cruised to an 8-0 win in Albuquerque over a New Mexico Lobos team that has now lost nine straight games, the longest losing streak by a MW team this season.

Sources also told the Mountain West Softball Blog Thursday that Fresno State is not expected to be named one of eight regional hosts in the 48-team National Invitational Softball Championship, which debuts this season.  Softball's version of the NIT will have its field released Sunday after the announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.  With an RPI of 47 entering the week and home attendance that ranks in the top 15 in the country, Fresno State was considered a prime candidate to be named an NISC regional host if the Bulldogs do not earn an NCAA at-large bid.