Feb. 16, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. -The Fresno State softball team (8-2) capped its home-opening Fresno State Kick-Off tournament with its fourth and fifth wins of the weekend, thanks to a pair of victories in contrasting fashion.
The `Dogs opened the day with their second win of the season in less than seven innings with a 9-1 decision over CSU Bakersfield (2-9). Immediately after, Fresno State held on for its second extra-inning victory of the year with an eight-inning, 6-5 decision over UC Santa Barbara (2-9).
"I was really pleased with our effort," Fresno State head coach Trisha Ford said. "We had a lot of clutch plays all over the field on offense, defense and in the circle. Our team has great leadership so even in the close games, our players were really calm. I felt our base-running was really key, and continued to manufacture runs and put pressure on the opposition."
In the finale vs. the Gauchos, Fresno State accounted for three runs in the second inning, another run in the sixth and two runs in the eighth and final inning. But it was UCSB who appeared primed to take the contest late after it held one-run leads in the sixth and eighth innings.
After that first instance, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil retied matters, 4-4, with her second homer of the year in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Turlock, Calif., native moved into sole possession of ninth place on the team's all-time career list with her booming solo shot to left field, and now has 18 roundtrippers the last three seasons.
After UCSB again went ahead by a run in the top of the eighth inning, senior third baseman Vonnie Martin immediately answered with an RBI single to left field, then advanced to second base on the throw home. In the ensuing plays, freshman pinch-runner Christina Rodriguez advanced to third base on a ground-out, then scored on an infield grounder by freshman left fielder Kierra Willis.
"It felt great to be able to step in and contribute when the team really needed it," Willis said. "I just tried to relax and look for a good pitch to hit. To go 5-0 at home in front of our fans made it a really fun weekend."
Earlier in the contest, sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith and senior designated player Kapri Angotti opened the Bulldogs' scoring with RBI singles in the second inning, followed by an RBI ground-out by junior center fielder Brenna Moss.
Overall for the game, six Bulldogs hit safely, and Brazil (2-for-3, BB, RBI) enjoyed her third multi-hit game of the season.
Sophomore starter Jill Compton started the game, struck out five, walked one, and allowed six hits and three earned runs.
Earning her first win of the year, sophomore Taylor Langdon (1-0) pitched the rest of the way, and in her five innings, struck out three, walked two, and allowed five hits and one earned run in five innings.
"I told my defense that I didn't quite feel 100 percent," Langdon said, "and I needed to rely extra on them. Softball is a team game, and it was certainly that again tonight. Even when the opposing teams loaded the bases, I was confident we would get out of those jams. We had practiced those situations a lot in practice, and we knew we could handle the pressure."
For UCSB, starter Shelby Wisdom (3-2) pitched a complete game, struck out three, walked two, allowed seven hits, and two of her six runs allowed was earned.
Three Gauchos ended with multiple hits - Kristen Clark (3-for-5), Wisdom (2-for-4) and Lauren Boser (2-for-4).
In the opener vs. CSUB, the `Dog tied their biggest win margin of the year - eight runs - thanks to two runs in the second inning, three runs in both the third and fourth innings, and one in the sixth inning to end the game an inning early.
In the second inning, sophomore catcher Paige Gumz knocked in Fresno State's first run on a sacrifice fly to left field, and Brazil later scored from third base on an error by the shortstop.
In the third inning, Brazil drove in two runs with a double after a pair of hit by pitches, and later scored on a delayed steal of home.
In the fourth, Solomon added a two-run double to center field after singles and stolen bases by junior center fielder Brenna Moss and senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz. Soon after, Martin drove in junior right fielder Michelle Solomon on an RBI single to right field.
The `Dogs ended the game in the sixth inning thanks to another Willis single, this time a bases-loaded drive to deep center field.
Moss (2-for-4) led the `Dogs in hits for the game, and added a second stolen base to raise her season total to seven after ranking second in the MW this past week.
Sophomore Hannah Harris (3-0) pitched the first four innings, struck out one, walked none, and yielded three hits and one earned run.
Langdon got her fourth save of the season (and third of the weekend) for her final two innings, one strikeout, one hit and no runs allowed.
CSUB starter Sydney Raeber struck out one, walked five, allowed six hits, and seven of her nine runs allowed were earned.
Among the three Roadrunners that hit safely, Karsyn Guzman (2-for-3) was the lone player with multiple hits.
Earlier Sunday, the Bulldogs also enjoyed a visit from University President Dr., Joseph I. Castro who threw out the first pitch.
"It was great to have the President here, and his arm and accuracy were impressive," Ford said. "All in all, it was a great day to be a Bulldog, especially in front of a great home crowd. The sign of a good team is one that fights back, and we did that today and tapped great momentum from Bulldog Diamond. These games were real confidence builders, and we'll enjoy this weekend for the moment. However, we have a big weekend coming up so we will come right back ready to practice this week."
In other action Sunday, UC Riverside beat Southern Utah, 5-2, and Sacramento State, 1-0.
Earlier in the tourney, Fresno State defeated Sacramento State (5-1) and UC Riverside (5-0) on Friday and Southern Utah (2-0) on Saturday.
A complete tournament schedule with results is available at the http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/14-kickoff.html URL address.
For the five-game set, Brazil led the Bulldogs in hitting (.462), hits (6), doubles (2), RBI (5), slugging (.846), on-base percentage (.588) and GW RBI (1), and stood second in steals (3) and homers (1).
Other players with impressive offensive weekend stats included Martin (.308, 4 H, HR, 4 RBI, .538 SLG, 4 BB, 1 GW RBI), Solomon (.294, 5H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .706 SLG), Gumz (.333, 3 H, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 GW RBI) and Willis (.250, 3H, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 GW RBI).
The Dogs' three pitchers' stats follow: Langdon (0.66, 1-0, 4App, 3 Saves, 10.2 IP, 6 SO, 5 BB, 9 H, .214 OppBA), Harris (0.75, 2-0, 2 GS, 9.1 IP, 2 SO, 0 BB, 6 H, .176 OppBA) and Compton (1.87, 2-0, 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 15 SO, 4 BB, 16 H, .271 OppBA).
Looking ahead, the `Dogs head to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., on February 21-23, and face No. 22 Arizona on Friday, No. 15 Texas and Virginia on Saturday, and LIU Brooklyn and No. 1 Tennessee on Sunday.
"Catch the Wave!" - Follow Fresno State softball on Twitter at the *NEW* @FresnoStateSB address.
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