Feb. 23, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team (10-5) re-confirmed its place among the West Coast's most exciting teams with a busy final day of action Sunday in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
In its first game Sunday, it handled LIU Brooklyn (4-10) by a 6-2 count, then pushed No. 2 Tennessee (13-0) to the brink before the Volunteers battled back for a 5-4 win.
In the evening finale vs. the returning NCAA runners-up, the `Dogs jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the top of the third inning, but UT fought back with single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings to stake its third one-run win of the year.
Senior third baseman Vonnie Martin knocked in the `Dogs' first run via a first-inning RBI single to left field that scored junior center field Brenna Moss who led off with a single and stole her team-leading eighth base of the season.
In the third inning, Martin drilled her second homer of the year - a solo shot to center field - to make it 4-1.
The table was set for even more Fresno State runs in the fourth inning after three straight walks loaded the bases with one out. However, Moss was tagged out at home trying to score on a pitch that skipped in the dirt, and Martin struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch.
The `Dogs suffered similar bad luck in the fifth inning with the bases loaded after a walk to senior first baseman Stesha Brazil, and singles by freshman left fielder Kierra Willis and sophomore catcher Paige Gumz. The next two batters grounded out on fielder's choices that resulted in outs at home, and a third infield grounder ended the inning.
In the seventh inning, Gumz nearly connected on a two-run go-ahead homer, but the center fielder bobbled, then caught the ball while falling back on the breakaway fence in left center field. After getting up, she threw the ball back in for a double play on Willis - who had taken off from first base and was called out for not re-touching second base on her retreat back.
Overall for the game, Moss (2-for-3, RBI, BB) was one of three `Dogs with multiple hits with Martin (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Willis (2-for-3, BB).
The Vols also flexed an equally high-octane offense was anchored by All-America shortstop Madison Shipley who hit first-pitch solo homers in the first and third innings, and drew an RBI walk in the fourth, and an intentional base on balls in the sixth inning.
In the fifth inning, a Bulldog 5-4-3 double play was soured by a subsequent walk and hit-and-run RBI double by Taylor Koening.
In the seventh, the `Dogs continued to suffer bad luck, this time on the defensive front. The first Tennessee batter Cheyanne Tarango hit a shallow pop-up behind second base that Smith caught on the run, but then dropped seconds later after a collision with the shortstop.
After a wild pitch, the right fielder allowed another potential Volunteer out to fall safely on a misplayed high fly. A would-be third out was also misplayed on a booted grounder by the third baseman and allowed the tie-breaking run to score.
Fresno State used three pitchers against its third top-25 foe of the weekend, and sophomore Taylor Langdon pitched the opening three innings. The Glendora, Calif., native struck out one, walked one, gave up four hits, and two earned runs in her first start and ninth appearance of the year.
Sophomore Hannah Harris worked the next two innings, struck out one, walked four, and was credited for two earned runs allowed.
Redshirt sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge (0-2) pitched the sixth and seven inning s, and struck out none, walked two, and yielded three hits and one unearned run.
Among the four pitchers used by Tennessee, the win went to All-American Ellen Renfroe (7-0) who pitched the final three innings, struck out one, walked none, and gave up three hits and no runs
Among the 16 players that saw action overall for UT, three hitters besides Shipman also had two hits - Annie Aldrete (2-for-4), Cheyanne Tarango (2-for-4) and Taylor Koenig (2-for-3).
In the 6-2 morning opener vs. returning Northeast Conference Tournament runner-up LIU Brooklyn, the `Dogs scored three runs in both the fourth and seventh innings, while the Blackbirds plated one run each in the fourth and fifth innings.
In the fourth inning, the senior first baseman Brazil cracked her fourth homer of the year and 20th of her career deep over the left field wall for her second game-winning RBI of the year.
The Turlock, Calif., native still ranks eighth all-time for the `Dogs with her second homer in as many days (and third the last five games), and drove in sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith and senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz who had singled prior.
In the seventh inning, Fresno State added a pair of runs on a two-out, two-run single by senior third baseman Vonnie Martin to right field after a pinch-hit double by junior Taylor Green and singles by junior center fielder Brenna Moss and senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz. The `Dogs' final run came the next at-bat as the shortstop booted a hard hit grounder from Brazil to score Ortiz.
For the game, Ortiz (2-for-4) logged her second straight multi-hit game and fourth of the season, while Martin (2-for-3, 2 RBI) claimed her second.
Smith was one of four Bulldogs who hit safely once, and she also boosted the defense with a diving catch behind second base to end the first inning with two runners on.
Bulldog starter and sophomore right-hander Jill Compton (6-3) struck out five, walked five, allowed four hits, and neither of her two runs allowed were earned.
LIU Brooklyn starter Shelley Procter (4-5) pitched the opening 3.1 innings, struck out one, walked two, and allowed three hits. Two batters after she gave up Brazil's homer, she was relieved by Cassie Vondrak who worked the final 3.2 innings, struck out two, walked one, and allowed five hits, and two of her three runs allowed were earned.
Four Blackbird batters hit safely once - Lauren Morizi, Whitney West, Ariana Lopez and Madison Green.
LIU Brooklyn's first run came after a fourth-inning walk, infield error on a dropped pop fly and RBI single by Green to third base.
In the fifth, LIU's last run came on a single, dropped outfield fly ball, bloop single along the left field line, and sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Blackbirds didn't go down without a fight and brought the tying run to the plate after two walks and an infield error. However, Compton got a bases-loaded pop-out to shortstop to cinch her fifth complete game of the year.
Looking ahead, the `Dogs will travel to the San Diego Tournament next Friday-Sunday, February 28-March 1 for games vs. UIC, BYU, No. 2 Tennessee, Ole Miss and San Diego.
Game 1 - Fresno State 6, LIU Brooklyn 2 (Feb 23, 2014 at Cathedral City,Calif)
-------------------------------------------------------- Fresno State........ 000 300 3 - 6 8 3 (10-4) LIU Brooklyn........ 000 110 0 - 2 4 2 (4-10) --------------------------------------------------------Pitchers: Fresno State - Compton, Jill and Gumz, Paige. LIU Brooklyn - PROCTER; VONDRAK(4) and TOVEN. Win-COMPTON, Jill(6-3) Loss-PROCTER(4-5) T-1:48 A-400. HR FS - Brazil, Stesha (4). Weather: 73, sunny, wind 0-3mph.
Game 2 - #2 Tennessee 5, Fresno State 4 (Feb 23, 2014 at Cathedral City, Calif)
----------------------------------------------------- Fresno State........ 121 000 0 - 4 9 1 (10-5) #2 Tennessee........ 101 110 1 - 5 10 0 (13-0) -----------------------------------------------------
Pitchers: Fresno State - Langdon, Taylor; HARRIS, Hannah(4); ALDRIDGE, Kiley Shae(6) and Gumz, Paige. Tennessee - Cheyanne Tarango; Erin Gabriel(2); Rainey Gaffin(4); Ellen Renfroe(5) and Annie Aldrete; Hannah Akamine. Win-Ellen Renfroe(7-0) Loss-ALDRIDGE, Kiley Shae(0-1) T-2:44 A-500. HR FS - Martin, Vonnie. HR UT - Madison Shipman 2. Weather: Clear. R. Gaffin faced 1 batter in the 5th. ALDRIDGE, K. faced 4 batters in the 7th.
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