March 8, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
FULLERTON, Calif. - Taking on its seventh NCAA Tournament returnee this season, the Fresno State softball team (10-7) was edged by Houston (12-9) Saturday evening in third-day action in the Judi Garmin Classic.
The `Dogs outhit the Cougars, 8-4, but three Bulldog errors led to four unearned runs in the opening three innings.
Fresno State scored both of its runs in the top of the fifth inning after a one-out single by junior center fielder Brenna Moss, an error by the pitcher on a half-swing grounder by senior left fielder Kapri Angotti, a pair of stolen bases, and two run-single by junior right fielder Michelle Solomon to center field.
In the seventh inning, Solomon tried to ignite a comeback with a lead-off walk, and senior first baseman Stesha Brazil singled to first base with one out. After a wild pitch moved them into scoring position, sophomore catcher Paige Gumz nearly beat out a chopper to the pitcher that was followed by a high throw and swipe tag.
Fresno State had multiple opportunities earlier after stranding a pair of runners in the first inning, and three in the sixth inning, along with single runners in each of the remaining stanzas.
For the second straight game, freshman Kierra Willis claimed a pinch-hit to extend her reached base streak to a team season-long 12 contests, thanks to a bloop single to shallow right field in the sixth inning.
On the base paths, Moss claimed her team-leading ninth stolen base of the year in the fifth inning after just beating the throw to third base. Career-wise, the Bakersfield, Calif., native now has 54 stolen bases - still the second-best mark in school history.
Moss (2-for-4) also led the team on the evening in hits, and five others hit safely once including Willis and junior DP Taylor Green who made her second straight start.
In the circle, sophomore right-hander Hannah Harris (3-2) claimed her first complete game after she struck out a season-high four batters, walked three, and allowed four hits that all came in the first four innings.
For Houston, starter Juana Shrum (3-3) struck out three in her 4.1 innings, walked three, gave up four hits, and one of her two runs allowed were earned.
She was relieved by Diedre Outon who picked up her second save after her three strikeouts, no walks and four hits allowed in the final 2.2 innings.
At the plate for the UH, Tiffani McKnight was the lone Cougar with multiple hits with her singles in the third and fourth innings, and she also reached via a hit by pitch in the first inning.
Two other UH players singled safely once.
Houston scored its first run in the first inning after a walk, fielder's choice, hit by pitch, and bad throw by the catcher on a steal of second base that went into center field and scored a runner from third base.
In the third inning, UH scored its final three runs off two infield errors, a hit by pitch and a pair of bases loaded walks.
Looking ahead to Sunday's final day action, the `Dogs return to Anderson Family Field to play Women's College World Series returnees No. 14 Nebraska and No. 6 Washington at 9 and 11:30 a.m., respectively.
Earlier in the tourney, UW scored wins over No. 4 Michigan (7-1), Wisconsin (4-2) and lost to Nebraska (2-1) Saturday evening, while NU also topped San Jose State (4-1) and Cal State Fullerton (9-2) and lost to No. 7 Arizona State (1-0).
Houston 4, Fresno State 2 (Mar 08, 2014 at Fullerton, Calif.)
Fresno State........ 000 020 0 - 2 8 3 (10-8)
Houston............. 103 000 X - 4 4 4 (12-9)
Pitchers: Fresno State - Harris, Hannah and Gumz, Paige. Houston - Shrum; Outon,D(5) and Outon, H. Win-Shrum(3-3) Save-Outon,D(2) Loss-HARRIS, Hannah(3-2) T-1:47 A-1200. Weather: 78, clear, wind 0-3mph
"Catch the Wave!" - Follow Fresno State softball on Twitter at the *NEW* @FresnoStateSB address.
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