March 16, 2006
FULLERTON, Calif. - While both pitchers struggled to find the strike zone that the home plate umpire liked, Fresno State could not get the break it needed as the 24th-ranked Bulldogs fell 4-1 to sixth-ranked Alabama in the opening game of the 2006 Judi Garman Softball Classic.
Stranding 12 runners and outhitting the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first when a two-out RBI single to left field by junior catcher Nichole Willis plated senior shortstop Christina Clark in the top of the third for Fresno State's only run of the game.
Freshman right hander Robin Mackin pitched 2.2 innings and yielded three runs on three hits while walking four and fanning four to fall to 13-5 overall. Reliever Merryann Barr threw the final 3.1 innings and scattered four hits while allowing one run, a walk and striking out three.
Alabama starter Stephanie VanBrakle threw 6.0 innings and recorded the win to improve to 13-1 overall after walking four and striking out 12. Reliever Chrissy Owens pitched the final inning and allowed one hit.
The Crimson Tide picked up three runs in the bottom of the third with two outs. After what appeared to be a called third strike for the final out against the No. 8 batter Kelley Montalvo, everyone stayed frozen in time until the pitch was ruled a ball. Montalvo took advantage of the extra life and responded with a hit up the middle to start the come back for Alabama.
Clark went 3-4 with a run and a double while freshman third baseman Haley Perkins (2-4) and Willis (2-4, RBI) also had a multiple hit game for Fresno State.
Of special note is Clark's run scored against the Crimson Tide. Her 28th run of the season was No. 200 of her career as she became just the third Bulldog in school history to score 200 or more career runs. Clark joined the elite list with two All-America outfielders in Laura Berg (245) and Becky Witt (224).
The Bulldogs meet Utah next for their final game of the day. Fresno State meets Oklahoma tomorrow afternoon to close out pool play.
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