March 16, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team (14-10) gave its fans plenty of reason to stick around for its 6-4 win over New Mexico State (17-13) Saturday evening, while Cal Poly (14-11) edged the Bulldogs, 6-1, in the afternoon.
Against the Aggies, the `Dogs weathered four lead changes to top its former WAC Conference rival, while celebrating a pair of homers.
"Tonight wasn't the prettiest win but it was still important," Fresno State softball head coach Trisha Ford said. "We had to battle back, and got clutch long balls from Stesha and Michelle, and some other key hits late in great at-bats from them and Whitney. Jill kept the hitters off balance, had good velocity, and also fielded well. We also didn't commit any errors, and that was especially important in a close game like this."
In the second inning, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil drilled her fifth homer of the season - a two-run shot to left field with one out - and staked her seventh multi-RBI game of the season. The roundtripper almost hit the perimeter hedges and stood as her 21st career-wise - still the eighth-best mark all-time in school history.
Junior right fielder Michelle Solomon followed with a solo home run in the fourth inning - her third of the season and moved into a tie for most extra-base hits on the year (8) with Brazil.
In the sixth inning, the `Dogs tacked on three more runs set up by a walk by senior third baseman Vonnie Martin and bunt single by Solomon. Brazil followed with a RBI single up the middle on a 1-2 count, and sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith lined a two-run opposite field single to cap a nine-pitch at-bat that started with an 0-2 count.
Brazil's third game-winning RBI upped her team best of 2014 and broke a tie with Martin.
For the game, Solomon (2-for-3, BB, RBI) and Brazil (2-for-3, 3 RBI) claimed their fifth and fourth multi-hit games of the season, and outfielders Brenna Moss and Kapri Angotti added their 11th and third stolen bases of the year.
"The homer was nice, but I was just as excited about the bunt," Solomon said. "I had been working on that in practice, so it was nice to get it down cleanly at a key time. I was surprised that they didn't even make a throw - it must have been because of how fast I was running (smiling). Coach had told us earlier in the game to go out and pick up our pitchers, so it was rewarding to do my part in a team win."
In the circle, `Dog starter and redshirt sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge pitched the opening inning and gave up two hits, two runs and one walk.
Sophomore Jill Compton (9-4) pitched the final six innings, struck out seven, walked three, scattered five hits, and both of her runs allowed were earned.
NMSU went ahead in the first inning, 2-0, after a walk, singles by Brennalyn Nakamura and Staci Rodriguez, a wild pitch and sacrifice fly by Lacey Rother.
New Mexico State retied the game, 3-3, in the fifth inning after an opening walk, sacrifice bunt and RBI single by Nakamura to center field.
The Aggies' final run in the seventh inning came after a lead-off single by Emma Adams, a pair of ground-outs and a double off the left field wall by Rodriguez.
A batter later with the tying run at the plate, Compton answered with a strikeout of NMSU's clean-up hitter Fiana Finau.
In the `Dogs' earlier game hours before, Cal Poly (14-11) won, 6-1, thanks to a five-run fifth inning.
In that third stanza, the Mustangs scored the second-most runs in an inning by a FS opponent in 2014, thanks to a walk, two hit by pitches, infield error, two fielder's choices and three singles.
Cal Poly's final run came in the fourth inning after three singles and a sacrifice fly. The `Dogs scored their run in the third inning after a double by junior center fielder Brenna Moss to left center field - her second in the last four games (and in her career). The All-MW returnee scored two batters later on a single by Solomon to right field.
At game's end, Moss (2-for-3) logged her team-leading 11th multi-hit effort of the season, while Solomon (1-for-3) hit safely for the third straight game.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native Moss also added a steal and now has 56 career-wise - still second-best all-time for the `Dogs.
Among the defensive highlights, the `Dogs claimed their eighth and ninth double plays of the year in the third and fifth innings, respectively, while Moss added a diving catch to start the second inning.
In the circle, sophomore Hannah Harris (3-4) pitched the opening 2.1 innings, posted no strikeouts, one walk and three hits allowed, and four of her five runs allowed were earned.
In her 12th relief appearance of the campaign, sophomore Taylor Langdon entered in the third inning with the bases loaded and one out. In her inning of work, she struck out none, walked none, and allowed four hits and one earned run.
Aldridge finished her third game of the season, and logged one strikeout and three hits allowed, and was credited with no runs allowed in the final 3.2 innings (also her third-longest stint of the year).
Cal Poly starter Sierra Hyland (11-4) pitched her 12th complete game, struck out eight, walked one, and allowed three hits and one earned run.
The Mustangs had three players with a pair of hits - Lauren Moreno (2-for-3), Sierra Hyland (2-for-4) and Kim Westlund (2-for-4).
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs play St. Mary's (11-15) on Sunday at 3:45 p.m. in the final contest of the 17-game tournament at Bulldog Diamond.
The other three games scheduled for Sunday include Ohio State-Colorado State (9 a.m.), Cal Poly-New Mexico State (11:15 a.m.) and Cal Poly-St. Mary's (1:30 p.m.).
"Today was a big win, but Sunday is equally important," Solomon said. "We have played them several times, so they're familiar with us. We also want to try and get another win at home because it's always great to play our best in front of our fans."
A complete tournament schedule with scores and starts times is available at the http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/14-fresno-state-classic.html URL address.
Game 1 - Cal Poly 6, Fresno State 1 (Mar 15, 2014 at Fresno, Calif.)
Cal Poly 005 100 0 - 6 10 1 (14-11) Fresno State 001 000 0 - 1 3 1 (13-10)Pitchers: Cal Poly - Hyland, Sierra and Cochiolo, Mariah. Fresno State - Harris, Hannah; LANGDON, Taylor(3); ALDRIDGE, Kiley Shae(4) and Gumz, Paige. Win-Hyland, Sierra(11-4) Loss-HARRIS, Hannah(3-4) T-2:02 A-1000. Weather: 75, sunny, wind 0-3mph
Game 2 - Fresno State 6, New Mexico State 4 (Mar 15, 2014 at Fresno, Calif.)
New Mexico State 200 010 1 - 4 7 1 (17-13) Fresno State 020 103 X - 6 6 0 (14-10)Pitchers: New Mexico State - Donisthorpe, Karysta; McAdams, Makayla(4) and Reedy, Tatum. Fresno State - Aldridge, Kiley Shae; COMPTON, Jill(2) and Gumz, Paige. Win-COMPTON, Jill(9-4) Loss-McAdams, Makayla(6-2) T-2:02 A-1640. HR FS - Solomon, Michelle (3); Brazil, Stesha (5). Weather: 73, clear, wind 0-3mph. Donisthorpe faced 2 batters in the 4th.
"Catch the Wave!" - Follow Fresno State softball on Twitter at the *NEW* @FresnoStateSB address.
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