March 28, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. - In front of a crowd of 1,218, the Fresno State softball team (17-12, 2-2) handed Utah State (13-15, 3-1) its first conference loss of the season Friday night by a 6-0 score.
Propelled by 12 hits on the night, the `Dogs scored once in the first inning, then added three runs in the third, and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
The `Dogs also racked up seven stolen bases - two better than their previous season best - and one off the school record vs. New Mexico last year (8).
"We had a lot of clutch hits early to get some key runs on the board," Fresno State softball head Coach Trisha Ford said, "Getting runners on base, moving them over and knocking them in was something we had stressed all week, and we did that well tonight. Brenna (Moss) and Kapri (Angotti) had some great plays defensively, and we had a whole bunch of clutch hits, including (Michelle) Solomon's double and (Whitney) Smith's sacrifice fly."
In contrast, Utah State totaled three hits and stranded four runners (and only two runners reached second base).
In the first inning, junior right fielder Michelle Solomon claimed her team-leading third game-winning RBI of the season with a double to right field that scored junior center fielder Brenna Moss who had singled to lead off the inning and stole second base.
In the third inning, the `Dogs added three runs after Solomon and senior first baseman Stesha Brazil led off with singles (and the latter knocking in a run), followed by a walk, and two-run single by freshman DP Kierra Willis.
Brazil scored another run in the sixth inning after she led off with a single, advanced on a stolen base and wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith.
In the sixth inning, senior left fielder Kapri Angotti scored the game's final run after a single, stolen base and a double by Moss to left field - her third of the season and her career.
At game's end, Moss (3-for-4) led the `Dogs in hits with her team-best 14th multi-hit game of the season, while three others had a pair of hits - Solomon (2-for-4), Brazil (2-for-4) and Willis (2-for-4).
The All-MW returnee Moss also stole a pair of bases to give her a team-high 17 on the season, and raised her career tally to 62 - still second-best for the `Dogs.
The Bakersfield, Calif., product also boosted the team defensively with a running catch on the edge of the warning track in the sixth inning.
"We tried to come out strong today and be ready to score some runs" Moss said. "Helping the team defensively is really satisfying, and our running game really gave us a huge boost. It put pressure on their pitcher and defense, and we were able to take advantage tonight."
An inning later, Angotti snagged a running catch of her own deep in the left center field gap for the game's penultimate out.
Other `Dogs that stole bases included Brazil (2), Angotti, Solomon and Willis.
Sophomore Jill Compton (11-6) posted her fifth shutout of the year, struck out five, walked one and allowed three hits - one off her season low.
"Our defense really gave me a lot of confidence, particularly our outfielders," Compton said. "All week the team told me they believed in me, and Coach said to relax tonight and believe in my pitches. The crowd also really gave me a lot of energy - they always make it easier to pitch at home."
For Utah State, this week's MW Pitcher of the Week, Noelle Johnson also threw a complete game, struck out two, walked one, allowed 12 hits, and all six of her runs allowed were earned.
Three Aggie hitters hit safely once - Sarah Chow (1-for-3), Jo Koons (1-for-3) and Hailey Froton (1-for-2).
Looking ahead, the `Dogs play again on Saturday at 5 p.m., then return for the series finale at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday (both earlier than originally scheduled due to weather forecasts).
Fresno State 6, Utah State 0 (Mar 28, 2014 at Fresno, Calif.)
Utah State 000 000 0 - 0 3 0 (13-15, 3-1 MW) Fresno State 103 011 X - 6 12 1 (17-12, 2-2 MW)
Pitchers: Utah State - JOHNSON, N. and . Fresno State - Compton, Jill and . Win-COMPTON, Jill(11-6) Loss-JOHNSON, N.(12-9) T-1:38 A-1218. Weather: 71, sunny, wind 0-3mph.
"Catch the Wave!" - Follow Fresno State softball on Twitter at the *NEW* @FresnoStateSB address.
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