FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team extended its winning streak to seven and added two more Top 25 wins by completing the series sweep of No. 20/25 Hawai'i (2-1 and 2-0) on Saturday afternoon.
"It was a great team effort," head coach Margie Wright said. "That was a great team that we played. We did what we needed to do. The team has worked very hard and it showed with our timely hits and some great defensive plays."
Fresno State (22-8, 6-0 WAC) turned to the long ball, clutch pitching performances and a sterling defensive effort during the Saturday doubleheader victories against the defending Western Athletic Conference champion.
The sweep of the Wahine set the stage for a first-place showdown next weekend in Las Cruces between the Bulldogs and New Mexico State (27-10, 6-0 WAC).
In the latest NCAA RPI, Fresno State sported a WAC-best 21 and Hawai'i sat at 49, just ahead of the Aggies' 50 ranking.
"It means a lot to us," junior pitcher Michelle Moses said. "We've all been working hard and its definitely paid off. The credit goes to the whole team."
During the day's opening game, Hawai'i struck first with a run in the third when Jenna Rodriguez plated Jasey Jensen with an RBI single for an early 1-0 UH lead.
An inning and a half later in the bottom of the fourth, junior leftfielder Andrea Ortega smoked the eventual game-winning two-run home run to the left field berm.
Junior Mackenzie Oakes (13-2, 3-0 WAC) picked up the win in the circle as the Dogs improved to 11-0 in Oakes' 11 starts this year. Oakes delivered 5.0 innings and allowed only the third-inning run.
Moses (Paso Robles, Calif.) finished off the final two innings of scoreless ball to nail down the 2-1 victory in her first relief outing of the season. The effort marked her first save this season and the third of her Bulldog career.
In the series finale, the Dogs and Wahine featured Moses and reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year Stephanie Ricketts for the second straight day. The two had battled on Friday night before an ESPNU national audience as Moses tossed her first career no-hitter and lead Fresno State to a 5-0 victory.
Today's duel remained scoreless until senior Nicole Angene crushed an opposite two-run home run into the wind for all the runs Moses needed to close out Hawai'i by the final of 2-0 and cap the Bulldogs' impressive showing against a team that advanced to the 2010 Women's College World Series.
Angene told Ortega, who would later draw a one-out walk and score on the home run, that they were going to get the win during that sixth inning.
"Before our at-bats, I told Dre, 'You and me, we're going to get this done,'" Angene said. "I knew it was going to happen. We were not going down."
Hawai'i (25-12, 3-3 WAC) suffered its first WAC sweep of the season.
Of special note, senior Haley Gilleland tied a school record with three stolen bases in the series clincher to improve to 16-for-17 in stolen base attempts this season. Caroline Chavez (1981) and Becky Witt (2001) are the only other Bulldogs to swipe bags in a single game. Gilleland now owns 75 stolen bases in her four-year career and her 16 this year moved her within 11 of Karen Tabor's single season school record (27).
On the weekend, Moses - a 2010 All-West Region honoree - made a case for national pitcher of the week honors as she went 2-0 with a no-hitter, two complete game shutouts, save and allowed only two hits in 16.0 innings of work. This all came against the potent Wahine squad that entered the weekend averaging 4.9 runs per game.
Fresno State will return to the road for a four-game road stretch that begins at Pacific on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and then travel for a WAC road series at New Mexico State on Friday and Saturday.
Fresno State's 2011 Top 25 Wins
Fresno State 3, No. 5/6 Michigan 1
Fresno State 6, No. 8/10 Missouri 3
Fresno State 4, No. 19/18 Oklahoma State 3
Fresno State 5, No. 20/25 Hawai'i 0
Fresno State 2, No. 20/25 Hawai'i 1
Fresno State 2, No. 20/25 Hawai'i 0
"We Are Your Team!" --- Fresno State will visit Pacific (April 5) and New Mexico State (April 8-9) before returning to Bulldog Diamond to host San Jose State on April 15 at 6 p.m. and an April 16 doubleheader that starts at 1 p.m. Make sure to stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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