`Dogs Wallop Wolf Pack in Finale to Tie For MW Runner-up Finish
May 10, 2014
RENO, Nev. - The Fresno State softball team (31-21, 15-9) wrapped up the regular season with a second-place tie in the Mountain West Saturday afternoon thanks to a 10-1, five-inning victory over Nevada (27-25, 9-15) at Christina M. Hixson Softball Park.
Crushing three homers among its six extra-base hits, the Bulldog offense combined for its fifth double-digit scoring effort of the year, and only one win shy of the conference title.
"Today was a great bounce-back effort," Fresno State head coach Trisha Ford said. "It was a tough weekend for us, and unfortunately we didn't take care of business the first two games. We got the big hits that we needed today that were missing before. Paige (Gumz) was very sick and barely made it through warm-ups, but hung in there and had a great game. Brenna (Moss) was on fire again - even her few outs this weekend were quality at-bats."
Fresno State jumped out with a six-run first inning, then scored single runs in the second and fifth innings and two in the fourth inning to stake its sixth victory in less than seven innings this season.
Keying the offense, senior first baseman Stesha Brazil homered twice to give her a team-leading 12 round-trippers on the year, and her nine total bases Saturday was a team season high.
"We tried to stay positive because there was still a chance (to win the MW) if we won today," Brazil said. "Especially as a senior, we wanted to go out and show what we're made of. I was relaxed at the plate, and tried to clear my head. After the first homer (which barely stayed fair inside the left field foul pole), I had extra confidence for the next at-bat. Today was important to go out with a bang and show everyone that we are Fresno State, and we still meant business."
Moss was equally lethal on the base paths as her four stolen bases Saturday tied her school game record for the fourth time, while her 34 on the year tied her season record from 2013. The latter two came in the fifth inning after she stole second, then third base, and continued home when the catcher's latter throw sailed into left field.
At the plate, Moss's and Brazil's 3-for-4 efforts marked their 24th and 13th multi-hit games of the season - tops for the squad in 2014.
"We knew we had nothing to lose today," Moss said. "Coach (Ford) said to come out, have fun and don't stress. We wanted to show them what Bulldog Softball was all about - swing away and play hard. I didn't have a sign to steal third base - I felt it was there and went for it. Offensively, we tried to get people on, move them over, and drive them in. That's something we try to do every time, and play every game like it's our last. All the events that happened this year are engraved in us."
In the first inning, the `Dogs' six runs came courtesy of two- and three-run homers by Brazil and sophomore catcher Paige Gumz, and an RBI single by Moss.
In the second inning, Brazil added her team-leading 12th homer - a solo shot to left center field - to move to 12th all-time in a season for Fresno State. Similarly, her career tally (28) still left her seventh in school history, and only one shy of former All-American Jamie Southern (sixth, 29).
For the game, two other `Dogs had multiple hits - senior left fielder Kapri Angotti (2-for-3) and Gumz (2-for-3, 2B, HR) and the latter's 4 RBI was a career high.
Sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith also doubled in the first inning to give her seven on the year - one shy of Moss's season-leading total (8).
In the circle for Fresno State, sophomore Jill Compton (20-9) struck out six, walked three and allowed six hits in her five-inning complete game.
For Nevada, Ariel Craig (0-2) pitched the first inning, struck out one, walked none, allowed seven hits, and six of her seven runs allowed were earned.
This week's MW Pitcher of the Week - Karlyn Jones - worked the final four innings, struck out one, walked none, gave up six hits, and two of her three runs allowed were earned.
Nevada's lone run came in the fifth inning after singles by Sara Parsons, Megan Sweet and Nikki Orozco. Nevada threatened to add another run the next at-bat when Ashley Butera drilled a shot to deep left field. However, Angotti raced back to make the catch on the run in front of the warning track and end the game.
Overall for the game, six Wolf Pack batters hit safely once.
In other action around the league Saturday, San Diego State beat Boise State, 5-1, to cinch a series sweep and win its third straight MW championship.
UNLV also topped Utah State, 8-0, in five innings to tie Fresno State for second place with 15-9 marks.
CSU, which entered the weekend tied with UNLV, dropped both games of its doubleheader Saturday at home to San Jose State (9-6, 4-1).
Factoring in those results, Boise State took fourth (30-22, 14-10) in the final conference standings, followed by San Jose State (fifth, 30-24, 13-11), Colorado State (fifth, 32-17, 13-11), Nevada (seventh, 27-25, 9-15), New Mexico (eighth, 16-36, 7-17) and Utah State (ninth, 18-37, 6-18).
Complete MW standings and more conference information is available at the www.TheMW.com web site.
Figuring in the first two games of the series (Nevada 3-2 and 5-1 wins), Moss hit a team-best .667 on the trip (8H, 2B, 2 RBI, 5 SB).
Five other Bulldogs also topped .300 - Brazil (.545, 6H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1.182 slugging), Martin (.500, 4H, 2 2B), Angotti (.429, 3H), Smith (.333, 3H, 2B) and Gumz (.333, 3H, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, .778 slugging)
Team-wise the past two months, the `Dogs won six of their eight league series with a three-game sweep of Utah State and 2-1 advantages over SDSU, UNLV, Colorado State, San Jose State and New Mexico. It dropped the other two series to Nevada and Boise State by 2-1 counts.
Among the team's nine conference losses, four were by one run, and three were by two runs. In contrast, the `Dogs enjoyed a school record for runs vs. Boise State (24-4 (5)), and its third-highest tally ever vs. New Mexico (20-0 (5)).
"Overall, it's been a great season," Ford said. "I'm very thankful to a senior class that did a lot of great things. Team-wise, there is a lot to learn from this year. We will go back to the drawing board and figure out some adjustments that we need to make as players and coaches to get over the hump."
In the non-conference slate, the `Dogs topped a pair of returning Women's Collegiate World Series advancers by 1-0 scores in No. 6 Washington and No. 14 Nebraska. Fresno State also had three other wins against NCAA returnees - last year's ACC Tournament champion N.C. State (1-0) and last year's WAC champion San Jose State (8-1, 2-0). The latter victory featured a no-hitter by Compton - her second as a collegian and 71st in school history.
"Our team has overcome a lot of challenges," Brazil said, "and handled it really well this season. It helped us grow up and come together and form close bonds that will never be broken."
Looking ahead to Sunday night, the 'Dogs still hold hope for a potential NCAA Tournament at-large bid when ESPNU announces the 64-team field live at 7 p.m. PT.
Fresno State 10, Nevada 1 (May 10, 2014 at Reno, Nev.)
Fresno State 610 21 - 10 13 0 (31-21, 15-9) Nevada 000 01 - 1 6 3 (27-25, 9-15)
Pitchers: Fresno State - Compton, Jill and Gumz, Paige. Nevada - CRAIG, A; JONES, K(2) and BUTERA, A. Win-COMPTON, Jill(20-9) Loss-CRAIG, A(0-2) T-1:25 A-308. HR FS - Brazil, Stesha 2 (12); Gumz, Paige (2). Weather: 52, cloudy, wind 10-15 out towards CF. CRAIG, A faced 1 batter in the 2nd.