May 12, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. - The No. 23 Fresno State softball team is taking one-run losses on the chin of late as tonight's 6-5 Western Athletic Conference Softball Tournament loss eliminated the Bulldogs from championship play.
While their last four losses have all been by a run, the 'Dogs had a fervent comeback in the seventh but their bid to push an "if necessary" game on Saturday fell short as they went 1-2 in tournament play.
Fresno State took an early 3-0 lead when it scored all its runs in the bottom of the third with two outs. Sophomore catcher Kristin Sylvester hit a two-run double to right center to knock in senior shortstop Christina Clark, who had reached with a base hit, and freshman third baseman Haley Perkins, who also reached on a single. Junior first baseman Nichole Willis followed Sylvester's lead with a RBI single to left that scored Sylvester.
In the top of the fourth, Hawai'i answered back with two runs on two outs. Centerfielder Kaulana Gould and catcher Kristi Yoshizawa each had RBI hits to pull the Rainbow Wahine within one of the Bulldogs.
In the top of the sixth, UH took a 4-3 lead when Yoshizawa hit a two-out two-run home run to right field. In the very next frame, the Rainbow Wahine tacked on two more runs on a two-run scoring single from left fielder Brandi Peiler.
In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and trailing 6-3, Fresno State responded with four consecutive hits. Clark doubled to left field and scored on Perkins' base hit to center as Clark beat the tag at home. Freshman Robin Mackin, who had started the game at pitcher but changed to designated player in the seventh, followed with a single to center field to score Perkins. Sylvester picked up a base hit with a seeing eye single through the left side. With runners on first and second, Hawai'i brought in its third pitcher Courtney Baughman to face freshman designated player Merryann Barr. Barr nearly won the battle with a single through the right side but UH was able to knock the ball down and get the final out of the game.
Mackin dropped to 26-12 on the year. She allowed six runs on eight hits while walking three and striking out 11. The 10-strikeout performance by Mackin was her 19th of the season -- tying the school's freshman and single-season mark set by Jamie Southern in 2002.
UH starter Justine Smethurst got a no-decision after pitching the first 2.2 innings. She allowed three runs on six hits and struck out four. Reliever Jessica Mortan picked up the win to improve to 3-3 on the year as she gave up two runs on four hits while striking out two in 4.0 innings of work. Baughman notched her first save on the season when she recorded the final out in the seventh.
Fresno State (35-17) will wait to see on Sun., May 14, if it will receive an NCAA at-large invitation to the 64-team tournament field.
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