May 26, 2017

Softball clinches second place in Big Sky

(Left to Right) Seniors Kayla Papez, Kaitlyn Yerby, Sasha Margulies and Kortney Solis pose for a picture during senior day against Portland state at Shea Stadium, Saturday, May 7.

Sacramento State’s softball team took home the win on Saturday, beating Portland State 6-5 to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Big Sky Conference playoffs next week.

Saturday’s game was senior day for the squad, with seniors Kayla Papez, Kaitlyn Yerby, Kortney Solis and Sasha Margulies honored by the school with framed jerseys before the first pitch.

Hornet pitcher Celina Matthias got the ball to start for Sac State, shutting down the Viking offense in the first two innings.

Meanwhile on offense, shortstop Sydney Rasmussen hit a three-run bomb to left field against the wind in the second inning, the first home run of the year for the freshman. Coach Lori Perez knows Rasmussen has the power, and the blast was something she enjoyed watching.

“Sydney Rasmussen has been consistent for us all year, has worked hard and definitely has the power to hit home runs,” Perez said. “So for her, I think it felt good for that to come together, and she battled in a great at-bat.”

Portland State got a run back in the next inning. A two-out RBI double scored the Viking runner all the way from first, closing the deficit to 3-1.

The Hornets didn’t wait long, as they grabbed two more in the bottom of the fourth. A lead-off single by center fielder Shelby Johnston, followed by a sacrifice bunt botched by Portland State put runners on the corners. Back-to-back hit batters brought in one run, and third baseman Kailey Olcott popped a fly ball to shallow center field, just far enough to allow the runner from third to score.

Celina Matthias set down the side in the fifth, but the Viking offense turned it on in the sixth. A lead-off walk followed by a pair of singles scored one run for the Vikings and brought up the tying run to the plate. On the first pitch, the Viking batter smacked a game-tying home run to left field, knotting the score at 5-5. Although Matthias gave up five runs, she completed the game and got the win, her 19th of the year.

Not eager to play extra innings, the Hornets came back in the bottom half of the frame to score the go-ahead run. Rasmussen drew a lead-off walk and moved to second via a bunt, and left fielder Kayla Papez hit the winning hit for the Hornets. Getting huge hits in big situations is something Papez has made a habit of, says Perez.

“Kayla Papez has been somebody, ever since she stepped onto the field as a freshman, who has come up in big moments and gotten clutch RBI’s for us,” Perez said.

Matthias sat down the side in the seventh to lock up the sweep and the No. 2 seed. Even with the sweep, the Hornets will not host the playoffs next week, as Weber State won their game on Saturday to clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage. Catcher Solis may have played her last game in front of the Hornet faithful, but she and the team are looking forward to playoffs after a long season.

“We started out rough in the beginning of the season, and we kind of took it hard. We got run out in a lot of games, but we knew what we had to do, and that was take care of conference,” Solis said. “That just pretty much got us ready for conference, and here we are, going to the conference playoffs.”

The Hornets (26-20) will get a first-round bye and have their first playoff game on Thursday in Utah. Having just played there last weekend, the team feels even more confident heading into the match-up, says Papez.

“We did lose the series, we got swept, but having just played there, I feel like we know the dirt, the grass, just everything,” Papez said. “I feel confident in my teammates, and they’re ready to go out there and win.”

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