Sacramento State softball opened Big Sky Conference play today in a doubleheader against the University of Northern Colorado at Shea Stadium. The Hornets were victorious in both games, defeating the Bears 6-1 in game one and 5-4 in game two.
The wins improved Sac State’s record to 12-16 and the team has won three straight games. In each of the past four games, the women have scored at least five runs.
“We did make some adjustments to our offense; we really started focusing on our two-strike approach and [hitting with] runners in scoring position,” said Sac State coach Lori Perez. “[We] made some conscious effort of setting a plan in those situations; I think that has helped to simplify the game for them and they’ve done a great job of working good at-bats, making the pitchers work and catching the mistakes.”
Freshman pitcher Celina Matthias started game one after coming off of tossing 17 innings in a doubleheader Wednesday against the University of Nevada, Reno.
Matthias started the game by throwing seven pitches to four batters in the top of the first inning and retired the side with five pitches in the top of the second.
In the first three innings it was a pitcher duel between Hornets pitcher Matthias and UNC starter Jayme Reddacliff with Sac State leading 1-0.
The Hornets grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second inning when freshman third baseman Marissa Maligad hit a two-out RBI single that scored Kortney Solis.
Freshman Zamari Hinton extended the Hornets’ lead to 2-0 with another two-out RBI single that scored Shelby Johnston in the bottom of the fourth inning.
UNC cut the Hornets’ lead to 2-1 by scoring on a wild pitch by Matthias in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of fifth inning, the Hornets scored two runs on three hits and took advantage of errors by UNC.
Solis helped her team extend the lead 3-1 with an RBI single that scored Sasha Margulies in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Hornets scored another run in the inning with a two-out RBI single from Maligad. Maligad had a solid game, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with Margulies on first, Chattleton hit a single but both runners advanced and scored after an error committed by the Bears’ infielder Molly Ryan to extend Sac State’s lead to 6-1. Originally, Chattleton was credited with an inside-the-park home run, but the play was later scored as an error.
Matthias (6-7) pitched a complete game, which added up to a total of 24 consecutive innings in a span of four days. The right-hander received her sixth win of the season allowing four hits, one earned run, three walks and tossed three strikeouts.
“Celina did a great job coming in, especially after Wednesday and throwing as many innings as she did,” Perez said. “She fought through and battled and found a way to get ground balls and used her defense.”
Matthias reflected on her performance and starting three straight games for her team.
“My arm feels great,” Matthias said. “I feel completely fine and I’m pretty sure my teammates don’t think I’m human now.”
The Hornets’ offense had 12 hits in the game including multi-hit games by Chattleton, Maligad and Paige Martin.
In game two, senior pitcher Caitlin Brooks got the start for the Hornets.
Brooks got off to a slow start, allowing a leadoff baserunner in each of the first four innings with walks and a single.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third when Martin hit a sacrifice fly that scored Maligad after she hit a triple.
In the top half of the fourth, UNC got on the board when Jenna Jordan hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game 1-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Hornets regained the lead and scored on a wild pitch by UNC pitcher Reddacliff, who came into the game in relief for starter Kelli Kleis. The score gave Sac State a 2-1 lead.
After a slow start, Brooks began to settle in by the top of the fifth, in which she had a 1-2-3 inning.
The Hornets scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out RBI double by Solis and a Chattleton run scored, which was allowed by an error from the Bears’ third baseman Kaitlin Flynn. Both runs extended the lead to 4-1.
After Brooks pitched out of a jam in the top of the sixth inning, senior Paige Castro hit an RBI single that boosted the Hornets’ lead to 5-1.
In the top of the seventh, Brooks found herself in another jam with two on and two outs after the Bears scored their second run of the game. While pitching out of the stretch, she gave up an RBI double to Morgan Yuhas that cut the lead to 5-4.
When it looked like the Bears would come back and take the lead, pinch-hitter Nicole Hudson fouled out at third.
Brooks received the win (5-3) and allowed four hits, one earned run and five walks. She also threw four strikeouts.
“I think right now I’m definitely struggling finding command and my mechanics are still not there all the way yet,” Brooks said. “I think there’s a little bit of hesitation going into it but we got the win.’
After winning both games of the doubleheader, the Hornets could sweep the series in the finale at noon on Saturday.
Matthias will start on Saturday, according to Perez. The game will mark her fourth start in the last five games.