Despite nine hits from the Hornets’ batters, Sacramento State softball had trouble scoring runs and was defeated 7-2 by Idaho State University (28-14, 13-2 Big Sky), as the Bengals completed the series sweep on Saturday.
The loss drops the Hornets to 10-5 in Big Sky conference play and 21-23 overall. Also, the women have lost four straight games and dropped to third place in the conference standings behind Weber State University (28-15, 9-4 Big Sky) and Idaho State.
With six games left, it’s still possible for the women to claim first place at the end of the regular season.
“From here on out, we need to focus on getting every single win that we can,” said senior outfielder Nicole Clark.
It was a tough start for Hornets’ pitcher Caitlin Brooks, as she allowed a three-run home run to Hailey Breakwell in the first inning.
In the top of the second inning, the Bengals scored two more runs with RBI singles by Kacie Burnett and Vicky Galasso.
The Hornets would not score until the bottom of the third inning, with an RBI groundout from Sasha Margulies and an RBI single from Alexa Chattleton to cut the Tigers’ lead to 5-2.
Another scoring opportunity came for the Hornets in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Sac State left three runners on base.
In the inning, the bases were loaded with no outs for Paige Martin, as she hit an RBI groundout that appeared to score pinch-runner Makenzine Wayadande, but the run did not count, as Clark was called for interference while advancing to third.
Clark ran into Breakwell during the play as the shortstop was trying to play the groundball. Hornets’ coach Lori Perez and Clark disagreed with the umpire’s call.
“It was a big turning point [and] a blown call,” Perez said. “Obviously, there’s nothing we could do about it now. We still had one out and an opportunity to score and we didn’t do a good job making adjustments.”
Clark said Breakwell didn’t have a play on the ball while running by her, but she stuck her arm out to hit Clark on the side.
“It kind of changed the momentum a little bit,” Clark said. “I definitely was upset about it, but [those] calls are a part of the game. It was a smart play on her [Breakwell’s] part, but I feel like we got the bad end of it.”
After Clark was called out, Zamari Hinton popped up and Maligad was tagged out at third when Margulies hit a groundball to end the inning.
The Bengals added two more runs, with one in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
Despite the low-scoring day, Clark (3-for-3), Margulies (2-for-4) and Martin (2-for-3) had multi-hit performances for the Hornets. Shelby Johnston (1-for-4) and Chattleton (1-for-4) recorded a hit also.
Margulies improved her batting average of the season to .415. If she keeps her average over .400 with six games left, Margulies would become the fourth player in program history to hit over the mark in the Division I era (1990 to present).
“I have this mentality now that if I put the right swing on the right pitch, I could have a quality at-bat every time,” Margulies said. “I just have to continue to work on [it] to consistently stay at this place where I am.”
Brooks (9-5) pitched her 11th complete game of the season, but received the loss, allowing nine hits, seven earned runs and four walks. The senior also had seven strikeouts in the game.
The Hornets will host their last home series at Shea Stadium of the regular season when they face off against Weber State beginning with a doubleheader on Friday, April 24 at noon and 2 p.m.
The Wildcats are currently in second place in the Big Sky and are a half-game up on the Hornets.