Softball team completes 4-game sweep in NorCal Challenge


Alex Daniels - The State Hornet

The Sacramento State softball team celebrates as sophomore outfielder Suzy Brookshire, middle, approaches home plate after hitting her second home run of the game against Santa Clara University at Shea Stadium on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Hornets defeated Santa Clara University 7-1.

Alex Daniels

The Sacramento State softball team finished 4-0 in the NorCal Challenge — which held games at both Sac State and UC Davis — following wins over Fairleigh Dickinson University, Santa Clara University (twice) and the University of the Pacific.

The Hornets (14-8), who were originally scheduled to play UC Davis before the game was postponed due to rain, started the NorCall Challenge against Fairleigh Dickinson University (5-14) with a 7-0 win at LaRue Field in Davis.

Junior outfielder Sydnee Strong hit a grand slam home run in the fourth inning to go 2-for-3 with five RBIs. Strong said she was caught off guard with the result of her grand slam at-bat.

“The first pitch was a little high, so I was a little thrown off by that,” Strong said. “Second pitch, I was like, ‘I am just going to hit it real hard’ (and) it just went a lot farther than I expected to.

“Just coming up with no outs and bases loaded; I just wanted to put the ball in play, nothing big. But then I got something way bigger than I ever expected.”

Senior second baseman Zamari Hinton added an RBI in her 3-for-4 performance, while sophomore outfielder Suzy Brookshire went 2-for-4 with an RBI as well.

Senior pitcher Celina Matthias threw a complete-game shutout with five hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in the victory.

The second game of the series, which was at Shea Stadium, saw the Hornets defeat Santa Clara University 7-1.

Brookshire went 2-for-3 with five RBIs including two home runs in the first and second inning. Brookshire said she felt that her timing was good in her two home run performance.

“I have been really working with the coaches on keeping my hands up and just staying short to the ball,” Brookshire said. “Just keeping it simple because sometimes I’ll kinda swing out of my shoes or something.”

Hinton added an RBI with her 3-for-3 performance, while junior outfielder Nene Alas — who was recently named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week — went 1-for-4 with an RBI as well.

Junior pitcher Savanna Corr threw a complete game after only allowing one earned run, four hits and striking out two batters.

The third game saw the Hornets come back to beat the University of the Pacific 7-2 at Shea Stadium.

The Hornets, who were trailing 2-0 going into the third inning, added one run in the third inning and six runs in the fifth inning to get past the Tigers (10-16).

Matthias threw a complete game after allowing two runs, eight hits and striking out four batters.

Senior third baseman Marissa Maligad and sophomore Alexxiss Diaz both went 2-for-3 and had two RBIs each. Hinton, sophomore first baseman Mo Spieth and junior shortstop Sydney Rasmussen each added an RBI in the victory.

The Hornets completed the NorCal Challenge with a 6-3 victory over the Broncos (4-21) at LaRue Field.

Brookshire hit two home runs against the Broncos to replicate her performance the first time the Hornets and Broncos played in the tournament. Brookshire — who hit her sixth and seventh home runs of the season — went 3-for-4 with three RBIs thanks to a fifth inning two-run home run and a seventh inning solo home run.

Strong hit her second home run of the tournament against the Broncos. Strong — who now has three home runs on the season — went 1-for-4 with an RBI on the solo home run in the fourth inning. Diaz also added an RBI in her 1-for-2 performance.

Sophomore pitcher Danielle Sperry threw a complete game after allowing two earned runs, two hits and striking out four batters.

Sac State coach Lori Perez said the camaraderie of her team during the sweep of the tournament stood out to her the most this weekend.

“We have come out and been aggressive, offensively, every single game,” Perez said. “We have been swinging the bats and finding ways to manufacture runs (and) finding ways to hit the long ball.

“We have also backed it up on the (pitching) circle and (with our defense). So we have been playing a complete (game) which is great.”

The Hornets will have a major test in three days against USA Today/NFCA Division I top-25 Coaches Poll No. 16 ranked Cal — which Sac State lost to earlier this season 2-1 in extra (eight) innings — on Wednesday at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley.