PREVIEW: Sac State softball prepares for UCSD tournament after 2-2 start


Spencer Fielding

Marissa Bertuccio pitches to start the 2022 season in the NorCal Kickoff against San Jose State and Santa Clara University at Shea Stadium on Feb. 11, 2022. The Hornets went 2-2 on the weekend to start the season.

Spencer Fielding

The Sacramento State softball team’s offense and pitching have been hot to start the season. With a 2-2 record to kick things off, they look ready to improve from their 15-27 record last season. 

The Hornets began their season against San Jose State, where they dropped their first game of the season 2-1. Junior pitcher for the Hornets Marissa Bertuccio got the start as she struck out three Spartans. 

Even with her strong start, she allowed a two-run homer in the fourth inning, which led the Spartans to a win. Freshman shortstop Nikki Barboza recorded her first collegiate hit and run batted in for the lone Hornet run of the day.

Junior outfielder Carley Morfey’s big day led the Hornets to their first win of the season against Santa Clara University on Saturday with a final score of 6-1. She had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-3 with a double and three RBIs. 

Junior third baseman Lewa Day also hit her first homer of the season and sophomore pitcher Lexie Webb threw a complete game, striking out five Broncos on the day while allowing just one run.

Head coach Lori Perez explained how it felt for the team to bounce back from Friday’s game with a win.

“It felt great, in our Friday game we felt like we let that one slip from us, so we came back Saturday, buckled down and prepared,” Perez said.  “We made the adjustments that we needed to and they were happy to get that one under their belt and to get some runs across the board. Now it’s about putting together some consistent play.”

The Hornets’ comeback l fell short in their third game of the season, however, as two home runs were not enough to seal the win against the Spartans, leading to a 6-5 loss. Day and Webb hit home runs that game, but it wasn’t enough for the win. 

Bertuccio’s complete shutout on Sunday against the Broncos led the Hornets to a 4-0 win, their second win of the season. She struck out six batters and allowed just four. 

Freshman first baseman Caroline Evans hit her first collegiate home run, which gave the Hornets a 2-0 lead. Webb then followed that up in the next inning, with a two-run homer of her own for the 4-0 victory over the Broncos.

Bertuccio explained how it felt to get her first win of the season, ending the NorCal Kickoff with a much-needed win. 

“Really great, my first game. I got a loss, but that’s okay because I knew how to come back and go a little bit harder so it was nice, and hopefully, more to come,” Bertuccio said.” I had really nice plays behind me, and I knew they were going to have my back out there, that obviously contributed to the trust in myself because I got my defense behind me.”


Hornets’ Series Matchups:  


University of Utah (2-3)

The University of Utah’s offense has been the saving grace for their team. Their top players have been hitting the ball really well. With five players hitting over .300 for the season. Two of their best players so far are senior utility player Ellessa Bonstrom and senior outfielder Jordyn Gasper, who are both hitting .467 so far this season. As a team, the Utah Utes have hit four home runs and scored 19 runs.

Their pitching has been shaky, with a combined ERA of 5.51 and allowing 19 runs to cross. Their ace pitcher is senior Sydney Sandez who has an ERA of 1.38. In her three appearances this season, she has a complete game shutout, 12 strikeouts, and has allowed just two runs. 


University of California San Diego (2-3)

The University of California San Diego has had a good start on the offensive side as well in their season so far. They have four players hitting the .300 mark for the season. Junior third baseman Sophia Real has had a great start to the season, as she is hitting .500 and sophomore pitcher Gabby Williams is hitting .400 for the season. They have hit four home runs as a team and have scored 14 runs as a team.

Like the Utah Utes, UCSD’s pitching has struggled out the gates this year. The Tritons have a combined ERA of 5.31 and have allowed 24 runs and teams are hitting .301 for the season against them. Their ace pitcher is their freshman Jada Cecil as she has an ERA of 1.08 and she has struck out 17 batters. 


Saint Mary’s College (2-3)

Saint Mary’s College hasn’t had a great start to their season on the offensive side. They have just two players hitting over .300 for the season. Their best player has been sophomore outfielder Marissa Nishihara, who has a batting average of .412 for the season.

 The Gaels have an impressive pitching staff. They boast a collective ERA of 2.31, and opposing batters  are hitting just .236 against them. Their ace pitcher is senior Sofia Earle as she has an ERA of 1.37 and she has struck out 15 batters so far. Junior pitcher Kayla Scott has shined in relief with an ERA of 0.58 and has struck out 12 batters.


Players to watch: 


Lewa Day’s continued dominance at the plate 

Day was able to hit two home runs in back-to-back days for the Hornets. 

“It was a good feeling, definitely one that helps get your confidence back, to realize it’s here again, I didn’t lose it, nothing’s phased, we’re good,” Day said. “Then to get the second one, and to see my other teammates hit some as well, it was an awesome feeling.”

Day has started where she left off from last season. She is hitting .444 with two solo home runs and has drawn five walks on the season. 

Day, coming off a 14 homer season will be key in their matchups in the tournament this weekend.   Sac State will lean on her consistent bat at the plate to help score runs. 

The Utah Utes and the Tritons both have weaker pitching staffs as teams are hitting over .300 against them, so having Day get on base or drive runs in will be important to racking up wins this weekend. 

Against a stronger pitching staff like the Gaels, Day’s ability to draw walks will help put pressure on their pitching staff as well.


Marissa Bertuccio’s pitching leads the way 

Marissa Bertuccio (1-1) has had a very strong start to the season. In 12 innings of work, she has a 1.17 earned run average, with nine strikeouts, and a complete game shutout. 

Bertuccio will need to continue her dominant pitching to keep the Hornets in the game. She has shown she can match wits with the best offenses, allowing just two runs against San Jose State. 

The Gaels are off to a rough start offensively which should give Bertuccio a chance to make her mark during her start. 


Lexie Webb proves to be a dual-threat

Lexie Webb has provided power and pitching so far this season. She pitched a complete game while striking out five batters and has also smacked two home runs and has recorded five RBIs while hitting .385. 

She had a big first weekend as a Hornet, and she explained how it felt to get her first win on the mound on Saturday.

“It was very exciting, I was super excited, and it felt really good because my team was excited behind me,” Webb said. “It was just a great experience.” 

Keys to Victory

The Hornets’ offense will need to stay consistent in combination with their pitching if they want to be successful this weekend. 

“We’re just preparing on the fundamentals of our swings and the things we do on defense as well,” Day said. “Making sure the little things don’t allow the other teams to score multiple runs on us, just working out the little kinks and coming in confident this weekend.”

The Hornets begin the UCSD Tourney in San Diego with a doubleheader on Friday at 1:30 p.m against the Utah Utes.