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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State softball finishes weekend strong despite rocky start

Softball opened their season with a 3-1 record
Jose Diaz
Senior first baseman Caroline Evans up to bat against Cal Poly on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. In addition to first base, Evans pitched two wins this weekend against San Jose State and UC Davis.

Sacramento State softball started their season off strongly with a 3-1 overall record in the NorCal Kickoff. The Hornets hosted Cal Poly, San Jose State and Middle Tennessee before heading to UC Davis on Sunday.

Friday: Sac State 0, Cal Poly 1

Starting with a double header on Friday, Sac State held Cal Poly to only one run but couldn’t make it down the third base line despite a strong showing on both defense and offense.

The Hornets led the game in hits and senior pitcher Marissa Bertuccio had four strikeouts compared to the Cal Poly pitchers who combined for three.

“We were really aggressive,” Bertuccio said. “We had 10 hits, they had seven. But we just didn’t string it all together and didn’t execute when we needed to.”

It was a long game, but the Hornets never lost their energy even during the last half inning they were doing everything they could to score. The Hornets were able to keep their game strong and their spirits high going into their second game of the day.

“I felt so much energy from all of the people talking to me every pitch and I really love that,” Bertuccio said. “Also just not having won the first game, being able to bounce back and win that second game; I think that’s a really crucial part.”

RELATED: RECAP: Sac State softball drop 3 of 5 games in opening tournament

Friday: Sac State: 8, San Jose State: 0

Sac State definitely managed to find their footing in the second game of their double header.

Senior third baseman Lewa Day stepped up to the plate as the fourth in the Hornets’ batting order and launched a three-run homer into right center field. Sophomore outfielder Andrea Lira and junior shortstop Gwen Ludwig scored from first and second, giving Sac State a three run lead in the first inning.

“It was a good feeling,” Day said. “I feel like the first one of the season’s always the best.”

Sophomore outfielder Andrea Lira slides into third base against San Jose State on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. Lira drove in a run and crossed home plate twice in the win against the Spartans. (Malachi Parker)

Sac State quickly racked up four more runs in the second inning. Senior left fielder Alexis Parish and senior right fielder Haley Hanson both scored on RBI singles by Lira and sophomore catcher Katie Marsh. Lira and senior center fielder Kennedy Echols scored on a passed ball by the catcher.

Ludwig earned the eighth and final run of the game on an RBI single by junior infielder Nikki Barboza in the bottom of the fourth inning, just in time to put the mercy rule into effect. The Hornets kept their eight run lead in the top of the fifth and ended the game.

“We didn’t make any major changes to our game plan,” Sac State head coach Lori Perez said. “We encouraged them to stay confident, understand where we needed to come through offensively and I thought they responded really well.”

Saturday: Sac State: 5, Middle Tennessee: 4

Even though game one against Cal Poly ended 1-0, Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee proved to be the closest game of the weekend.

Sac State once again brought the heat in the first two innings. Ludwig scored the first run off a RBI triple by Day, followed by an RBI single by Lira to send Day home. The third run in the second inning was similar, earned by senior catcher Samantha Parish. Hanson earned the fourth run stealing home on a throwing error.

“We started off with a bang, our bats were hot from the beginning, we were attacking and we weren’t scared up there,” Hanson said. “On defense we were super relaxed and having a good time so I just knew that that game was ours from the beginning.”

The Hornets’ infield huddling up on the mound against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The first game against Cal Poly was the only game of four that Sac State lost. (Jose Diaz)

The Hornets led most of the game, until the sixth inning. It was a long half inning and Middle Tennessee scored three runs to tie the game.

In the bottom of the seventh Hanson was up to bat with Echols on second. Hanson hit a long single to right field and Echols raced home from second base, winning the game for Sac State in walk off fashion.

“We practice these situations all the time and I’ve been in this spot before too,” Hanson said. “It felt like my hard work finally paid off. I knew right when I hit it that [Echols] was going to score. It was really exciting.”

Sunday: Sac State: 4, UC Davis: 1

Playing their Causeway rival proved to be no problem for Sac State. Once again the Hornets took an early lead thanks to a repeat performance from Day, this time with a home run up the left field line that sent Ludwig and Hanson home.

Day also scored the fourth and final run for the Hornets off an RBI single by Alexis Parish, further cementing their win.

“We’re coming for a vengeance this year,” Day said. “We’re very driven. We’re very aggressive. We want everything. It’s going to be a different look this season from us.”

Sac State softball will play North Dakota on Friday Feb. 16 at 9 a.m. at New Mexico State in the New Mexico State Invitational.

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Rinn Lee
Rinn Lee, Sports Staffer
(she/her) Rinn Lee is in her second semester as a sports staffer at The State Hornet. She loves baseball, soccer and covered Sac State women's soccer in fall 2023. She is a second year journalism major and hopes to go into sports journalism.
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