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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’s bats go quiet until the final game of the series

Hornets hold out for a win after two shutout losses
Adam Camarena
Haley Hanson standing on first at Shea Stadium against Portland State Saturday, April 12, 2024. Hanson just broke the record for career stolen bases, with 42 successful attempts.

Sacramento State softball’s hitting drought carried over to their doubleheader on Friday against Weber State, but they pulled themselves out of their rut just in time to clinch the win in game three on Saturday.

The Hornets’ last series against Portland State ended with a grand total of six hits for Sac State. Their offense in games one and two this weekend went much the same with only three and two hits respectively.

“This weekend was a tough series,” Sac State head coach Lori Perez said. “Adversity is a part of the season and the last few games have brought that.”

Game 1: Sacramento State 0, Weber State 5

Game one started with a quick three up and three down inning, but things quickly fell apart in the second inning when Weber State shut down the Hornets’ offense and then scored two runs.

Junior third baseman Nikki Barboza got the Hornets’ hopes up, with a triple to right field for Sac State’s first hit. Barboza, a frequent pinch hitter for most of the season, has been playing third base since senior Lewa Day was injured against Portland State.

RELATED: Sac State softball struggles to get their bats going against Portland State

“With Lewa out, Nikki Barboza has really stepped up to fill that void,” Perez said.

Despite Barboza’s triple, the Hornets couldn’t bring anyone home and Weber State scored two runs in the bottom of the second.

Senior pitcher Marissa Bertuccio rallied after that and didn’t give up any hits for the next three innings. Weber State didn’t score their last two runs until the sixth inning, after a series of RBIs making the final score 5-0.

Sac State’s last two hits were singles, one from senior right fielder Haley Hanson and one from sophomore designated player Andrea Lira. Neither single resulted in any runs, but Hanson joined the ranks of Sac State softball record holders, when she stole second, breaking the record for career stolen bases with 42.

“I didn’t know, I was on track to break it until all of a sudden people started posting about it,” Hanson said. “My main goal was just to get on base for my team and then get in scoring position for them any way that I could.”

Game 2: Sacramento State 0, Weber State 8

The Hornets hit new lows in game two, enduring an eight run shutout with only two hits on the board.

Weber State blew by Sac State quickly with two runs in the first inning followed by three in both the fourth and the fifth, ending the game there with the mercy rule.

“We did not play like ourselves the first day of the Weber series and needed to push through on the second day,” Perez said.

Sac State’s two hits came from senior shortstop Gwen Ludwig, who singled in the first inning and, of course, Hanson in the third inning which set her up to steal second and add to her record.

Game 3: Sacramento State 4, Weber State 3

In game three Sac State pulled out their secret weapon, sophomore Jenna Birch who went on as starting pitcher for the Hornets and proved herself in a 4-3 win on Saturday.

“Jenna has been quietly preparing in the bullpen all spring,” Perez said. “We felt like it was time to give her the ball. We knew she would provide a different look that Weber was not prepared to see.”

It was far from a perfect game for Birch. She walked 11 batters and loaded the bases three separate times in the first, fourth and eighth inning. However, Birch also had seven strikeouts and seven assists, which accounted for half of Sac State’s outs.

“For me, it’s the adrenaline rush,” Birch said. “I don’t feel all that pressure, I just think of what’s the next play. The umpire was tight, but I had to keep going because I wasn’t missing by much.”

After playing only five innings in game two, Sac State made up for the lost innings in game three, by going into extra innings. The Hornets turned the tables on Weber State, earning 12 hits, more than their last four conference games combined, and kept the Wildcats at five.

Lira started them off with an RBI single in the second inning. Barboza followed up in the third with an RBI double and then went home herself on a sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Caroline Evans.

By the bottom of the fourth the Wildcats caught up and it was a tie game for the next four innings. The top of the ninth went by fast, but the Hornets were faster.

Freshman second baseman Malissa George got on base with a triple and was almost immediately sent home to break the tie by a second sacrifice fly from Evans.

“I am extremely proud of how our offense stepped up on Saturday,” Perez said. “They stayed aggressive, made necessary adjustments and came out on a mission.”

Sac State will next play Montana State at home in their last regular season series, starting on Friday at 12 p.m.

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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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