SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State sophomore pitcher Caitlin Brooks and Cal senior pitcher Jolene Henderson combined to allow just four hits while striking out 25 batters in an epic pitchers duel that was eventually won by the fifth-ranked Bears, 1-0, in a front of a record crowd of 1,212 Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
Capacity at Shea Stadium is 912, and every seat was occupied, including fans standing 2-3 rows deep along the waist-high fence down both the left and right field lines. About 40 fans even found their way to the fifth story of the parking garage for an obstructed view of an incredibly pitched softball game on a beautiful 75 degree Sacramento day.
"Its always been a dream of mine to see a packed Shea Stadium, and that dream was more than answered today," Sacramento State's 21st-year head coach Kathy Strahan said. "The atmosphere in the ballpark felt like a Major League Baseball game, and seeing that crowd was certainly one of the pinnacles of my coaching career.
"I'm so proud of the team, and especially Caitlin for putting together one of the best performances of her career. She is just a sophomore, and to pitch a game like that against a high caliber opponent in front a massive crowd speaks volumes of the type of player she has become."
The fans were treated to perhaps one of the better pitched games in the history of the ballpark. Brooks, who is the Hornets' ace and has been impressive all season, allowed just two hits while walking three and striking out a career-high tying 10 batters. Her only mistake came in the fifth inning when she hung a rise ball on an 0-1 count that Cal's Victoria Jones deposited over the left field fence.
Other than that mistake, Brooks was nearly untouchable, as she got three ground ball outs and eight fly ball outs to go along with the 10 strikeouts. In fact, the home run in the fifth inning was Cal's first hit of the entire afternoon, and they would later add a single to start the sixth inning. Brooks threw 132 pitches (79 strikes), and allowed just three Bears to reach second base the entire way. She retired the final five batters of the game in succession, which included working out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth inning.
What makes Brooks' performance even more impressive is it came against a Cal team that is currently ranked fifth in the nation in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, and fourth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Brooks, who is a native of Escalon, Calif., is now 9-4 with a 1.18 ERA this season.
Henderson, who is a two-time first team All-American, allowed just two singles with no walks and 15 strikeouts over seven innings. The 15 strikeouts are the most by Sacramento State's offense during the program's Div. I era (1990-pres.), as Henderson struck out the side in the second, third and sixth innings. Henderson induced five ground ball outs and one fly ball out mixed in with Hornet singles from Alyssa Vanderdrink and Paige Martin in the second and fourth innings, respectively.
Sacramento State never got a runner past first base and Henderson faced just two batters over the minimum. She improved her record this season to a ridiculous 23-2 while throwing 102 pitches, and 73 strikes.
Cal improved its record to 27-3 with the win while the Hornets dropped to 16-12.
Sacramento State will play a home doubleheader against Nevada on Wednesday at 1 p.m. before jumping back into Big Sky Conference play for a three-game series on the road against Southern Utah on Friday-Saturday, April 5-6. The Hornets and Thunderbirds will play a doubleheader on Friday followed by a single game on Saturday.
At the conclusion of today's game, the Hornets honored nine of the top players in program history in an on-field ceremony. Each of the nine players are featured on a large banner that measures over 79 feet in width at the back side of the Shea Stadium grandstand. The nine players represent the program's Div. I All-Americans and the Hornets who played professionally. Those nine players were comprised of Tami Blunt (1993-96), Susie Bugliarello (1994-97), Izmena Cabrera (2008-09), Katie Cichy (1996-99), Terrie Cissna (1990-93), Nicole Deatherage (2001-04), Gina Givogri (1994-96), Jamie Schloredt (2006-09) and Lindy Winkler (2003-06).