SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Freshman right-hander Jennifer Hartman allowed just three hits and one run over seven innings to lead Sacramento State to a 2-1 victory over Northern Colorado in the nightcap of a Big Sky Conference softball doubleheader Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Northern Colorado was victorious in the first game by a 6-3 score.
The doubleheader marked the first-ever Big Sky games for both teams as the league began sponsoring softball this season. The Hornets, who are now 15-9 overall and 1-1 in the league, had been members of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference the last 10 years prior to this season. Northern Colorado moved its record to 10-19-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big Sky.
The two teams will complete their three-game series tomorrow afternoon with a single game at noon.
Hartman was impressive yet again, as the true freshman allowed just three hits and struck out seven batters. Uncharacteristically, she walked six batters, but was able to get out of a few of jams, stranding nine runners on base. That included getting out of a bases loaded, one-out situation in the fifth inning and a bases loaded, two-out situation in the sixth inning. She held the Bears hitless through the first three innings before a two-out, RBI-single from Kaitlin Flynn gave Northern Colorado a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
Sacramento State, which left five runners on base through the first four innings, finally broke through in the fifth with two runs and four hits. Pinch hitter Molly Smith began the inning with a double and Alexa Chattleton, who re-entered the game for Smith at second base, moved to third on a Kelli Frye single. Frye would later steal second base, and with one out, Emily McCormick drove home Chattleton to tie the score at 1-1. Paige Martin then followed with an RBI-single to score Frye with what proved to be the game-winning run.
The Bears had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, but Hartman struck out Lindsey Smith and got Morgan Yuhas to ground out and end the inning. In the sixth, with the bases loaded and two outs, Hartman fell behind the in the count 3-1 before getting Tinalia Fa'asua to foul out. Hartman then had a uneventful 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to improve her record to 4-1, which also includes a 1.60 ERA.
Sacramento State outhit Northern Colorado, 8-3, including a 3-for-3 performance from Martin and 2-for-4 from Frye. Martin improved her batting average to a team-high .405 with the three hits. Megan Wilkinson (3-10) got the loss for the Bears, allowing two runs and eight hits over six innings.
Northern Colorado scored six times in the fifth inning, benefitting from two hit batters, a walk, a Hornet error, a wind-aided pop-up that landed on the infield dirt for a single, and a wind-aided, misplayed ball in right field. Nothing hurt more than the ball hit to right field, a towering fly ball that twisted in the wind and landed on the warning track next to a Hornet fielder, resulting in a three-run triple. That gave the Bears a commanding 6-0 lead, and enough run support to withstand the three runs scored by Sacramento State in the bottom of the inning.
Of the six runs scored by the Bears in the fifth, only two were earned off Hornet starting pitcher Caitlin Brooks. The right-hander had retired the first 12 batters of the game in succession until hitting a batter to start the fifth inning. In fact, Brooks, who saw her record fall to 8-3, had gone the distance in each of her first 10 starts of the season until being replaced midway through the fifth inning by reliever Kaitlyn Yerby.
Sacramento State got its three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning via Yesenia Alcala sacrifice fly, RBI-single from Martin and a Bear throwing error allowing Frye to score.
Northern Colorado's Kelci Cheney (7-5) got the win, allowing six hits and three runs (one earned) in seven innings. Yerby was
effective in relief for the Hornets, yielding no runs and no hits while striking out two batters in 2.1 innings.
Frye and Martin both had a pair of hits, and combined for four of the Hornets' six hits. All three of Northern Colorado's hits came in the fifth inning.
Martin finished the day with five hits in six at-bats.