SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Freshman Jennifer Hartman tossed an eight-inning shutout against the nation's top hitting team to lead Sacramento State to a 1-0 victory over Kansas in the fourth and final round of the Capital Classic Softball Tournament Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium.
Kansas, who entered Capital Classic play with a nation's leading .400 batting average, was limited to seven hits (six singles) by Hartman, who put together yet another impressive performance by a Sacramento State pitcher. The team's pitching staff has now gone 19 straight innings without allowing a run (spanning three games), which includes Caitlin Brook's two-hit shutout of Fresno State yesterday afternoon. The staff now has a season ERA of 2.08, and opponents are batting just .223.
With the win, Sacramento State (14-8) finished the three-day tournament with a 2-2 record. Saint Mary's finished with a 3-1 record while Kansas and Fresno State went 2-2, and Texas State went 1-3.
Hartman came up with arguably her best performance of the season, allowing seven hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in eight innings of work. She worked her way out of a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the third inning, and a second and third with one out situation in the fourth. In fact, Kansas had just two hits in 14 at-bats with runners on base, and 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. The true freshman from Bonita, Calif., improved her record to 3-1, tossed the first shutout of her collegiate career and lowered her season ERA to 1.75.
Offensively, Sacramento State tied a school record by striking out 14 times against Kansas starter Kelsey Kessler before she was lifted for Alex Jones after giving up a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kessler allowed just five hits with two walks and set a career high with the 14 strikeouts. Jones worked out of the jam in the seventh to force extra innings. The international tiebreaker rule went into effect in the eighth as a runner was placed at second base to begin the inning for both teams.
That didn't phase Hartman as she retired three batters in succession in the top of the eighth. The bottom of the eighth began when the Hornets' Yesenia Alcala was ruled out for leaving second base too early. Emily McCormick then followed with a double to center field and later advanced to third base on an illegal pitch. Jones got Kortney Solis to ground out for the second out. That brought up freshman Kayla Papez, who is hitting .500 (5-for-10) with runners in scoring position this year. Papez came through yet again, hitting a deep fly ball to right field which Rosie Hull caught for a split second before the ball popped out of her glove after she crashed to the ground. McCormick scored on the play, and the Hornets celebrated their 14th win of the season.
Senior center fielder Kelli Frye (3-for-4) had three of the Hornets' seven hits while Papez, McCormick, Solis and Paige Martin had the other knocks.
Jones (7-1) was saddled with her first loss of the season for Kansas, allowing one run and three hits over 1.2 innings.
Sacramento State returns to action next week the team opens Big Sky Conference play with a three-game home series against Northern Colorado. The Hornets and Bears will play a doubleheader on Friday at 1 p.m., and a single game on Saturday at noon. The Hornets are in the midst of a stretch that will see the team play 11 of 12 games at home.