SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Idaho State's Katee Wiley and Amanda Fitzsimmons both hit two-run homers to lead Idaho State to a 6-3 victory over Sacramento State in the rubber game of a Big Sky Conference three-game softball series Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium. Today also marked the regular season finale for both teams.
With the victory, the Bengals (28-21, 14-4) clinched the Big Sky regular season championship, and will host next week's Big Sky Tournament (May 9-11). The Hornets conclude the regular season with a 22-20 overall record and 7-8 mark in the Big Sky, and will assume the No. 4 seed at the tournament. In fact, these same two teams will meet again in the first round of the double-elimination tournament on Thursday at 3 p.m. PDT.
The Bengals needed to win two games in this weekend's three-game set to win the league's regular season crown, and they were able to get that accomplished. The Hornets won the first game of the series, 2-0, before the Bengals won the next two games by 11-6 and 6-3 scores, respectively. Sacramento State had at least one hit in all but two innings during the entire three-game series, but still dropped two of three games.
The top four teams in the seven-member Big Sky qualify for the conference tournament, and joining the Hornets and Bengals will be No. 2 seed Portland State and No. 3 Southern Utah. The Vikings and Thunderbirds will square off in the other first-round game on Thursday at noon PDT.
In today's game, Idaho State used two-run home runs from Wiley in the second inning, and Fitzsimmons in the third to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Hornet starter Caitlin Brooks, who tossed a two-hit shutout against Idaho State yesterday, was pulled after completing two innings and giving up the Wiley blast. Reliever Taylor Stroud worked the final five innings.
Sacramento State scored twice in the third inning, and once more in the fourth to chop the deficit to 4-3. A Kayla Papez RBI-single and a hit batter on Lauren Blair with the bases loaded pushed across two runs in the third inning, and the Hornets tacked on one more in the fourth after an ISU error allowed Alexa Chattleton to score from third base.
However, Sacramento State would not score again the rest of the way, and the Bengals tacked on insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings to win by the 6-3 score. Idaho State's Kelsi Ott worked the first two innings before Fitzsimmons (13-12) picked up the win in relief, allowing four hits and one unearned run in five innings of work.
Brooks (14-6) got the loss, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out four batters over two innings. It marked her first loss since April 3 against Nevada, a span of seven consecutive starts without a defeat. Stroud gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings of relief.
NOTES -- The Hornets finished the season 7-8 in league play, marking the first time in 11 years the team will finish below the .500 mark in conference play. Next week's games do not count towards the conference record…yesterday's 11-6 loss and today's game both lasted two hours and 46 minutes, easily the longest seven-inning games the Hornets played all season.