SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Junior Caitlin Brooks tossed a three-hit shutout and Sacramento State used a seven-run fourth inning to propel the Hornets to a 7-0 victory over San Diego in the fourth and final round of the Bronco Softball Classic.
The win for the Hornets (5-5) was their fifth in the last seven games, and the team concluded the Bronco Classic with a 3-1 record. That included victories over each of the other three teams at the tournament in Santa Clara, Iowa State and San Diego. The Hornets' lone loss during the tournament came to San Diego (3-7) yesterday.
Sacramento State pitchers have now thrown shutouts in the last two games, including Taylor Stroud's five-hitter of Iowa State yesterday. In fact, Hornet pitching has limited the opposition to one run or less in five of the last six games.
In today's victory, Brooks allowed just three hits (all singles) while walking two and striking out five over seven innings. She faced just six batters over the minimum, and did not allow a hit after the third inning. The right-hander has not allowed an earned run in 15 consecutive innings, which spans three appearances. She is now 2-3 this year with a 0.63 ERA and opponents are hitting just .190 when Brooks is in the circle.
Amazingly, all seven runs in the fourth came after the first two batters of the inning were retired, and all seven runs were unearned. After Shelby Johnston and Kortney Solis were retired to begin the frame, Sasha Margulies followed with a double and Paige Martin walked. With runners at the corners, Alexis Martinez hit a fly ball that was dropped by Santa Clara's left fielder, and the Hornets more than capitalized on that miscue. Two runs scored on the play, and that was just the beginning.
More runs were pushed across the plate on an RBI-double from T.J. Watts, a two-run bunt single from Paige Castro on a squeeze play that rolled through the right side of the infield, an RBI-single from Johnston and a wild pitch allowing Alexa Chattleton to score. Castro and Chattleton pulled off a double steal during the inning as well.
Four of the Hornets' six hits came in the fourth inning, and Johnson was the only player in the game with multiple hits as the true freshman went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Martin went 0-for-2 with a walk and had her six-game hitting streak snapped.
San Diego used three pitchers, and Jenny Lahitte (2-4) took the loss, allowing five unearned runs and two hits in 3.2 innings.
Sacramento State returns to action next week for the two-day, four-team Gael Classic in Moraga. The Hornets will play twice on Saturday and Sunday, beginning on Saturday against host Saint Mary's at noon.