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March 22, 2014

SOFTBALL COMPLETES 3-GAME SWEEP OF NORTH DAKOTA WITH 9-0 WIN

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- All nine Hornet starters had at least one hit and right-hander Taylor Stroud tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Sacramento State to a 9-0 victory over North Dakota in the finale of a three-game Big Sky Conference softball series Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The game was stopped after five innings because of the eight-run mercy rule.

With the win, the Hornets (14-14, 3-0) complete the three-game sweep of North Dakota (1-18, 0-3), which included victories yesterday by 5-1and 6-3 scores. In addition, Sacramento State has won four straight and six of its last seven games after falling to five games below .500 a week ago.

During the three-game series against North Dakota, the Hornets' offense combined to hit .453 (34-for-75) with 17 RBIs while the pitching staff tallied a 1.11 ERA, allowing just 18 hits in 19.0 innings. Sasha Margulies reached base safely in nine of her 10 plate appearances during the series, going 5-for-6 with a double, four walks and four RBIs. Alexis Martinez (.625), Nicole Clark (.556) and Alexa Chattleton (.556) also hit better than .500 during the series.

In today's game, Sacramento State jumped all over North Dakota starter Kaylin Van Domelen and reliever Sophie Pratt to the tune of nine runs and 14 hits. All nine Hornet starters had at least one hit, including 3-for-3 from Alexis Martinez, and two hits apiece from Margulies, Paige Castro and Paige Martin.

"We needed to get our offense going, and this series was a perfect opportunity to do that," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "We had some good at-bats yesterday, and really built off that today. Anyone in our lineup can help us out offensively, and we were seeing the ball big today."

Sacramento State scored three times in the first inning, and six more in the fourth. That was more than enough run support for Stroud, who, after allowing the first two batters of the game to reach base, retired 15 of the final 16 batters she faced. The right-hander tossed her second shutout of the season, yielding just two singles with no walks and three strikeouts. She needed just 59 pitches to pick up her 30th career win and move into eighth on Sacramento State's Div. I-era top 10 list for most career victories.

"Taylor has been doing a lot of work off the field as far as getting herself ready and watching video," Perez said. "After allowing the first two runners to get aboard, she got settled in and really found the spin on her ball and used it effectively."

After Stroud worked her way out of a first and third with one out situation in the top of the first, the Hornets scored three times in the bottom of the inning. RBI-singles from Martinez and Castro and a Yesenia Alcala sacrifice fly accounted for the three runs.

The Hornets were held scoreless in the second and third before breaking things open with six runs and eight hits in the fourth inning. During the frame, Sacramento State sent nine batters to the plate and eight had hits. Two of the outs recorded in the inning were on the base paths where Hornet runners tried to stretch singles into doubles unsuccessfully. The big blows in the inning were RBI-singles from Solis, Clark and Nikki Gialketsis, and a two-run single from Margulies.

Van Domelen (1-7) got the loss for North Dakota, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 3.1 innings. Pratt allowed three runs and four hits during her two-thirds of an inning in relief.

The Hornets will play their final non-conference game of the season Wednesday at Cal, before hosting another three-game Big Sky series on Friday and Saturday against Southern Utah. The Hornets and Thunderbirds will play a doubleheader on Friday at noon followed by a single game on Saturday at noon.

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