SOFTBALL FALLS TO SOUTHERN UTAH, 5-2, IN FIRST ROUND OF BIG SKY TOURNEY
POCATELLO, Idaho - Kadi Henderson and Lyndsey Healey both had a pair of RBIs to lead Southern Utah to a 5-2 victory over Sacramento State on the first day of the Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament Thursday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium.
Despite the loss, the Hornets (24-20) are still alive in the four-team, double-elimination tournament, but will now have to work their way out of the loser's bracket. The Hornets play again tomorrow against No. 4 seed Northern Colorado at noon PDT. The loser of that game is eliminated from the tournament while the winner will have to turn around and play again at 3 p.m. PDT. Northern Colorado (20-33) fell to No. 1 seed and tournament host Idaho State (33-18) by a 3-2 score earlier today.
Entering today's game, Sacramento State had won five straight games against conference competition. The Hornets qualified as the No. 2 seed for the tournament after going 12-4 in league play and finishing just out of first place in the Big Sky standings. In tomorrow's winner's bracket game, Idaho State will take on Southern Utah (21-28) at 9 a.m. PDT.
Tomorrow's slate of games are in jeopardy as there is a 70 percent chance of rain with 25 mile per hour wind gusts in the forecast.
Southern Utah never trailed in today's game, scoring three times in the third inning and twice more in the top of the seventh after the Hornets had cut the deficit to 3-2. The Thunderbirds tallied six hits and three runs against Caitlin Brooks, who lasted just four innings. It marked the shortest outing of the season for Brooks, who was a unanimous choice as the Big Sky's Pitcher of the Year.
In fact, entering the day, Brooks had gone at least six innings in every start and had thrown complete games in 13 of her 14 starts. The three runs allowed tied for the second most she has given up all year.
Each of the Thunderbirds' three runs in the third inning came with two outs. Henderson began the scoring by lacing a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall to give Southern Utah a 2-0 lead. Three pitches later, Madison Resley went yard, giving Southern Utah back-to-back homers and a 3-0 lead. Brooks had given up four home runs all year prior to today.
Sacramento State cut into the lead with a run in the fourth inning on a Sasha Margulies sacrifice fly, and later added another in the fifth inning when Nicole Clark singled home Yesenia Alcala.
With the score, 3-2, in the top of the seventh inning, Southern Utah came up with yet another big two-out hit, this time a two-run double from Healey which scored runners from first and third base. That was more than enough run support for Southern Utah reliever Katie Greenberg who picked up the save and allowed just one hit in 2.2 innings. Ariel Hart (9-9) got the win after working the first 4.1 innings.
Brooks (9-6) took the loss, allowing six hits and three runs with three walks and three strikeouts in four innings. Right-hander Taylor Stroud worked the final three innings. Stroud retired the first seven batters she faced before issuing a walk, two hits and two runs in the seventh.
Sacramento State had just five hits and failed to draw a walk for the first time in 25 games and just the third time all season. Paige Martin, Kortney Solis, Sasha Margulies, Alcala and Clark had the Hornets' hits, including doubles from Martin and Alcala.
NOTES -- Sacramento State won two of three games at Northern Colorado earlier this year…in order to win the conference championship out of the loser's bracket, the Hornets will need to win four straight games, beginning tomorrow against the Bears.