POCATELLO, Idaho -- Sacramento State junior Caitlin Brooks was one out away from her first career no-hitter before settling for a one-hit shutout in the Hornets' 4-0 victory over Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Softball Tournament Friday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium.
The Hornets (25-20) will turn around and play again at 3:20 p.m. PDT today against Idaho State (33-19) with the winner advancing to play tomorrow while the losing team is eliminated from the four-team, double elimination tournament. Idaho State lost earlier today to Southern Utah, 8-0, in six innings to set up this afternoon's meeting.
Should Sacramento State beat Idaho State, the Hornets will play again tomorrow at 12 p.m. PDT against Southern Utah.
Brooks, who was unanimously selected as the Big Sky's Pitcher of the Year, retired the first 15 batters of the game before issuing a walk to lead off the sixth inning. She then set down the next five batters in succession to move within one out of her first career no-hitter and the program's first in three years. With two outs in the seventh, after a pair of close pitches were not called strikes on 1-2 or 2-2 counts, Northern Colorado's Nicole Hudson lined a single to left field to break up the no-hit bid.
Brooks had to settle for a dominant one-hit shutout in which she allowed just the single and one walk while striking out 11 batters. She threw 108 pitches and faced just two batters over the minimum.
The Hornets scored once in the first inning and three more times in the second inning to give Brooks more than enough run support. In the first, Sasha Margulies' RBI-single scored Paige Martin, and one inning later, Martin crushed a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for a three-run homer and a 4-0 Hornet lead. The home run for Martin was her team-high fourth of the season.
Sacramento State finished with seven hits, including two from Paige Castro. Martin reached base safely in all four plate appearances, going 1-for-1 with a run scored, three walks, a homer and three RBIs.
The win for Brooks (10-6) was her 10th of the season while Megan Wilkinson (12-17) took the loss, allowing four hits and four runs in 1.1 innings. Breeanna Holliday pitched the final 4.2 innings of relief for the Bears, allowing just three hits.