POCATELLO, Idaho -- In a game that featured a combined 17 runs and 22 hits, Idaho State was able to outlast Sacramento State, 10-7, on the second day of the Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament Friday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium.
With the loss, the Hornets (25-21) saw their season come to an end. Sacramento State was the No. 2 seed in the four-team, double elimination tournament while Idaho State is the No. 1 seed and tournament host. The Hornets opened the tournament yesterday by falling to No. 3 seed Southern Utah, before winning a game out of the loser's bracket earlier today against No. 4 seed Northern Colorado.
Idaho State now advances to play Southern Utah tomorrow at 12 p.m. PDT. The Bengals will need to beat Southern Utah twice tomorrow to win the conference title while Southern Utah needs just one win. The winner of the Big Sky Tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals.
The Hornets used three pitchers in today's game, and the only effective hurler was Kaitlyn Yerby, who threw three shutout innings of relief. Right-hander Caitlin Brooks, who started all three games of the tournament for Sacramento State, lasted two-plus innings before Taylor Stroud thew an inning.
After Sacramento State opened the game's scoring in the top of the first on an RBI-fielders choice from Alexis Martinez, the Bengals unloaded for four runs in the second and six more in the third to take a 10-2 lead. After Brooks retired the side in order in the first inning, Idaho State opened the second with five straight hits, none bigger than a three-run triple from Micheala Taylor.
The Hornets cut the lead to 3-2 on a two-out, RBI-single from Martinez in the top of the third, but Idaho State's first three batters of the bottom half of the inning each got on base and scored. A single by Hailey Breakwell followed by a Terah Blackwell RBI-double chased Brooks from the game. Stroud then entered, and Maddy Hickman hit the second pitch she saw for a two-run homer. Sacramento State would then commit three errors in the inning leading to three unearned runs and Idaho State had a 10-2 lead at the end of the frame.
Sacramento State clawed its way back to within striking distance, scoring once in the fourth, twice in the fifth and twice more in the seventh inning. An Alexa Chattleton home run led off the seventh and a sacrifice fly from Nicole Clark later scored the team's seventh run, but the Hornets never were able to get the tying run to the plate. With Paige Martin on first base and two outs, Paige Castro flew out to center field to end the game.
Brooks (10-7) took the loss, allowing seven hits and six runs in two innings. Earlier today, Brooks was one out away from her first career no-hitter before settling for a one-hit shutout in the win against Northern Colorado. Haley Douglas (18-10) worked the first 4.1 innings to pick up the win. She allowed seven hits and five runs (two earned).
Sacramento State had 10 hits, including three from Castro and two apiece from Martin and Chattleton. Martin finished the tournament 4-for-7 (.571) with a double, home run, four walks and a .750 on-base percentage while Castro hit .500 (5-for-10).
NOTES -- Seven Sacramento State players finished the season hitting at least .300, comprised of Sasha Margulies (.349), Martin (.342), Castro (.341), Kortney Solis (.316), Clark (.304), Martinez (.303) and Nikki Gialketsis (.300).