MISSOULA, Mont. — Sacramento State split a doubleheader on Friday against Montana, setting up a chance to win the Big Sky Conference regular season championship with a win tomorrow. After the Grizzlies won the first game by a 5-0 score, the Hornets bounced back with a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
With the split, Sacramento State moved its record to 28-18 overall and 13-7 in the Big Sky. Weber State also split its home doubleheader against Northern Colorado, and remains in a tie with the Hornets for first place.
The two splits sets up an opportunity for the Hornets to win their first Big Sky title since the conference began sponsoring softball in 2013. Sacramento State has not won a conference title since the 2008 team won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference crown.
To claim the Big Sky regular season title, the Hornets need to beat Montana in tomorrow's regular season finale, or see Weber State lose to Northern Colorado. Should the two teams finish tied atop the conference standings, Sacramento State owns the tiebreaker based on taking two of three games from Weber State earlier this year in Ogden, Utah. Sacramento State will play Montana at noon PDT, and Weber State hosts Northern Colorado at 11 a.m. PDT.
The winner of this year's regular season championship will host next year's Big Sky Tournament. This year's conference postseason tournament will take place in Ogden, Utah, on May 10-12 after Weber State won last year's regular season title.
Sacramento State right-hander Savanna Corr continued her impressive run, tossing a complete game while allowing seven hits and two runs (one earned) with three strikeouts. She has now allowed two runs or less in six straight appearances while improving to 7-8 with a 3.36 ERA. She allowed just two hits over the final four innings, and stranded eight Montana runners on base.
The Grizzlies got the early jump, scoring two first-inning runs. However, Sacramento State would score six unanswered runs, including a pair of scores in the second, third and fifth innings. Defensively, the Hornets threw out a pair of Montana runners at the plate, including center fielder Sydnee Strong throwing out Alex Wardlow who tried to score from second base on a single in the third inning. In addition, third baseman Marissa Maligad threw out Ashlyn Lyons at the plate in the third inning after she tried to score from third base on a ground ball.
Sacramento State's first runs came in the second inning via solo home run from Mo Spieth, followed by a Celina Matthias sacrifice fly. Matthias' sac fly scored Strong, who had a one-out triple.
Each of the Hornets' final four runs came with two outs, including the third inning when Zamari Hinton's two-out single was followed by Suzy Brookshire's 15th homer of the season, a shot down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch. The home run for Brookshire tied the program single-season record for homers she set last season as a freshman. She also has 48 RBIs, five shy of the single-season record of 53, set by Izmena Cabrera in 2008.
The Hornets tacked on two more in the fifth when Sydney Rasmussen's two-out triple scored Brookshire and Hinton. That was more than enough run support for Corr, who retired eight of the final 10 batters she faced.
For Montana, Tristin Achenbach (4-4) picked up the loss, allowing six hits and four runs over 3.1 innings. Hinton had multiple-hit games in both contests today, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the nightcap. She improved her hitting streak to 10 games, and is now hitting a robust .409. Brookshire (2-for-4 with two runs, a homer and two RBIs) and Strong (2-for-3 with a run, double and triple) also finished with multiple-hit games. Sacramento State had 10 hits, and each of the Hornets' first seven batters in the lineup connected for at least one hit.
Montana's Colleen Driscoll tossed a four-hit shutout while walking none and striking out 10 batters in a 5-0 Grizzly victory. She faced just three batters over the minimum, threw 90 pitches, and Sacramento State left just three runners on base. The Hornets' best chance to score came in the second inning when they put runners at second and third with out one. However, Matthias lined out to right fielder Wardlow who made a sprawling catch, and threw a strike to home plate to nab Rasmussen who was trying to score from third.
The two teams combined for just four hits through the first four innings, but Montana broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth inning, and three more in the sixth off Hornet starter Matthias.
The biggest hit of the game came from Gabby Martinez, who lined a a two-run single to right field in the fifth inning. Montana sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth inning, scoring three times on five hits and a Hornet error.
After tallying two hits in the second inning, Sacramento State had just two hits during the final five frames. Driscoll improved to 7-7 with the victory while Matthias (17-9) took the loss. Matthias allowed eight hits and five runs with a pair of strikeouts in six innings.
Hinton was 2-for-3 while both Rasmussen and Spieth also had hits.
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