FRESNO, Calif. – CSU Bakersfield’s softball team traveled north on Tuesday for a mid-week matchup with Fresno State, the team that knocked the Roadrunners out of the NCAA Regional Tournament a year ago. After falling to the Bulldogs 8-5 last May, the ‘Runners came out as the aggressors on Tuesday night, but Fresno State came from behind to claim the victory, 13-11.
“We played a very good game tonight,” said Crissy Buck-Ziegler, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “We keep moving in the right direction as a team and have people one by one stepping up in clutch situations.”
The ‘Runners got out to a hot start with a huge first inning. CSUB plated seven runs on four hits including a pair of home runs. After juniors Julea Cavazos and Nicole Curry hit back-to-back RBI singles with the bases loaded and one out, the ‘Runners enjoyed a 2-0 lead on the Bulldogs. Senior Jo Larios then hit her second career home run and her first grand slam as CSUB pulled ahead 6-0 and forced Fresno State’s starter, Kamalani Dung, out of the game.
With a new pitcher in the circle, sophomore Chris Hipa made it back-to-back homers for the ‘Runners as the CSUB third baseman hit her team-leading third blast of the season. CSUB’s seven runs in the first inning marked the biggest single-inning output for the ‘Runners since scoring eight in an inning against Santa Clara a year ago yesterday.
The Bulldogs answered back in the bottom of the first with a bases-loaded, one out opportunity of their own. Fresno State’s Savannah McHellon and Kierra Willis each had RBI singles to score the team’s three runs. The Bulldogs loaded the bases again with two outs, but CSUB starter Summer Evans limited the damage and got the ‘Runners out of the inning with a 7-3 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Kaylynn Burt singled to lead off the inning and eventually reached third base. Selena Gonzalez’s RBI single drove Burt home to put the ‘Runners ahead 8-3. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the fourth when Morgan Howe’s grand slam pulled Fresno State within one run.
CSUB extended its lead back to two runs in the top of the fifth after capitalizing on a Fresno State mistake. With ‘Runners on the corners, Fresno State's pitcher threw an illegal pitch and freshman Karah Wiseman came home to put the ‘Runners up 9-7. The Bulldogs answered right back with four runs in the bottom half of the frame to regain the lead, 11-9.
In the top of the sixth, back-to-back walks for the ‘Runners forced Fresno State to go to its fourth pitcher of the night. A fielding error helped CSUB load the bases with no outs and Curry’s single drove in a pair of runs to tie the score at 11-11.
Fresno State loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a double, a walk, and a hit by pitch. Miranda Rohleder’s sacrifice fly followed by Malia Rivers’ RBI single put the Bulldogs ahead 13-11.
Down to their final three outs, the ‘Runners began to mount a comeback against the Bulldogs. Junior Megan Marcy led off the inning with a single and her pinch runner, Ebony Harrison, wound up at third base with two outs. CSUB was unable to bring Harrison home and fell by a final score of 13-11.
Fresno State improved to 20-10 with the victory while the ‘Runners fell to 4-17. Evans (4-6) took the loss for CSUB after pitching 5.2 innings while allowing 13 earned runs on 15 hits and five walks. Sarah Santana earned the win, pitching the final two innings for Fresno State and holding CSUB scoreless in the process.
Offensively, the ‘Runners had their best game of the season, posting team-highs with 11 runs, 12 hits, and 10 RBI. Four of those RBI came from Larios, who went 2-for-4 in the game while Curry was 3-for-4 from the plate with three RBI. Cavazos and Hipa each added a pair of hits while Gonzalez reached based three times thanks to a hit and two walks.
The Roadrunners will continue a busy week with back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend. CSU Bakersfield will be on the road Saturday, Mar. 25, for two games at CSUN. Then, the ‘Runners will host Cal Poly at the Roadrunner Softball Complex on Sunday, Mar. 26.