March 18, 2012
By Meredith Danner
Athletic Media Relations
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Rams’ 12-game California road trip began on March 9 with a win over Cal Poly. On Sunday, they wrapped up the nine-day trip with a pair of close contests at the Capital Classic, first defeating Akron, 3-2, and later falling to host Sacramento State in a 1-0 decision at Shea Stadium.
CSU had originally been scheduled to face Sacramento State on Friday, but the game was cancelled due to rain. Sunday’s game against the Hornets was added on Saturday night in order to allow CSU, Akron and Princeton to play three games apiece at the tournament.
CSU only played nine of its 12 scheduled contests on the trip, as persistent rain forced the cancellation of three games. The Rams went 5-4 on their stint out west, bringing their overall record to 12-17 (0-0 Mountain West). Akron evened its record at 11-11 (0-0 Mid-American Conference), while Sacramento State improved to 15-8 (0-0 Pacific Coast Softball Conference) and increased its winning streak to eight games.
Against Akron Sunday, the Rams did not collect any extra-base hits and did not record an RBI hit until the fifth inning. With CSU trailing, 1-0, sophomore Alysa Greckel singled to bring in freshman Shae Rodriguez and tie the game. Later in the inning, freshman Danielle Wikre singled to score sophomore Emily Pohl from second.
The Zips added a run in the sixth to tie the game once again, but CSU sophomore Ashlie Ortega grounded out in the bottom of the frame with no outs to score senior Lyssa Roberts from third and take the lead back for good.
CSU Junior Kacie McCarthy made her ninth start of the year and tossed her sixth complete game, giving up two RBI groundouts and striking out seven. McCarthy now leads the pitching staff in strikeouts (56).
CSU later held the Sacramento State offense at bay, but SSU starting pitcher Caitlin Brooks countered with strong pitching of her own, and CSU was shut out for the fourth time this season.
“It was kind of a pitching duel,” CSU Head Coach Jen Fisher said. “I felt like we really went deep in the count. After we’d been through the lineup once, I felt like we really started going much deeper in the count off the starter, Brooks, and we were able to knock her out of the game. I thought their preparation was solid and their mental approach was solid.”
Lone freshman pitcher Molly Randle, who has made starts against Texas and Nebraska, both nationally ranked at the time, got her fifth start of the season and delivered one of her strongest performances of the year in a complete-game, three-hit outing. The Hornets’ only run came in the first inning, when junior Emily McCormick reached on an RBI fielder’s choice off of Randle to score sophomore Devin Caldwell from third. Randle held the Hornets to just two hits over the following five innings, walked two batters and struck out five. The one run against Sacramento State is the fewest she has allowed in five season starts.
“She’s had a couple really good outings, but hadn’t quite put it all together for a solid six or seven innings,” Fisher said. “We’ve seen flashes of what we saw today for two, three, four innings at a time, but to see her go the whole game was really encouraging. It was really nice to see her have a great outing like that.”
The Rams threatened in the fourth inning with two on and one out, but did not push a run across. Pohl and Ortega each collected a hit, and sophomore Kendal Butterfield went 2-for-2 at the plate.
With the road trip completed, Fisher praised the team’s performance, as well as its development.
“There was only one game on the whole road trip that we weren’t absolutely in until the bitter end,” Fisher said. “We got some good wins under our belt, got a couple of games that we were right in until the end, and we really only got blown out once. I think we’re making really good strides, and with it being a young team, I think that’s really encouraging.”
CSU finally gets a few days at home, but will travel back to California on Friday, this time to Riverside for the UC Riverside Tournament. The Highlanders will also welcome Brown and Santa Clara, whom the Rams will see at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. MT, respectively.
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