April 16, 2012
By Meredith Danner
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Rams began their penultimate non-conference game of 2012 with a four-run lead against the Portland State Vikings, lost the lead and took it back for good in an extra-inning walk-off thriller on Monday at Ram Field. The teams combined for 26 hits as the Rams walked away with a 10-9 victory, marking their third win in extra-inning affairs.
CSU moved back towards a .500 record with the win and are now 20-21 overall (0-3 Mountain West). The Rams are also now 3-0 in extras, having picked up eight- and 10-inning wins over Weber State and Santa Clara, respectively, and 6-2 at home. Portland State evened its record at 18-18 (8-4 Pacific Coast Softball Conference) with the loss.
“It’s important for us to get this win, especially playing at home,” CSU Head Coach Jen Fisher said. “We can play from behind and get wins, and we showed that today. We lost three games this weekend, and could have won all three, so we definitely had a bitter taste in our mouths. The mentally tough team is going to be the one who comes out on top, so we always try to stay tough mentally.”
The Rams got on the board in the first with four runs, including a bases-loaded walk and two-run double. Freshman Taylor Hutton (2-for-5) tacked on one more in the third with her first home run of the year.
“She just has a great work ethic, and I think she’s starting to gain her confidence,” Fisher said. “She’s a great athlete, she has great reactions, she’s fast, she’s strong, and just a real solid ballplayer. To be able to play outfield and catch, she’s a great utility player, and I know that great things are in store for her. She looked real calm today, so I’m very happy and confident in her.”
Senior Kelli Eubanks made her 11th start of the season in the circle and pitched four innings of three-hit, one run ball. Sophomore Kali Haas replaced Eubanks in the fifth when the Vikings loaded the bases with a single and two walks to start the inning.
“It was a good outing for Kelli,” Fisher said. “We got close to 80 pitches out of her, which is nice. I felt like she looked solid, especially early on. We continue to have to kind of nurse her along, but she’s a competitor and is doing a good job, and will be extremely important to us in our conference games in some capacity.”
The CSU lineup threatened to break the game wide open in the fourth. Sophomore Chelsea Biglow, who leads the team in home runs, came to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded, but Vikings starter Raya Johnson forced a fly-out and struck out the next two batters to pitch out of the jam.
Portland State chipped away at the Rams’ lead in the middle innings, starting with an RBI double in the fourth. The Vikings added three more in the fifth off of Haas and took a 9-7 lead in the sixth when PSU sophomore Carly McEachran doubled off of CSU’s Molly Randle to push two runs across.
Facing a 9-7 deficit, the Rams tied it back up in the bottom of the seventh with a clutch two-out, two-run double from Biglow, who leads the squad in RBI (35). Freshman Danielle Wikre then struck out swinging to send the game into extras.
CSU junior Kailey Snyder- the Rams’ fourth pitcher of the game-replaced Randle in the top of the eighth with no outs and the bases loaded, but retired three batters in a row, beginning with a pop-up and a strikeout. Freshman Haley David made the final out of the inning with a diving catch off the bat of PSU’s Aubrey Nitschelm to keep the tie intact.
“[David]’s real instinctual,” Fisher said. “Off the bat I thought it was through, but she was moving before it was hit. She read the pitch and was in good position for it. That’s what she’s capable of. [She] really showed why she’s a Division-I ballplayer. She works really hard and I’m very proud of her and who she is as a player and person.”
David led off the CSU eighth and came through once more, this time with a single to right field. Sophomore Ashlie Ortega doubled down the right-field line and advanced to third on an error, driving in David from first to score the winning run and give the Rams their fourth walk-off win of the year. Ortega went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored and also extended her current hitting streak to eight games.
The Rams will look to extend a three-game home winning streak and pick up their first conference win on Friday as they welcome Mountain West newcomer Boise State for a three-game set over the weekend. The Broncos currently sit atop the conference standings with a 29-12 record and are 3-0 in conference play. Admission to all CSU softball games is free of charge.
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