April 17, 2014
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State softball team continued its hot play on Thursday, beating Nevada, 7-1. The win is CSU’s 10th in its last 11 games, including the team’s eighth in a row at Ram Field.
“Once again, we battled tough,” Head Coach Jen Fisher said. “We stayed patient and focused, and had a good all-around day.”
Runs were hard to come by in the early going, however.
Through four innings, neither team could get on the board, and the two squads combined for just six hits. The Wolf Pack (21-20, 3-10 MW) threatened in the fourth by loading the bases, but CSU’s Holly Reinke shut the door, striking out Sara Parsons to end the inning.
Reinke remained dominant in the fifth, sending the game to the bottom of the frame still scoreless.
“We weren’t pressing,” senior Chelsea O’Connor said. “We were calm, knowing we needed just one run to get us going.”
Senior Kendal Butterfield led off the inning with a walk, and freshman Haley Hutton reached on a bunt single. With runners on second and third after a Shae Rodriguez sacrifice bunt, the Rams (25-10, 6-4 MW) struck first with an O’Connor single up the middle, bringing in both runners.
“A lot of us had been popping up,” she said. “I was looking to get something on the ground or a line drive, and to hit it hard.”
O’Connor finished the game with three RBI, and has now reached base in 17 straight contests.
The Rams weren’t done in the fifth, though. Following O’Connor’s base knock, Danielle Wikre was hit by a pitch, setting up a two-on, two-out at-bat for senior Ashlie Ortega.
The senior rocketed one to left-center, scoring O’Connor from third and Wikre from first. Ortega was plated moments later on a base hit down the left-field line by senior Alysa Greckel.
After posting just two hits through the first four frames, CSU tallied five runs and four hits in the fifth inning alone.
“I thought we were a little over-anxious at the beginning,” Fisher said. “We tried to stay calm and take a few more pitches, and once we started to see some results the momentum kept us going.”
The Wolf Pack got on the board with a solo home run in the sixth – Reinke’s lone blemish on an otherwise terrific outing – but the Rams got two back in the bottom of the sixth with Kendal Butterfield’s second home run of the season and an O’Connor sacrifice fly, scoring Rodriguez, who tripled.
Rodriguez had two hits on the day, also doubling.
As for Reinke, the sophomore tossed her 13th complete game of the year and notched her 14th win (14-5). She lowered her Mountain West-leading ERA to 1.88, allowing just one earned run while striking out seven.
She also had the help from her defense. Several players made nice plays, including a diving stab by Hutton – completed with a nice pick from Greckel at first – and an inning-ending double play.
“Haley’s play saved a run, easily,” Fisher said. “We turned a double play and our defense was clicking. Holly was also doing her job, for sure”
With the win, CSU is guaranteed its third straight winning season. The Rams have also matched last year’s win total, doing so in 14 fewer games.
They return to the field Friday for Game 2 of the series vs. Nevada. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT. The game is marketed as a Pink Out, and players will wear pink uniforms for breast cancer awareness. Admission to the game is free.
“We got a good look at their hitters,” Fisher said on the rest of the series. “They are definitely aggressive, and they battle. We really just saw one of their pitchers; they have two more really good pitchers, so we’re trying not to get over-confident.”
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