May 2, 2012
By Meredith Danner
Athletic Media Relations
GREELEY, Colo. – The Rams played their final non-conference game of the year on Wednesday, facing in-state rival Northern Colorado for the fourth and final time this season. CSU won the first three matchups by a combined 24-8 margin and completed the season sweep with a 6-5 come-from-behind win at Butler-Hancock Field.
CSU improved to 26-22 overall (5-4 Mountain West) and will finish the season with a 7-10 road record, while the Bears closed out their regular season with a 25-28 record (10-10 Pacific Coast Softball Conference). With just three games remaining on the schedule, CSU is guaranteed their first winning season since 2010, when the team went 29-20. “Having the fight that we did was great,” CSU Head Coach Jen Fisher said.
“We definitely wouldn’t have wanted to sit for a little over a week thinking about not having come through in that situation, so I think it’ll definitely be a confidence builder for them. They had a lot of fight.”
Four of Northern Colorado’s pitchers faced the CSU lineup, including starter Kelci Cheney. The Rams scored three of their six runs during Cheney’s three innings of work. CSU sophomore Emily knocked in the first with an RBI single in the top of the first. Freshman Shae Rodriguez drove in two more with a single up the middle to break a 1-1 tie.
“They just really brought a good strategy,” Fisher said about UNC’s pitching effort. “I think it’s good for us to have to adjust to a lot of different pitchers, and so they definitely were a big challenge for us today.”
15-game winner Kacie McCarthy made her 20th start in the circle and held the Bears to one run and four hits through the first four innings. UNC stormed back in the fifth, however, putting up four runs with an RBI triple, two-run home run and RBI single to take a 5-3 lead over the Rams. CSU senior Kelli Eubanks replaced McCarthy and pitched 1.2 innings of one-hit, shutout relief to pick up her second win of the year.
“Kelli’s been ready for that role quite a bit so far this year,” Fisher said. “I thought she did a great job. She was really focused and was throwing hard. She absolutely gave us exactly what we needed at that moment.”
Facing a two-run deficit in the seventh, the Rams loaded the bases to start the inning. Pohl then reached on an error by UNC shortstop Kaitlin Flynn, bringing in Haley David from third. Alysa Greckel came to bat next and reached on a fielder’s choice. Rodriguez scored on the play, followed by sophomore Ashlie Ortega, who came around on Flynn’s second error of the inning. Rodriguez and Pohl both drove in two runs in the game and rank first and second on the team in RBI, respectively.
“They’re both just really tough and very competitive,” Fisher said. “They continue to have this calm aggressiveness at the plate about them. A lot of our other hitters have had a little bit more ups and downs this year, and I think Shae and Emily have just been very steady in that role.”
The Rams have the next week off before facing Mountain West-rival New Mexico on May 10 to begin their final three games of the season. First pitch at Ram Field in Fort Collins is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT.
“We have to keep fighting and keep pushing and keep having the same approach,” Fisher said. “The best teams are going to be the teams that have everybody 100% focused.”
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