May 4, 2014
FRESNO, Calif. – Playing in a must-win game in order to keep its conference title hopes alive, the Colorado State softball team earned a big win Sunday, beating conference-leading Fresno State, 8-7, on the Bulldogs’ senior day.
The Rams (31-15, 12-9 MW) now sit two games out of first place with a three-game series vs. San José State remaining.
“Ever since we went 0-3 during our first conference series at Utah State we’ve looked at all of our conference games as must-wins,” Head Coach Jen Fisher said. “Today was no different for us. The girls approached everything the same, and played a really good game.”
For the third time in the series, the Rams got out to an early lead, scoring twice in the first inning on a Chelsea O’Connor home run. They extended the lead to four the following inning, scoring twice on four hits.
“Shae (Rodriguez) had a big offensive game for us, and her getting on base before Chelsea’s home run gave us a big lift early,” Fisher said.
Fresno State cut the deficit to one, 4-3, in the bottom half of the inning – scoring three times – and tied the score at 4-4 after four innings of play.
That’s when the Rams’ offense took over again, scoring once in the fifth and three times in the sixth.
Freshman second baseman led off the sixth inning with a double to left-center and scored on a defensive error. Two more runs came in on an Alysa Greckel triple to right field.
The eight runs were the most Fresno State has allowed at home in more than two years.
On Friday and Saturday, Fresno State came from behind to beat CSU after trailing early. The Bulldogs attempted to do it again Sunday, having five batters reach base in the final inning.
With the Rams on top, 8-4, the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out. The next three batters reached base on a walk, fielder’s choice and single, respectively, to cut the score to 8-7.
With two outs and the tying run at second and the winning run at first, Holly Reinke and the Rams closed the door, getting Fresno State’s Kapri Angotti to ground out to Chelsea Biglow at third base.
“I think we faced every situation that we’ve gone through in practice,” Fisher said. “It’s good to know that we’ve prepared for the right things, and I think it helped us today. We were in a high-pressure situation with a large crowd, and our players were very composed.”
The Rams out-hit Fresno State, 14-6 in the win, including three from Rodriguez, and two each from Kendal Butterfield, Greckel, O’Connor and Ashlie Ortega.
Reinke earned her 19th win of the season, tossing a complete game and striking out three. She allowed four earned runs.
“Holly was again great,” Fisher said. “She’s reliable every time we put her out there, and today she again delivered.”
With one week remaining in the regular season, the Rams are fighting for their first conference championship since 2004. The race will come down to the wire, with the possibility of a five-way tie for first still in play.
“Again, we’ve been approaching all of our games as must-wins, so this weekend will be no different,” Fisher said. “It’ll be good to have the series in front of our home fans. We’re in the hunt going into the final week, and that’s what you want. Our players are peaking at the right time, including the seniors.”
The three-game series vs. the Spartans begins Thursday afternoon. Admission to Ram Field is free. Additionally, all games will be streamed for free through the Mountain West Network.
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