Matt Weir / The Collegian
Bulldog Diamond was home to nothing but wins over the weekend team to kick off the season
Fresno State softball officially began last Friday as the Bulldog’s bats came alive against Santa Clara.
The Bulldog’s defeated the visiting Broncos 10-1 and 12-1 in the evening’s doubleheader.
From start to finish in the opening game, the ‘Dogs proved to a full crowd and future opponents they come to play both offensively and defensively.
Freshman slugger Hannah Williams kicked off her Bulldog career in stellar fashion, drawing in two RBIs in her first at bat, then blasting a three-run home run in the third inning of a shortened run-rule game.
Morgan Melloh, who enters this season with high expectations, did not disappoint on opening night, pitching a shutout for the first four innings before giving up a solo home run to Santa Clara’s Briana Knight in the final inning of play. Melloh tallied 13 strikeouts on only 88 total pitches and gave up only four hits, beginning her junior season 1-0.
Sophomores Jody Badorine and Michelle Moses also came up big at the plate, each hitting a perfect 3-for-3. Despite the shortened game, the ‘Dogs were able to fill the stat sheet with 11 hits on 22 at bats.
The win also marked head coach Margie Wright’s 600th career win at Bulldog Diamond to begin her 25th season as the Fresno State softball leader.
Friday’s game two proved to be much of the same, as the ‘Dogs’ displayed its offensive firepower, scoring seven runs in the first inning en route to another 12-1 run-rule shortened contest.
This time, sophomore Mackenzie Oakes took the mound. She gave up only two hits and a fourth inning solo home run. Melloh and Oakes’ season debuts left Wright pleased with their early season success.
“I thought they both did very well, especially for their first game,” Wright said. “I think they both would like to have their homerun pitches back, and those are things we have to correct, and it might be a 0-0 game next time.”
On the offensive side, sophomore catcher Kaitlin Griffin, seeing the first action of her career at her position, hit a first inning grand slam. The four-run jack was Griffin’s third hit of her Bulldog career.
All 18 Bulldogs saw action on the night in the routs over Santa Clara and head coach Lisa Mize, a Fresno State softball product who pitched under Wright during her collegiate playing days.
“I think everybody was so ready to play,” Wright said. “Unfortunately for one of my former athletes coaching [Santa Clara], it was tough that we took it out on them; but tomorrow we have to be better than tonight. If we can continue to get better with every game, I think we’re going to do some decent damage this year.”
The opening game of the Fresno State Kick-Off tournament, held Saturday and Sunday, was led by Bulldog ace Morgan Melloh who threw her first career no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Pacific.
Melloh pitched 10 strikeouts with three walks in a defensive battle along the way to being the 17th ‘Dog in Fresno State softball history to pitch a no-hitter.
Catcher Caitlin Stiglich provided the winning RBI at the bottom of the second inning, drawing in Andrea Ortega on a double.
Saturday’s second contest came against Sacramento State in another down-to-the wire-game, where the ‘Dogs prevailed 3-2.
The ‘Dogs fell behind early, 2-0, facing its first deficit of the season. But Michelle Moses came up clutch in the bottom of the seventh inning, drawing in Brooke Phipps on a single to provide the 3-2 margin.
The final day of the opening weekend began as exciting as the first two days as third baseman Nicole Angene hit an eighth inning walk-off solo home run to defeat Pacific 1-0.
Angene’s bomb bounced over the fence onto Cedar Avenue as she rounded the bases in what she said was her biggest moment thus far as a Bulldog.
Morgan Melloh took the mound and followed up Saturday’s no-hitter with a nine-hit shutout.
Early on, Melloh and the ‘Dogs were able to hold off a hot Tiger squad, who held Frenso State hitless until the third inning.
Opening weekend concluded with yet another Bulldog milestone, as Mackenzie Oakes pitched the second no-hitter of the weekend in a 6-0 shutout over Sacramento State. Oakes, however, was too focused on the game itself to realize her Sunday accomplishment.
“Honestly, I had no idea that was going on,” Oakes said. “My mindset is just going out there and getting everyone out.”
It hasn’t been since 2000 that two diamond ‘Dogs have pitched no-hitters in the same season, giving Oakes confidence that the duo of herself and Melloh, along with the red-hot offense, are this year’s team to beat.
“I just think our team was coming out here and we were ready to fight and win and take out everyone,” Oakes said. “We have something to prove this year.”
Haley Gilleland also etched herself in the Bulldog record books, moving into second place all-time on the Fresno State stolen bases list with 41.
The ‘Dogs scored three runs in the first inning of play, and finished strong with solo runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.