Freshman Danielle East won her first collegiate game against Stanford on Feb. 10, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. The ‘Dogs will host the Bulldog Classic this weekend at Margie Wright Diamond. (Fresno State Athletics)

Season opens at Kajikawa Classic

The Fresno State women’s softball team opened its season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona last weekend. The ‘Dogs came out 3-2 after facing five Power-5 schools.

They dropped their first game against No. 3 Oregon, 8-0, last Friday morning.

The Ducks finished last season as a national semifinalist in the Women’s College World Series and returned their entire pitching staff with a combined 54-8 record.

One of those pitchers, Miranda Elish, held the ‘Dogs to one hit and a walk while she threw nine strikeouts in the contest. That lone hit came from senior Savannah McHellon in the first inning.

Five ‘Dogs made their Fresno State debuts in the game, including starting pitcher Danielle East. The freshman gave up six hits and four runs in her first two innings.

Sophomore Samantha Mejia relieved East. She, too, gave up four runs, including her first pitch that turned into a home run.

Fresno State is now 3-2 in its last five season openers, with both losses to Oregon in Tempe. The Bulldogs moved on to play two more Pac-12 teams on Saturday – Stanford and No. 7 Arizona.

Back on the mound for the ‘Dogs, East threw a complete game shutout to help notch a 2-0 win against Stanford as well as her first collegiate win. Unable to score, the Cardinal and the Bulldogs went into extra-innings.

On a 2-0 pitch in the eighth inning, junior Vanessa Hernandez launched a 2-run home run to secure the ‘Dogs’ first win of the season.

Unable to win the day, Fresno State lost 13-1 to Arizona.

The Wildcats won the Pac-12 championship last season as they led the NCAA Div. I with 94 home runs and a .583 slugging percentage.

Arizona built an early lead after hitting three home runs and four doubles by the second inning, including Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino’s 2-run home run.

All-American Harper continued her reign with another 2-run home run to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 11-0 at the top of the fourth inning.

The ‘Dogs got on the board in the bottom of the fourth after a leadoff single by sophomore Hayleigh Galvan. Junior Dominique Jackson then sent pinch runner Brooke Coates home with an RBI double to right center.

The Wildcats finished strong with another run to secure their 13-1 win. Heading into Sunday, the ‘Dogs kicked off their last day with a 13-4 win over Purdue.

Senior Katie Castellon, McHellon,  junior Rachel Minogue and sophomore Schuylar Broussard each knocked in a home run to help secure the win over the Boilermakers.

Fresno State improved to 7-0 all-time against Purdue.

The ‘Dogs concluded the classic with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish jumped to an early 4-0 lead after a pair of 2-run home runs. Trailing, the ‘Dogs cut that score in half after sophomore Miranda Rohleder singled up the middle to record two RBIs.

Pitcher Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings took over for Mejia in the circle and went on to throw 4-and-a-third scoreless innings and nine strikeouts to hold Notre Dame.

McHellon and Galvan then homered to tie the game, 4-4.

Relieving Kennedy-Cummings with bases loaded, East held the Fighting Irish in the final inning with a strikeout, lineout and groundout.  

In the bottom of the seventh, Castellon walked-off with a home run to secure the ‘Dogs’ 5-4 win and end the classic.

“In our first weekend finally being on the field with everyone, I was very happy with how we played. Of course we had our ups and downs, but it’s early, and I thought, overall, it was a good start to our season. We were able to see the fight this team has, and I can’t wait to see us grow over the season,” Castellon said.

Fresno State will host the Bulldogs Classic this weekend at Margie Wright Diamond.