Sophomore Miranda Rohleder as she rounds second base after a triple in the third inning. The 'Dogs wrapped up the Bulldog Classic at Margie Wright Stadium on Feb. 18, 2018. (Alejandro Soto/ The Collegian)
Fresno State softball wrapped up Bulldog Classic this weekend, winning four of five games including a victory on Sunday when they defeated St. Mary’s 3-2 on a strong pitching performance by junior Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings.
Kennedy-Cummings was dominant from the very first pitch of the ballgame. She kept St. Mary’s off of the scoreboard even after allowing runners to reach second and third base in the top of third inning with two out.
Like she was able to do all game, Kennedy-Cummings induced a ground ball to shortstop to end the inning and not allow any damage.
With the momentum squarely in the Bulldogs’ dugout, the offense put on its hitting shoes and went to work with the bats.
Sophomore infielder Miranda Rohleder started off the third in style with a leadoff triple, giving the Bulldogs their best opportunity to score to that point.
Senior infielder Katie Castellon smacked a line-drive base hit to right field to give Fresno State a 1-0 lead. But the fun didn’t stop there.
After a strikeout by infielder Savannah Mchellon, junior outfielder Vanessa Hernandez kept the line moving as she belted yet another base hit to right field, allowing Castellon to advance from first to third.
With two runners on, slugging catcher Hayleigh Galvan took advantage of the chance to drive in runs, crushing a line drive double into the right center field gap, allowing Castellon and Hernandez to touch the plate and give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
Kennedy-Cummings said that having her team score three runs allowed her to be relaxed when she went back out to pitch.
“It doesn’t mean that I let up. It just means that my defense is working and that it’s kind of going in our favor,” Kennedy-Cummings said.
The three runs were all that the Bulldogs were able to put up in the inning and in the game, and head coach Linda Garza said she felt her team could have put the game away then.
“I wish I would have seen a little bit more from our offense because I think we are capable of more runs, and I’d like to see us use this opportunity to develop and put our foot on the gas pedal when we have chances,” Garza said after the game.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position that we didn’t capitalize on,” Garza added.
Kennedy-Cummings didn’t seem to mind as she took over the game and cruised all the way to the seventh inning, but then the star hurler ran into some traffic on the bases again.
After an error allowed two runs to score, freshman pitcher Danielle East entered the game and recorded the final two outs to seal the victory.
“I think that I did really well keeping my composure, and I just kept positive and to what I was capable of doing and that my defense would have my back,” Kennedy-Cummings said. “I really didn’t think that we were going to lose or that it would be my fault. I just kind of stayed within myself and winning and my team.”
On Friday, the Bulldogs had bested California State University, Bakersfield on the strength of two home runs, including a grand slam, by McHellon to earn an 8-0 mercy-rule win in five innings.
McHellon hit her first home run, a solo shot to left field, in the third inning to score the first run for the Bulldogs.
Fresno State then added six runs in the fourth inning thanks in large part to McHellon’s grand slam, busting the game wide open.
Later that evening, a game against UC Davis was a polar opposite. The Bulldogs lost the game 2-0 in a pitcher’s duel between the ‘Dogs’ Danielle East and the Aggies’ Brooke Yanez.
After both teams went scoreless in the first inning, UC Davis loaded the bases in the top of the second and scored a run on a fielder’s choice groundout, making the score 1-0.
Fresno State was unable to answer even though the team got runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings. East pitched out of two bases-loaded jams without allowing any runs, but UC Davis doubled its lead in the seventh on a hit-by-pitch followed by an RBI double by Ashley Lotoszynski.
The Bulldogs put together a rally in the bottom of the inning by drawing a pair of walks and a wild pitch that put the tying runs at second and third base with two out. The Aggies were able to hold on by the skin of their teeth by inducing a fly out to end the game.
“I’m glad we were able to pull out the Ws and get the wins that we needed,” Garza said. “We won four games and found ways to get on top. We’re still developing, and we still are a team that’s a work in progress. The goal is to get to a place that we can compete for a conference title.”
Up next for the Bulldogs is the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs from Feb 23-25 in which the team will play five games including against No. 5 ranked UCLA and No. 7 ranked LSU.