What started off as a grand slam of a series with the Fresno State softball team up two games over Boise State heading into Sunday morning’s game, ended in unassumed fashion as the Broncos defeated the Bulldogs 2-1 in nine innings at Margie Wright Diamond.
The ‘Dogs were untouched by the rain and the Broncos in Friday’s game after mercying the Broncos 9-0 in just 41/2 innings.
Fresno State junior pitcher Savannah McHellon and sophomore outfielder Vanessa Hernandez each hit a grand slam in consecutive innings for the first time in program history giving the Bulldogs the edge.
“It’s always great when you can get some offensive performance, especially in these type of conditions,” head coach Linda Garza said. “For us to be able to get that big hit when we needed to in those critical situations to make this a quick game is definitely something we’re proud of.”
Sophomore Kamalani Dung pitched a five-inning shutout, giving up just three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in 19 batters faced.
“You leave a lot of things when weather comes in,” Garza said. “You never know if a pitcher is not going to be able to manage the game and manage throwing strikes, so I thought Kamalani did an amazing job.”
Execution at the plate and smart base running in Saturday’s 8-2 victory allowed Fresno State to clinch the series over Boise State. The Bulldogs walked nine times with five sacrifices and seven RBIs on just three hits, including an inside-the-park homer by freshman Miranda Rohleder.
“Sacrifice flies and a squeeze gave us momentum in a game where we couldn’t get the ball to fall for hits,” Garza said.
McHellon pitched the full seven innings, giving up five hits with one earned run and striking out five batters. The junior tossed 99 pitches, 63 fewer than the three Boise State pitchers combined.
With 11 left on base in Sunday’s game, in what seemed to be the opposite of the previous game as far as executing, the ‘Dogs were unable to complete the sweep, despite a career-high nine innings pitched by Dung in their 2-1 loss in extra innings to the conference matchup Broncos.
The right-handed pitcher allowed just two runs – one earned – on four hits, striking out five and walking none.
“After today, it’s kind of just a learning experience and just work on getting better in practice this week,” Dung said. “When I’m pitching in like the ninth inning, 10th inning, I try less for the strikeouts and I go more for saving my arm and just letting the fielders do some work. Easy ground balls. That’s what I’m trying to do. Short innings, four pitches, that’s the goal.”
Senior outfielder Kierra Willis was walked twice in the final game of the series and three times in Saturday’s competition, leaving her tied for second place on Fresno State’s all-time walk lists with 111 career walks and 21 on the season. Willis needs four more walks to break the program record for career walks.
“We need to be able to get the bunt down. We need to be able to keep the ball down when it’s a tight game and just better execute at the plate,” Garza said. “We had opportunities with runners in scoring position throughout the game, and we just weren’t able to make the adjustments that we need to make if we want to win a conference championship.”
The Bulldogs (22-11, 4-2 MW) take on the Pacific Tigers (17-17) at home on Wednesday, March 29, at 6 p.m.