Fresno State’s softball team swept a three-game series April 6-8, defeating the Utah State Aggies at home and taking the second spot in the Mountain West Conference.
“Winning this series was huge because now we’re second in the Mountain West…I’m really excited, especially playing San Jose State this coming weekend,” pitcher Danielle East said. “[My success] comes from taking it batter-by-batter and inning-by-inning. That’s really worked to my advantage.”
The starting time during the first game Friday afternoon was moved up to 2:30 p.m. due to possible rain. The Bulldogs started the game with East in the pitching circle. During the first two innings, neither team had success against the starting pitchers.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the third when Fresno State scored two runs thanks to Vanessa Hernandez, who doubled and drove in Rachel Minogue, and Schuylar Broussard then singled to left field to bring in Hernandez.
East continued pitching, striking out two more Aggies in the fifth, but she allowed one run during the sixth.
The Bulldogs scored three in the the fifth, and once in the sixth to take a 6-1 lead. Fresno State took the first game of the series by that score. East, only allowed five hits, one run and struck out 10 in seven innings.
Game 2 on Saturday started with Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings in the pitching circle. Kennedy-Cummings struggled in the first inning, allowing three runs.
She was able to regain control and get out of the first, but in the third, head coach Linda Garza took her out and brought in Samantha Mejia to finish the inning without allowing any runs.
The Bulldogs’ offense chipped away at the Aggies’ defense by getting one run in the first and another in the second. Fresno State tied the game in the fifth inning thanks to a triple by Kaitlyn Jennings, who managed to get home on a throwing error.
Mejia only allowed one hit, no runs and struck out six in five innings. The Bulldogs took the lead in the sixth inning when Dominique Jackson hit a pop-fly to center that brought in Hernandez from third.
The Bulldogs took a tough Game 2 in the series with a score of 4-3 and were set up to sweep with Sunday’s game.
In the last game of the series, Garza decided to start East after a one-day rest, and much like her first outing, she had an outstanding performance. East wouldn’t be the game’s biggest weapon however. That would be the Bulldogs’ offense.
The offense took charge early in the game by scoring eight runs in the first inning and then six more in the second. Some of the biggest performers on offense were Miranda Rohleder, who scored three times in, and Hayleigh Galvan, who scored twice with one being a solo home run.
East pitched three innings, allowing only two hits and striking out seven. She was replaced in the fourth by Savannah Berkowitz. Even though Berkowitz allowed one run in the fourth, she managed to finish the game with the lead.
Fresno State scored one more in the fourth, adding to the lead and a final score of 15-1. The Bulldogs now have seven wins in a row and have good momentum going into next week’s roadtrip to first-place San Jose State.
“I feel like all weekend we found ways to get the hits when we needed to, and today we capitalized on some mistakes that they made, and we were able to put runs on the board,” Garza said. “I think our pitching performances are allowing us to stay competitive and allowing our offense to put runs on the board.”