Dominant pitching and one big offensive inning was the winning recipe for the Bulldogs’ softball team Thursday evening as Fresno State handily defeated the Boise State Broncos 5-0.
Bulldogs right-handed hurler Hailey Dolcini was on top of her game from the start, working quickly through a Broncos lineup that was batting .336 as a team entering the contest and was averaging a robust seven runs per game.
Dolcini kept the Broncos off of the bases for most of the contest. She ran into trouble only twice in the game, allowing two runners to reach base in both the third and fourth innings, but both times the ‘Dogs ace answered the bell, navigating through without any damage.
In the top of the third, Dolcini hit a batter and walked another before inducing the Broncos’ Rebekah Cervantes to ground out and end the inning.
Boise State’s Kora Wade, who came into the game leading the Mountain West (MW) in batting average at .433, had only struck out a miniscule seven times the entire season. Dolcini set Wade down on strikes three times Thursday..
Dolcini said that attacking the strike zone early in the count was the biggest key to her success, and that her defense behind her gave her confidence to make the pitches she needed to.
“Everything was just really moving today and it definitely helped having the defense behind me,” Dolcini said. “I was able to work ahead and getting that first pitch strike was huge for me because then they couldn’t know what was coming. Movement and hitting my spots was beneficial.”
Dolcini now boasts a 16-6 record with a 1.94 ERA in 133.1 innings pitched.
Offensively, it wasn’t as if she needed a lot of support, but she sure did get some in the third inning.
After being held down the first two innings by Broncos starting pitcher Gianna Mancha, the ‘Dogs erupted by sending eight batters to the plate, scoring five times.
After catcher Kelcey Carrasco led off the frame with a line-drive double to left field, junior outfielder Kaitlyn Jennings reached base on an infield single. Later in the inning, freshman outfielder McKenzie Wilson doubled home Carrasco and the floodgates suddenly opened for the ‘Dogs’ offense.
Junior infielder Miranda Rohleder singled home a pair to make the score 3-0. But the ‘Dogs were far from satisfied. Fresno State added two more, including one on a smart baserunning play by Rohleder, who scored from second on an infield single by Hayleigh Galvan when the Broncos failed to cover home plate.
Senior infielder Rachel Minogue chased home Galvan from first on a line-drive double through the right-center field gap, and the score ended up at the ‘Dogs’ final tally of five.
Head coach Lind Garza said that the big inning was a result of finding ways to have good at-bats and string hits together.
“We were able to get some infield hits, and we got a big hit from McKenzie Wilson that kind of got the scoring going and to have back-to-back hits on that, that was big,” Garza said.
Dolcini made it stand even after allowing two more runners on base in the form of two one-out base hits by the Broncos. The traffic on the bases didn’t seem to faze the pitcher one bit as she recorded a strikeout and fielded a comebacker to end the inning.
Dolcini would not allow another baserunner as she finished out the shutout and the win.
The Bulldogs will close out the regular season with the series finale against Boise State on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Margie Wright Diamond.