Fresno State softball dominates Fresno State Kickoff Classic

Freshman Alesia Denby (5) at-bat against Cal Poly during the Fresno State Kickoff Classic on Feb. 14, 2020 (Vendila Yang/The Collegian)

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the bases were loaded for freshman Alesia Denby. With one strike in the count, Denby took a hefty swing at the ball. At the crack of the bat, St. Mary’s infielders and Fresno State’s baserunners all looked up in the air to follow the ball. Bulldog players and the Red Wave that were in attendance started jumping in excitement. 

The freshman had just hit a walk-off grand slam to force the run-rule and clinch victory against the visiting St. Mary Gaels 10-0, leaving the Bulldogs undefeated on the weekend.

“One thing that was awesome was just being able to come out to Margie Wright Diamond and see all the people that were here,” said Bulldogs head coach Linda Garza. “We’re super grateful to be able to have that kind of showing. It was one hell of a weekend of offense. I’m super proud of our dogs.”

The grand slam was only one piece of Denby’s dominant performance against the Gaels. Denby finished the game 3-for-4 with two triples, a grand slam, two runs and eight RBIs (runs batted in). She was just one RBI short of breaking the Mountain West (MW) record for the most RBIs in a single game.

Fresno State’s Lindsey Willmon set the MW record back in 2016 against Boise State.

“It feels really good,” said Denby on her first collegiate grand slam. “Last weekend I really didn’t do well, but I just wanted to bounce back and do it for my team. I think it was just really fun to be at [Margie Wright Diamond].”

Along with Denby hitting the game-winning dagger, she also sealed a combined no-hitter for starting pitcher Haley Dolcini and Danielle East. 

Dolicini threw for five innings, allowed four walks and struck out six Gaels’ batters while East threw one shutout inning. The last time Fresno State threw a no-hitter was in East’s freshman year against the University of New Mexico, where she struck out a career-high 15 batters.

“The first inning was a rough start trying to figure out what the strike zone was going to be like all day,” Garza said. “Finally, I felt like she settled in and managed to scatter the balls that were being contacted.”

The Bulldogs swept their five-game tournament defeating the likes of Cal Poly and Fordham on Friday, Fordham again and Cal on Saturday and St. Mary’s for the final game of the tournament.

The second game against Fordham on Saturday ended 10-1 in five innings with the run-rule enforced. Senior Haley Fuller was the offensive leader against Fordham, hitting two hits in two at-bats, a three-run home run, a single and four RBIs.

Redshirt freshman Dariana Orme held the Rams scoreless through four full innings and recorded two strikeouts and two hits. 

Against Cal, senior Miranda Rohleder went 2-for-3 with a home run, a single and two RBIs. As a team, Fresno State tied its season-high of 11 hits against Cal.

Starting pitcher Danielle Lung held Cal scoreless up until the fourth inning. Cal started off the inning hitting three consecutive hits and scoring two runs. Cal would tally its final run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Lung pitched a full five innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs with two walks and two strikeouts.

Orme would come in to pitch the final two innings holding Cal hitless and scoreless while throwing four strikeouts. 

Fresno State went on to beat Cal 9-3.

The ‘Dogs’ offense finished the Fresno State Kickoff scoring 50 runs, 47 hits, 46 RBIs, 12 triples, four home runs and a team batting average of .379. Denby also had her breakout at the classic, logging nine hits in 15 at-bats, nine runs, four triples, one grand slam, 13 RBIs and a weekend batting average of .600.

Denby’s weekend performance also earned her the MW softball player of the week. This is Denby’s first career accolade.

Following the dominant home opener weekend, Fresno State traveled to the Bay Area to take on the Stanford Cardinals. The Cardinals managed to tie the Bulldogs in the 6th inning and force extra innings. With the bases loaded, the Cardinals hit a walk-off grand slam to defeat the ‘Dogs 7-3.

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