On the opening night of the 2020 Fresno State Kickoff Classic, the Fresno State softball team powered right through the visiting Cal Poly Mustangs and Fordham Rams.
The Bulldogs hit a combined total of seven triples, a no-doubt home run and 21 RBIs (runs batted in). Four of the seven triples came against the Mustangs, which tied the program record for the most triples in a single game. That record was set back in 2015 when the Bulldogs played against Rutgers.
“We’re playing well enough that we are seeing the ball and we’re making the adjustments that we need to. I think it’s a combination of things we work on at practice and executing that on game day,” said head coach Linda Garza on the team’s explosion of power hitting. “I definitely enjoyed what I saw tonight.”
Fresno State’s starting pitcher for the opening night game against Cal Poly was redshirt freshman Darina Orme. Omre pitched for four innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs. Her offense made her night easy by giving her a 3-0 lead by the second inning.
The Bulldogs ended their offensive woes in the third inning. After being walked, Hayleigh Galvan was subbed out and in came Aaliyah Cuevas to pinch run.
Cuevas used her speed to take an extra bag on a groundout from Kelcey Carrasco, leading to a bunt by Miranda Rohleder.The ball got away from Cal Poly’s Danielle Reyes, and Cuevas was able to score from third base. Rohleder stole an extra bag off the error from Reyes, putting the Dogs’ in scoring position again.
After a great hustle play from senior Kaitlyn Jennings, the corners were filled as freshman Alesia Denby came up to bat. Denby line drives a single into right field, scoring both Rohleder and Jennings, making the score 6-1.
With two outs, the Bulldogs continued to rally and add on to their lead. After scoring on a wild pitch, Schulyer Broussard added more runs by hitting a triple to make it a 9-1 game.
The Fresno State Kickoff’s 8-run rule went into effect, leaving the Bulldogs victorious after five innings with the final score at 13-1.
The big difference-maker for the Bulldogs on offense against the Mustangs was Denby. She went two for three, hitting a triple and recording a team-high four RBIs.
This was a breakout performance for the freshman infielder.
When the team traveled out to Florida for the South Florida Tournament, Denby was quiet with the bat. Denby only had two hits the entire weekend in Florida and eight strikeouts.
“She did an amazing job, the kid has amazing power. I’m glad to see her confidence at the plate,” said Garza on Denby’s performance.
Following Fresno State’s landslide victory against the Mustangs, there was a noticeable difference between the Cal Poly game and the Fordham game. Fresno State had a lead on the Mustangs throughout that game, but Fordham gained an edge early and regained the lead.
“Fordham is a scrappy team, their pitcher made some adjustments and did a good job,” Garza said. “We were on our heels for a little bit.”
The Bulldogs recorded zero hits and were down by three runs leading up to the third inning. McKenzie Wilson broke that dry spell with a single past Fordham’s shortstop to load the bases.
Following Wilson’s single, Kelsey Hall grounded out to get the Bulldogs on the board with a run. With awoken up offense, Broussard launched a triple to center field, clearing the bases to tie the game.
Wilson came up clutch once again in the fifth inning when she gave the Bulldogs the lead off a triple down the right-field line. Broussard would ground out following the triple to score Wilson, making it a 5-3 game.
To put the game on ice, sophomore Vanessa M. Hernandez came in to pinch-hit in the sixth inning after Jennings reached second base on an interference call. Hernandez, on a 1-1 count, launched a no-doubt home run to left field, putting the Bulldogs up 7-3.
Fresno State swept through the opening night of the Fresno State Kickoff Classic with the final score against Fordham being 8-4.
The Bulldogs will face Fordham and Cal on Saturday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.