Fresno State softball struggles against Oregon pitching

Fresno State's Adrianna Noriega hits the ball in the second inning of the game against Oregon at Margie Wright Diamond on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. (Kameron Thorn /The Collegian)

At the beginning of the season, Fresno State softball head coach Linda Garza embraced what she called “the Bulldog way.”

“We’re not scared of anybody… I just think it’s the Bulldog way: anyone, anytime, anyplace.”  Garza said.

And while the Bulldogs may be ready, they weren’t able to deliver against teams like No. 1 UCLA and Loyola Marymount University. 

And when No. 10 Oregon (6-0)  came into town, Fresno State (2-3) struggled to figure out Ducks’ starting pitcher Brooke Yanez in Saturday night’s 10-2 loss.

After a shaky first inning where she gave up two runs, Yanez settled in. The junior pitcher threw six innings of shutout softball  and recorded 15 consecutive outs.

“We didn’t struggle early,” Garza said. “I think she settled in and she found ways to get us to swing to pitches that weren’t ours. We got frustrated and got bigger than ourselves and she was able to take advantage of us.”

But Garza said that playing tough opponents like Oregon will prepare them for conference play and beyond.

“We go into every season expecting to be in the postseason and contend for a championship,” Garza said. “If we can put somebody on our schedule that we’ll potentially play in the postseason, it gives us a chance to see where we are and where we need to go.”

Fresno State pitcher Danielle Lung  found herself in a tough situation in the first inning. She walked Oregon center fielder Haley Cruse to begin the game. Cruse later advanced to second on a passed ball. 

Catcher Terra McGowan advanced her to third with a single before Cruse scored on a fielder’s choice to put Oregon up 1-0 in the top of the first. That’s all the damage the Ducks caused. 

Similarly, Yanez struggled with her control early, throwing seven straight balls and giving walks to Kaitlyn Jennings and Miranda Rohleder. Kelcey Carrasco then singled to right, bringing Jennings in to tie the game. Rohelder later scored on a wild pitch to give Fresno State a 2-1 lead at the bottom of the first.

After getting on the board, Lung returned to the circle looking to preserve Fresno State’s 2-1 lead. Instead, Oregon countered back with five runs in the top of the second.

Lung began the inning with Alyssa Brito hitting a solo home run to left-center field. Then she managed to get the first out off a groundout to second base. She would then load the bases after a few walks and a single by Ariel Carlson. With the bases loaded, Cruse then scored in a run off a sacrifice fly to right field as well as moving a runner from second to the third base. Her teammate, Terra McGowan, then blasted a single past the infield to score the third run of the inning. 

With two runners on, Rachel Cid delivered the knockout punch to Lung by hitting a double to right center field to clear the bases.

Lung was then pulled out of the game with two outs still on the board. Dariana Orme came in to relief and managed to get out of the inning off a fly ball to right field. She would stay in as the pitcher for the rest of the game.

Yanez was able to regain her composure, only allowing one hit in the bottom of the second and keeping the 6-2 lead for Oregon.

Orme, back on the mound, gave up a leadoff single down the middle to Brito. Orme recorded two outs, both on fielder choices. 

With Fielder now at first, Carlson doubled to right. With runners on the corners and two outs, Wagner cleared the bases by singling to right field to, putting Oregon up 8-2. Orme struck out Cruse to end the top of the third. 

Yanez retired the side in the end of the third inning. 

Fresno State had its first three-up-three-down inning. Orme struck out two batters to end the top of the fourth, still trailing Oregon 8-2.

But the Bulldogs’ bats couldn’t find a response for Yanez, as she retired the side again, recording six straight outs.

With a runner on third and two outs, Carlson stepped up to the plate and sent a lined ball to right field, but Hannah Galey used her speed and dove to catch the ball, recording the out and keeping Oregon at 8-2.

Fresno State could not capitalize on the momentum from Galey’s catch, as Yanez once again had a three-up-three-down inning with nine straight outs through the bottom of the fifth. 

Oregon didn’t score again until the bottom of the seventh inning when Brito brought in Hanna Delgado on an RBI triple. Just a pair of batters later, Carlson singled in Brito to make it 10-2.

Yanez finished the game by striking out the side, improving Oregon to 6-0.

Fresno State will play Oregon again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. in its final game of the Fresno State kickoff classic.

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