Bulldog Softball suffers poor start in early season play

Alana Cobb-Adams at bat in the game against UCF on March 9, 2022 at Margie Wright Diamond. (Melina Kazanjian / The Collegian)

It hasn’t been an ideal start for Fresno State softball players this season. 

They hit a block early into their season, carrying a 5-18 record four weeks in. This is the team’s worst start since the 2018 season, when they got off to a 9-10 start.  

This record is a considerable drop off in comparison with last year’s team, who headed into Mountain West play, who won 10 of their last 11 games before conference for a 12-5 overall record. 

Wednesday night’s game was a prime example of their performance this season, where the ‘Dogs lost a 10-2 to UCF.

The Knights got off to a four-run lead off five hits in the first inning. The Bulldogs failed to make a hit in response.

The Bulldogs have lost 11 out of their last 13 games. In seven consecutive losses, the ‘Dogs were outscored 59-0.

“We need to play better defense for our pitchers. We spotted them a few runs in the first inning, and you can’t do that against good teams,” head coach Stacy May-Johnson said. “Offensively, we’ve got to execute. We had multiple opportunities to score and we came away with no runs, when we should be coming away with two or three runs instead of none.” 

UCF scored four runs in the opening frame. 

These runs came from five hits given up by pitcher Cassidy West alongside two errors from the ‘Dogs defense. 

Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the first and needing to respond quickly, Fresno State’s offense was equally as unimpressive as its defense. 

Their first two batters led off the inning by grounding out, and despite senior Vanessa Hernandez getting on base by drawing a walk, the inning came to an end with Bailey Williams striking out on a full count. 

Cassidy West pitching in the game against UCF on March 9, 2022 at Margie Wright Diamond. (Melina Kazanjian/ The Collegian)

The ‘Dogs defense seemingly found its footing in the second inning, allowing only one baserunner, while not allowing any runs. 

The team then responded by scoring its first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. 

Alesia Denby’s stand-up double drove in Alyssa Orr for the first run of the game, but the inning came to a close shortly after with an Avery Lawley strike out. 

UCF began the fourth inning with a leadoff single from senior Justene Molina. 

After two strikeouts by West, the ‘Dogs were in position to end the inning with no damage, but UCF followed up these two at-bats with a pair of singles to finish out the inning, knocking in a run to extend their lead to 5-1. 

Failing to respond in the bottom of the fourth inning, but shutting out the Knights in the fifth inning, Fresno State gained momentum with a 1-out single from Emery Nielson. 

Similar to how the ‘Dogs scored their previous run, Nielson was knocked in immediately after getting on base from an Alana Cobb-Adams triple to right-center field. 

Now trailing 5-2, the ‘Dogs had their second and third spot batters coming to the plate with only one out. This opportunity ended up as the team’s best chance to get back in the game, however with back-to-back strikeouts. 

“We’ve got some things we need to execute at a higher level,” May-Johnson said. “I think we have to play at a higher level throughout the game, both the beginning and the end. The score was 5-2 and we were competing. The girls were driving the ball and scoring some runs, and it felt like there were runs to be had. We’ve just got to be better.”

Fresno State failed to score a run for the remainder of the game. 

In the sixth inning, UCF scored two runs off of two hits to extend their lead to 7-2, and then followed up with three more runs in the seventh to secure its 10-2 win. 

Following the loss, the ‘Dogs’ then headed to Los Angeles to compete in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. They played four games in two days, taking on both Cal-State Bakersfield and UCLA twice in back-to-back days. 

Fresno State managed to pick up two wins against Cal-State Bakersfield, winning 9-1 and 8-0, respectively. The ‘Dogs offense exploded in these two matchups against the Roadrunners, finishing with a total 13 hits and 17 combined runs. 

However they failed to match this success against UCLA, losing 8-2 and 12-0 in their two matchups. In the two games Fresno State allowed 24 hits and had four errors against the No. 6 Bruins. 

The ‘Dogs are now 5-18 as they head to Boise State for their first competition in conference play on March 18 to the 20.

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