SOFTBALL TAKES 2 OF 3 FROM FIRST PLACE SAC. STATE

Lucas Gebhart

Sports Editor

Sacramento State came to Pocatello with an 11-1 record in conference play. Then, Idaho State handed them two losses Friday afternoon at Miller Ranch Stadium.

After an hour rain delay Saturday afternoon, the Bengals dropped the third game of the series 10-1 in 6 innings.

“We can’t give them things in their wheel house and expect to get outs,” said head coach Candi Letts. “When you put that ball where it is not supposed to be, you’re giving that team a chance of hitting something hard.”

Friday was a different story.

Hornet pitcher, Celina Matthias, pitched 6.1 innings and held the Bengals scoreless through five innings.

“I don’t even know what was going on at the beginning,” first baseman Maddy Hickman said.

“They’re in first place, so I think everybody was a little worried, not playing themselves.”

Katelyn Marquez got the rally started with a lead-off triple, Burnett followed with a single and later scored to cut the lead to two.

ISU won the first game Friday afternoon in dramatic fashion, as Maddy Hickman belted her second walk-off home run in conference play, her 9th home run of the season, giving the Bengals a 7-4 come from behind victory.

“I was just trying to get it to the outfield,” Hickman said. “It ended up being better than that.”

The Bengals carried the momentum from the first game into the second of the double header, winning 5-3.

The Bengals started hot at the plate, scoring all five of their runs in the first three innings.

Hickman started right where she left off from the first game, with a two-run home run in the first inning, giving the Bengals an early 2-1 advantage.

Sac. State responded to ISU’s hot start, keeping pace with the Bengals through the first three innings. Ashlyn Ames retired 10 Hornet hitters in a row, enabling ISU to hold their two run lead the rest of the way.

Kacie Burnett went 3-6 on the day, stealing three bases, two of which came in the second contest.

“That was fun,” Burnett said. “We just try to be aggressive and do the best we can on the bases.

We look for down pitches that the catcher will have to block so we can advance easier.”

“We left them speechless,” Letts said. “When they left the field, they didn’t know what hit them.”

The Bengals were looking for the series sweep on Saturday, but an angry Hornets team and Mother Nature stood in their way.

The game was delayed just over an hour due to weather and with the Bengals kicking the Hornets’ nest on Friday, they faced a determined Matthias, who only gave up five hits on the day.

Sac. State jumped on the Bengals early with a Sasha Margulies two-run home run. The Bengals were able to keep the Hornets at bay for the next two innings while the offense struggled to get anything going. The Bengals had only two hits through the first three innings while managing just three base runners.

“She is a really good pitcher,” junior Sarah Hayes said. “Her pitching patterns throw a lot of people off. She has a nasty screw and a nasty change.”

The Hornets picked up some insurance in the 4th and 5th innings, plating four runs.

Then, the wheels fell off.

Sac. State sent 10 hitters to the plate in the 6th inning, scoring four runs, three of which were scored before the Bengals managed to get an out.

Sophie Slagle gave up 4 earned runs in four innings of work, striking out 5. Bailey Foster came on in relief, pitched two innings, giving up six earned runs, four of which came in the 6th inning.

“I thought Sophie pitched really well in the beginning,” catcher Dara Kolar said. “She just missed a couple spots. They were hitting really well today.”

Despite getting mercy ruled in 6 innings, the Bengals are looking at the positives, they still took two of three from a Sacramento State team that had only lost one conference game prior to this series.

“We will see them in the tournament,” Hayes said. “We’ll definitely see the same pitcher. It will be a close game and there will be a lot of offense.”

ISU will go to Portland State next weekend.

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