Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fresno State stuns #6 Washington and #14 Nebraska

Fresno State completed perhaps the greatest single-day performance in Mountain West softball history Sunday when two different sophomore Bulldog pitchers threw back to back complete-game shutouts over Top 25 teams.

And these weren't just any Top 25 teams.  These were two squads that advanced to Oklahoma City last season and the Women's College World Series.  And with the victories, it seems Fresno State's relentless non-conference juggernaut of a schedule is finally paying off.

Jill Compton threw a complete-game 4-hitter and Michelle Solomon delivered a run-scoring triple as the Bulldogs beat No. 14 Nebraska 1-0 in Fullerton Sunday morning.  A half hour later, Kiley Shae Aldridge earned her first start of the season and stunned No. 6 Washington in a complete-game, 3-hit shutout by an identical 1-0 score.

After numerous close calls against Top 25 powers this season, the Bulldogs delivered their first two wins over a ranked opponent in nearly two years.  And they did it all in a 4-hour timeframe.  Fresno State had been flirting with monster wins over the past few weeks, taking late leads against then-No. 2 Tennessee and then-No. 10 Oregon, only to fall in their final at-bat.

That wouldn't be the case Sunday.  Compton held Nebraska at bay all game long, and Fresno State scored the only run it needed in the top of the first.  Against Huskers ace Tatum Edwards, it was Brenna Moss leading off the game with a single. After Moss advanced on a groundout by Kapri Angotti, Solomon hit a triple down the right-field line for the game's lone run.

After the Bulldogs gave away games the past two days with seven errors and defensive lapses galore, it was Angotti who came up with the play of the game in left field against the Huskies.  Her spectacular diving catch for the first out of the bottom of the seventh inning likely prevented at least a double and perhaps saved the day.

Nebraska fell to 15-7 on the season with only its second loss of the year to an unranked team.

Compton's incredible pitching performance was matched immediately afterwards by the phenomenal effort of sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge, making her first start.  Aldridge struck out nine and continually kept Washington off-balance.  Her nine strikeouts were a career high and came against a Huskies team that had been rolling, off to a 19-3 start to the season.

Fresno State scored the game's only run versus the Huskies in the fifth.  With one out, Taylor Green got one of her two hits in the game.  Green moved to second on a key, 2-out, pinch-hit walk by freshman Kierra Willis.  And then it was up to sophomore Whitney Smith, whose clutch RBI single changed the game and gave the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead.

Also Sunday:

San Diego State 13, North Dakota 7 -- The Aztecs broke a 6-all tie midway thru the game, keeping North Dakota winless on the season (0-9).

Indiana 5, Boise State 4 -- The Hoosiers (4-16-1) built a 5-run lead and held off a late comeback by the Broncos in Boise.

UNLV 6, Georgetown 1 -- The Rebels trailed 1-0 in the fifth before tying it on an Emily Haslinger home run, and then added a 5-run seventh inning for the victory over the Hoyas (7-11).

Nevada 6, Seattle 0 -- McKenna Isenberg got the victory and Nikki Orozco came up with three RBI as the Wolf Pack completed a 2-3 home-opening weekend with a victory over the Redhawks (10-15) of the WAC.

UC Riverside 8, Utah State 6 -- The Aggies let a big lead get away, and a grand slam helped ignite a string of eight unanswered runs as the Highlanders (13-11) prevailed in Riverside.

Boise State 7, Valparaiso 0 -- Rebecca Patton got the complete-game shutout victory (her first of the season) in a home win over Valpo (4-13).

Arizona 8, San Jose State 1 -- The No. 7-ranked Wildcats jumped to an 8-0 lead in the fourth inning and cruised to a win over the Spartans (11-11) in Fullerton.

Colorado State 9, Dayton 5 -- Chelsea O'Conner hit a home run and both teams had 10 hits as the Rams got some revenge from an earlier loss to the Flyers (6-12).

Neb.-Omaha 4, Colorado State 0 -- The Rams managed only four hits and were shut out at home by UNO (14-8) to conclude the Colorado State tournament.