Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fresno State smashes records and blasts Stanford 24-8 in romp

Well, we predicted No. 22/24 Fresno State would have perhaps the most explosive offense in school history this season.  But for it to begin on the opening weekend of the season?  And against a Pac-12 opponent?  What happened Sunday was amazing.

In her first weekend coaching Fresno State, new Bulldog head coach Linda Garza wasted no time setting records.  Fresno State tied the all-time school record for runs and home runs in a game, and set the school mark in RBI for a single game in a stunning 24-8 (5 innings) run-rule rout of the Stanford Cardinal at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe.

The 'Dogs tied the runs record set three seasons ago in a 24-4 win at Boise State, and tied the single-game home runs record of six set 13 years ago in a win at Nevada.  Fresno State's 23 RBI in the contest established a new school record, snapping the old record of 22 set in that win over Boise State in 2014.

Things got off to a strong start as Fresno State surged to an 8-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back, scoring in every inning.  Senior Lindsey Willmon went deep with a pair of home runs, junior Savannah McHellon went yard for the second day in a row, freshman Miranda Rohleder hit her first career home run on a monster offensive day, Katie Castellon blasted a 3-run first inning shot to get things started, and Chase LeeHong capped it all with a pinch hit, 3-run dinger in the top of the fifth.

Rohleder made her first career start, batting in the leadoff spot for Fresno State, and was part of every rally with a 5-for-5 effort at the plate.  She finished just a double shy of hitting for the cycle, scored five runs, and had three RBI.  Rohleder was one of 13 different Bulldogs to have hits or score at least one run as the team pounded out 20 hits in the contest, one shy of the school record that's stood for nearly two decades.

It was the first time Fresno State had ever scored 20+ runs against a Pac-12 opponent in its long and impressive softball history.  And the Bulldogs did it against a Stanford team that entered Sunday's action 4-0 on the young season and allowing over two runs per game just once.  Cardinal starting pitcher Nikki Bauer was 2-0 entering the contest, but lasted just 1+ inning, giving up 10 earned runs.

Fresno State countered with Kamalani Dung, who finished a perfect 3-0 weekend.  Dung left with an 18-3 lead after seeing her string of scoreless innings to begin the season come to an end at 14.  For the weekend, Dung finished with the aforementioned 3-0 record, a 1.24 ERA and 15 strikeouts.  She held opponents to a .155 batting average and allowed only two extra-base hits during the tournament.

It was a strong overall weekend for Fresno State (4-1), which posted three wins over teams from Power 5 conferences -- two from the Big Ten (Indiana and Purdue), as well as Stanford from the Pac-12.  The Bulldogs also beat San Diego with a 12-run barrage, and their only loss was a narrow 4-1 setback to No. 9 Oregon.

McHellon proved to be a power on offense, finishing the weekend with a .615 batting average, eight hits, two home runs, and eight RBI.  Rohleder hit .727 for the weekend, while freshman Schuylar Broussard (.455) and Vanessa Hernandez (.400) combined for 11 hits and 11 RBI.  As a team, Fresno State finished tournament play in Tempe with a staggering .416 on-base percentage.

Elsewhere Sunday, New Mexico edged UC Riverside 1-0 to complete a 4-1 weekend, the second-best start for the Lobos in head coach Erica Beach's career; Nevada lost 6-5 to Army, ending the weekend 3-2 at the Southeastern Louisiana tournament; Utah State suffered its first loss, a 3-1 decision to Loyola Marymount; San Diego State picked up its second win of the season by beating Weber State; UNLV completed a 3-2 weekend with a home loss to Cal State Bakersfield; Colorado State lost 7-2 at Texas to finish the weekend 2-3; and both San Jose State and Boise State were idle.  The Spartans went 3-3 for the week, while the Broncos were 1-2 after being rained out of their final two games in Honolulu.