Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bulldogs implode again with 6 more errors, fall to 6-8 in league play

Fresno State's self-destructive season continued Sunday, as the Bulldogs committed six errors, leading to five unearned runs that played a decisive role in a 9-3 loss at home to San Jose State.

The Spartans ended up winning the series two games to one, maintaining a second-place tie in conference play, while the Bulldogs dropped to sixth in the Mountain West standings.  No Fresno State team has ever finished lower than third in conference play since the school began sponsoring the sport of softball in 1978.

Fresno State's woes in the final games of MW series continued.  The Bulldogs are now 0-6 in their last six Mountain West series finales, and have not won on Sunday in conference play in nearly a full year.  Their last MW win on a Sunday came May 8, 2016.

At just 26-20 overall, coach Linda Garza's team -- once ranked as high as 21st in the nation in the USA Today/NFCA poll earlier this season, has lost six of its last seven conference games, and won just two of its past 11 overall.  Fresno State must go 8-1 in its final nine games this season to avoid owning the worst conference record for a Bulldog softball team in school history.  Also in jeopardy: the Bulldogs' streak of 35 consecutive seasons with 30 or more wins.

Garza chose to start ace pitcher Kamalani Dung in only one of the three games in the series.  And that was on Friday, in an 8-2 Bulldog rout.  Garza started freshman Samantha Mejia Saturday, in Mejia's first start in seven weeks.  Savannah McHellon started today's game and took the loss. Fresno State is winless in April in games where a pitcher other than Dung has gotten the start in the circle, and the last win by a Bulldog pitcher other than Dung was March 29 in a non-conference game against Pacific.

San Jose State coach Peter Turner had his ace Katelyn Linford in the circle a third day in a row, as Linford became the pitcher of record in all three games in the series.  She lost Friday's game against Dung, but was the winning pitcher both Saturday and today.  Linford leads the Mountain West with 19 wins.

SJSU's series win over Fresno State may represent a changing of the guard in what has been a series long dominated by the Bulldogs through the Margie Wright era.  The Spartans were 0-26 in the first 26 series between the two schools, but have won two of the past three -- both in Fresno.  San Jose State has never won a series between the schools in San Jose, and has won just 15 of 103 games between the schools all-time, even after this weekend.

Elsewhere Sunday, Utah State edged New Mexico 5-2 in Logan to win that series two games to one.  The Aggies, at 12-5 in conference play, remained two games ahead of both San Jose State and San Diego State, but just one game ahead in the all-important loss column.  With the Mountain West title now guaranteed to be decided with teams playing an uneven number of games in conference play, the loss column becomes of utmost importance.  USU hosts San Diego State next weekend before closing MW play at San Jose State the following week.

Colorado State won 5-0 and salvaged game three in its series at home versus UNLV Sunday, and SDSU beat last-place Boise State for the second day in a row to claim that road series.  The Aztecs prevailed 10-6.  Nevada lost its second straight road game at Kansas Sunday, falling in a 13-5 (six innings) run-rule affair.