The Rams experienced ups and downs this weekend as they won two and lost two games in the opening week of Mountain West Conference play.
On Friday, CSU swept San Diego State, showing the capability of the players' bats and pitching. In game one, it was sophomore Jessica Strickland who was in control from the circle for the Rams. She pitched a complete game shutout, giving up only seven hits and striking out three batters in a 2-0 victory.
"I thought that Jess threw a great game," said head coach Mary Yori. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
As Strickland dominated the Aztecs batters, the Rams behind her stood strong and played great defense.
"The whole team played really well defensively," Strickland said. "It feels really good to shut a team like this out."
The Rams got the scoring started in the third inning when senior second baseman Stephanie Roberts singled to center. Two batters later, Strickland singled to right, sending Roberts home.
CSU increased its lead in the sixth inning when sophomore outfielder Brittany Huerta hit a leadoff home run, her second of the season, to bring the score up to two. Huerta finished the game 2-for-2 with one RBI and one run scored. That was all the Rams needed to finish off the Aztecs.
In game two it was more of the same, but this time it was the Rams' bats that won them the game.
In the third inning, Roberts stepped up to the plate with two runners on. She proceeded to hit a towering shot over the left-field fence, which set the tone for the game. In the fifth inning, the Rams did it again to the Aztecs. With two men on, Strickland hit a three-run shot that put CSU totally in control.
Leading 6-0, the Rams let San Diego State score one run in each of the last two innings, but came away with the 6-2 win. Strickland was 2-for-3 in the game with three RBIs and one run scored. Roberts was 1-for-4 with three RBIs. Genevieve Kelly picked up the win for the Rams, bringing her record to 10-4 on the season.
"It was a good day for us," Yori said. "This senior class has never swept SDSU, so I glad it happened for them."
On Sunday, the Rams couldn't find the same success as UNLV came to town. The Rams struggled from the plate in both games, as it was hard to find the runs needed to compete with UNLV.
In the first game, the Rebels got on the board early when Rebels catcher Maggie Livreri doubled to right center, scoring two. The score stayed like that all the way up to the bottom of the seventh, when CSU put a run together to tie the game.
Senior shortstop Brittany Burtner scored first when she tagged from third on a fly ball. Then, with two outs, Roberts scored after junior outfielder Jennifer Gardner hit the ball up the middle. Tied at two, the game went to extra innings. The Rebels scored in the top half of the eighth and the Rams had no answer. The game ended 3-2 in favor of the Rebels.
Strickland took the loss, moving her record to 9-6 on the season.
"We left a lot of runners on base today," Yori said. "You can't do that and expect to win. I knew UNLV was going to be tough."
In game two, the Rams' struggles continued. Playing well through three innings, the Rams gave up four runs in the third and fourth innings, then gave up two in the fifth as the game ended with UNLV up 10-0.
"At that point in the third inning our team stopped competing, with the exception of a few (players)," Yori said.
The Rams had a hard time hitting the ball against Rebels pitcher Shannon Crisp, as she gave up only two hits all day.
CSU's record now stands at 23-13 and 2-2 in the MWC. The
Rebels move to 26-13 on the season and 3-1 in the MWC.
The Rams now have a week to regroup and look forward to Saturday when New Mexico comes to town.