For the CSU softball team, Sunday’s double-header with New Mexico was a portrait of the season in many ways: a dichotomy of thin and flush, good and bad, ups and downs. The Rams (24-19, 4-8 MWC) lost an ugly game 1, 8-2, but stormed to an easy win in the second, 11-1.
A threatening snow cloud stretched across Saturday’s sky forced the team to put away their original two-games-in-two-days plan, favoring instead a Sunday doubleheader and an earlier start time. Unfortunately for the Rams, nobody seemed to tell the bats that they needed to be up two hours earlier than scheduled.
The Rams managed just four hits and two runs in game 1, far short of their 5.8 runs per game average. The pitching also fell flat, with starter Kim Klabough giving up five runs in two recorded innings, including four in the first.
“You spot people four or five runs in the early going, sometimes you just don’t respond. We didn’t do that in the first game,” CSU coach Mary Yori said. “It’s not an excuse, but it’s what happened.”
Sophomore Allison Majam, a .340 hitter this spring, showed the only spark on offense in game 1, going 2-for-2 with a double and a home run. For the Lobos, second baseman Katie Gilmore was 4-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs, part of an eight-run, 10-hit line for the Lobos.
Following a 30-minute break between games and a talk from coach Yori, the Rams came out a completely different team than they were in game 1.
After three quick groundouts for the Lobos in the top of the first, CSU sprang to a seven-run, five-hit half inning. Sophomore Ashley Munoz had a three-run home run in the inning, but was outdone five batters later when sophomore right fielder Sarah Sullivan crushed a grand slam, the first of her collegiate career.
“I just went up there, relaxed, and did what coach told me,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that the team’s quick start in the second game was a matter of readjusting their confidence between games.
“We all know that we can do it. We just got together and told each other that we are there for each other and just go out there and hit the ball. We knew we could hit this pitcher,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan finished the game with two hits and five RBIs. As a team, the Rams finished with 14 hits, including five extra base hits.
Senior third baseman Lauren Cusick added to her growing resume with a home run in the bottom of the third, her 17th homer of the season. In addition to further cementing her school record for home runs in a season, the dinger moved her self into a tie for the most in the Mountain West with Brigham Young’s Angeline Quiocho.
Senior Cayte Billman picked up the win for the Rams, tossing a one-run, two-hit gem from the circle. She struck out one and surrendered four walks.
The split keeps the Rams in fifth place in the six-team Mountain West Conference with eight games to go. Though the team showed some early promise in the preseason, it has struggled its way to a .333 wining percentage in conference so far this year. But with series against each of the top four teams in the league still to come, anything can happen.
Sullivan said that the big win in game 2 could help the team recapture some of its early magic.
“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Sullivan said. “We really wanted to beat them. It was a good win.”
The Rams will be on the road next weekend, with a double-header against San Diego State on Friday followed by one game apiece on Saturday and Sunday against Nevada-Las Vegas.
Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.