The Ram softball was back at home Thursday after a two week road trip, hosting the last-place Utah Utes in what was scheduled to be a late-afternoon doubleheader. The Rams lost the first game 3-2 in extra innings, and played one out of one inning in game two before a severe weather warning threw the game into a delay.
The weather cleared up by 5:15 p.m., but Utah had to leave to catch their flight out of Denver by 6:15, so officials decided to call the game.
CSU will not make up their second game because, under Mountain West rules, teams do not have to make up the last game of their season series if that game is called.
After the delay, CSU head coach Mary Yori expressed her frustration with the situation.
“If (Utah) could have waited, we could have played this game,” Yori said. “This isn’t what is best for the program or our student athletes. This isn’t working.”
The weather did stay away long enough for the Rams to get their first game in, but the sunshine didn’t seem to help the team out any as they lost their third strait game.
The Utes jumped on the Ram pitching early in the first game, as junior Meghan Crouse led off the game with a triple, paving the way for the Utes to score two runs in the first two innings.
The Rams were held scoreless with just one hit until the bottom of the seventh, when freshman Ashley Munoz hit a fastball deep over the right field wall for her tenth home run of the year, bringing them within one of the Utes at 2-1. Senior catcher Stacey Leigh then hit a single to right and advanced to second on an error, putting the tying run in scoring position with nobody out.
Pinch runner Sara Sullivan, in for Leigh, was able to advance to third on a pass ball with one out. Capping the late run for the Rams, first baseman Julia Kloppe hit a slow groundball up the middle but the throw to the plate was not in time, scoring Sullivan and tying the game at 2.
Utah pitcher Karina Cannon was able to work her way out of the jam, striking out two and inducing a fly-out to deep short, sending the game to extra frames.
Unfortunately for the Rams the comeback was not to be, as freshman first baseman Kara Foster opened up the top of the eighth for the Utes with a towering homerun to left center, regaining the Utah lead, 3-2.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth put senior designated player Jessica Strickland on first, the Rams went 1-2-3 on their way to their eighth conference loss of the season.
“It seemed like our players were guessing instead of attacking at the plate,” coach Yori said. “We talked about that and we worked on that in practice, and they didn’t respond, and that is frustrating. We let them take control.”
CSU finished the game with three hits from three different players and no errors. Sophomore Kim Klabough picked up the loss for the Rams, dropping her record to an even 10-10. Klabough gave up three runs on six hits, striking out four and not allowing a walk in 8.0 innings pitched.
“We have a lot of great girls,” Yori said. “At this point in the season, we are trying to play the game right and play hard because that is our job as a team and as athletes.”
With the loss the Rams fall to 26-26 on the season, 5-8 and fourth place in the Mountain West.
The Rams continue their home stand Friday, hosting the league-leading Brigham Young Cougars in a two game series over two days. Friday’s game is set to begin at 3 p.m. and Saturday’s first pitch is set for noon.
Softball beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at email@example.com.