Entering the weekend with a full head of steam, the CSU softball team received a rude awakening, losing three times in as many days to open Mountain West Conference play.
A day after seeing a sixth-inning lead disappear on Friday in a loss to UNLV, the Rams were stifled by the strong pitching of San Diego State on both Saturday and Sunday, scoring one run and collecting just eight hits in the final two games of the road trip.
The Rams (22-14, 0-3 MWC) were outscored 21-5 over the three-game span.
â€œWe just didnâ€™t play solid softball this weekend,â€ said head coach Mary Yori after Sundayâ€™s loss to San Diego State. â€œI think it was a combination of a lot of things, but we just couldnâ€™t get it going.â€
As expected, it was the big bats of the Runninâ€™ Rebels and quality pitching of the Aztecs that caused the Rams problems. The Aztec pitching was led by Samantha Beasley, who shut down the Rams in both games, allowing just eight hits and one earned run, while striking out 21 batters.
â€œ(Beasley) is probably the best pitcher weâ€™ve seen all year,â€ Yori said. â€œWe couldnâ€™t get on track against her. She had several different pitches, all with great movement on them.â€
The Rams entered the weekend having won 21 of their past 28 games. The current three-game losing skid marks their first such streak since Feb. 13, when the Rams opened the season with three consecutive defeats.
Yori attributed the Ramsâ€™ challenging conference-opening weekend to spotty hitting and a lack of consistency from the pitching staff.
â€œPitching wise we didnâ€™t throw real well from the pitching circle,â€ Yori said. â€œOffensively, we couldnâ€™t put anything together. Weâ€™d get a hit here and there but werenâ€™t ever able to get any big innings going.â€
The Rams will now prepare to host their first MWC games of the season, with both BYU and Utah visiting Fort Collins this weekend. The Cougars (26-8, 2-0 MWC) are the defending league champions and beat the Rams in their only contest at Ram Field a year ago.
Yori and the Rams are well aware that the MWC road doesnâ€™t get any easier from here.
â€œItâ€™s going to be a challenging weekend coming up,â€ she said. â€œ(BYU) will certainly cause some problems, but every conference game is going to be difficult, and we know that.â€
The action will begin this weekend as the Rams host the Utes on Friday evening at Ram Field in search of their first conference win of the season.
Softball Beat Reporter Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.