(Photo Courtesy of Fresno State Athletics)
By Geoff Thurner
FULLERTON, Calif. – Enjoying its biggest wins of the season so far, the Fresno State softball team (12-7) capped play in the Judi Garmin Classic with a pair of 1-0 shutouts vs. No. 14 Nebraska and No. 6 Washington at the Anderson Family Field Sunday afternoon.
In the opener vs. the No. 14 Huskers (15-8), sophomore Jill Compton (7-4) staked her second 1-0 shutout of the season vs. an NCAA returnee.
Throwing only 88 pitches in her day’s work, the Oceano, Calif., native struck out four, walked only one, and gave up four hits.
The All-MW returnee had also blanked last year’s ACC Tournament champion N.C. State opening week, and now leads the `Dogs on the season in wins and strikeouts (45).
The `Dogs plated their run in the first inning after junior center fielder Brenna Moss led off with a single, and junior right fielder Michelle Solomon lined her second triple of the season down the right field line.
Fresno State’s other hit in the game came in the fifth inning after Moss singled to second base.
Others `Dogs reaching base included Solomon and senior DP Taylor Green who were hit by pitches in the third and sixth innings, respectively, and a four-pitch walk to freshman second baseman Liza Liddell in the seventh inning.
The Huskers stranded seven runners in the game, including runners on second base in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh innings and also third base in the second inning.
NU could have had another base-runner in the bottom of the seventh after MJ Knighten opened with a sinking liner to left field, but the `Dogs’ Kapri Angotti made a diving catch for the out.
For Nebraska, returning Big 10 Pitcher of the Year and senior Tatum Edwards also pitched a complete game, and struck out four (including three in a 10-pitch sixth inning), walked two, and allowed three hits.
At the plate for Nebraska, All-Big Ten shortstop Alicia Armstrong went 2-for-3 with her singles in the first and seventh innings.
Edwards claimed the team’s lone extra-base hit with her two-out sixth-inning double, and also singled to lead off the fourth inning.
The looming hero against No. 6 Washington (19-4) also came in the circle on a career-best effort by redshirt sophomore Kiley Shae Aldridge (1-2).
In her first start for the `Dogs since 2012, the Lompoc, Calif., native struck out a career-high nine batters, walked three and allowed only three hits.
Offensively, the `Dogs scored their run in the fifth inning after a lead-off single by Green, a walk to freshman pinch-hitter Kierra Willis, and RBI single up the middle by sophomore shortstop Whitney Smith.
UW’s best chance to score came in the third inning after a walk and single and sacrifice bunt, but Smith got an out at the plate on a grounder, and then made a leaping catch on a liner for the final out to strand two base runners.
The Huskies also had a two-out double by Whitney Jones in the sixth inning, but she was stranded after a grounder to third base.
Washington’s other hits came from Jennie McNeill on a bunt single in the third inning, and a Victoria Hayward two-out single in the fifth inning.
UW starter Kasey Stanchek (2-1) pitched the first five innings, struck out four, walked one, and allowed three hits and one earned run. All-America senior Kaitlin Inglesby pitched the final two innings, struck out one, walked none, and yielded two hits and no runs.
Overall for the five games on the trip, Moss hit .353 (6-for-17, 2B, SB) was one of two `Dogs that topped .300 with Green (.333, 4-for-12, HBP).
In the circle, Aldridge won her only appearance, and other pitchers’ combined stats follow: Hannah Harris (0.78, 0-2, 9.0 IP, 6 SO, 4 BB, 8H), Compton (2.21, 1-1, 12.2 IP, 6 SO, 6 BB, 11H) and Taylor Langdon (0-0, 2.2 IP, 4 SO, 2 BB, 6H).
Looking ahead to this week, the `Dogs return to Bulldog Diamond to host the Fresno State Classic, March 13-16. Fresno State’s games are set for Thursday vs. Pacific at 5 p.m.; Friday vs. Ohio State at 6 p.m.; Saturday vs. Cal Poly and New Mexico State at 3:45 and 8:15 p.m.; and St. Mary’s on Sunday at 3:45 p.m.
A complete tournament schedule is available at the http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/14-fresno-state-classic.html URL address.