Despite playing some of their sharpest ball of the season, the Gators were overwhelmed by a potent Humboldt State Lumberjacks offense, dropping four straight games on Friday (0-4, 1-6) and Saturday’s (1-9, 1-9) double-headers against the current conference leaders.
“I don’t think that the scores reflected how we feel about the games this weekend,” said SF State’s head coach Cristina Byrne. “We knew how tough Humboldt State is coming into this series. I believe that for where we are at right now, this was a successful weekend. A lot of players found their rhythm.”
Humboldt batters devastated the Gators at the plate, collectively homering four times throughout the series for a total of nine runs. When the ball was kept in play however, the Gators effectively translated a week of defensively focused practices to the field, consistently putting out Humboldt base runners in crucial moments and often in spectacular fashion.
“We had a couple of scrimmage games that helped defensively,” said third baseman Lucy Fernandez, who denied numerous Lumberjack opportunities with her glove. “We all kind of worked on whatever we needed to work on.”
Another silver lining for the Gators was the revitalized plate presence of shortstop Courtney Gravel, who has recently “found her stroke,” according to Coach Byrne.
“A lot of it was about staying aggressive at the plate,” Gravel said. “I just started looking for more good pitches to hit and tried not to play into the pitcher’s game.”
Gravel scored the only two runs of the Saturday double-header, and was brought in twice by the consistently solid bat of Fernandez.
A newfound sense of unity has contributed to the Gators performing more cohesively as a unit, especially on the defensive side of the ball where a high level of teamwork is most imperative. Coach Byrne gathered all of her players in a circle outside of the dugout during the second game, delivering words that inspired a number of solid performances from the Gators in the face of a menacing Humboldt squad.
“I just talked to them about staying together and surrendering the me for the sake of the we,” Byrne said. “Yesterday we got a hold of all the jerseys and had all of the players say why they thought they deserved to be here before giving them back. I was proud of the responses and I thought we played together well.”
The Gators will travel to Chico State this weekend to take on the Wildcats in a Saturday double-header.
“We’re really excited to go to Chico,” Gravel said. “It’ll be good for us to go out on the road and change it up a little.”