Gator offense takes center stage in doubleheader sweep
The Gators combined lights-out pitching with the long-awaited clutch hitting that has eluded the squad this season, downing the Holy Names University Hawks 4-0 and 9-1 for the team’s first doubleheader win at home Friday.
Pitcher Megan Clark forced Hawks hitters into difficult pitch counts that resulted in countless easy outs during her first-game shutout. She stretched a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing just two hits by the game’s end.
“I didn’t even know that I was pitching a no-hitter until someone told me,” Clark said. “You can’t think like that when you’re out there.”
A defensive turning point for the Gators came in the third inning, when catcher Sara Higa gunned the ball to shortstop Jennifer Lewis to catch a stealing Holy Names baserunner. The throw veered slightly to the right, causing Lewis to leap for the catch and collide with the Holy Names player as she entered her slide. Lewis made the tag and walked away unscathed, while the other player remained on the ground before being supported off the field.
SF State proved themselves offensively in the second game, putting up nine runs through the first two innings en route to their first eight-run-rule victory of the season. A two-run hit from right fielder Aryn Guzman sailed over the left-center field fence to end the six-run second inning.
“As soon as I saw that pitch I knew it was one I wanted to attack,” said Guzman of her second homerun this season. “We’ve been doing drills where we sight the ball out of hand in practice, and I think it helped us today. We showed that we can hit collectively as a team.
The Gators hit well from top to bottom, totaling more runs in two innings of the second game than in any full game this season. Guzman, Higa, left fielder Delanie Chrisman, center fielder Chelsea Brent and third baseman Lucy Fernandez all had multiple hits throughout the day’s two games.
“It was really nice to see everyone hit well,” Fernandez said. “The hitting was more consistent today. I’m hoping that we come back looking like this next week.”
Head coach Cristina Byrne said she was glad to see her team take an early lead after watching them struggle to fight out of early holes often throughout the season.
“We got the opportunity to play from out front which was great,” Byrne said. “We were aggressive early and the middle of the lineup hit well. It was good to have a break from conference play and now we get a couple of days of before next week’s practices which should be really good for the team.”
The Gators will look to keep their momentum going into next week’s four-game series against a 14-14 conference opponent in Cal State San Bernardino.