Solid pitching was the key component in both games of the doubleheader Thursday that pitted the SF State women’s softball team against the non-conference opponent Grand Canyon Antelopes. The Gators won the first game of the three-game series, but failed to close out the second. The third, and final, game of the series will be played Friday at 11 a.m. at SF State.
“I was confident, but you never want to be over-confident. You always want to be humble and make sure to shut them out whenever you can,” said junior pitcher Marisa Ibarra.
The women’s softball team got off to a rough start this month after being trounced in two doubleheader contests last week. With steady determination, the team managed to overcome the Antelopes in all seven innings of the first game.
“Ibarra on the mound was probably the main reason for us winning the ballgame and shutting them out,“ said head coach Cristina Byrne. “She gave up four hits and no ball left the in field. Anytime you can hold a team to zero runs, that’s a big key. [Ibarra] ran the show. ”
The Gators made quick work of opposing pitcher Kiley Raica, who recently won Pac West Pitcher of the Week honors. She surrendered three runs early in the first inning which led to a scored run by junior outfielder Kylie Herrada. The Gators never relinquished the lead after piling on two more runs, courtesy of infielder combo Jenna Robertson and Courtney Gravel.
“The tension you give the other team when you score first, that’s one of the things that made us win the first game,” said Herrada. “It sets the momentum for the whole game when you score first.”
The Antelopes took note of the Gator strategy in the first game and took revenge in the second one.
Grand Canyon ripped off three hits which led to consecutive runs for in the first inning, shifting the momentum and burying the Gators early. A few questionable calls from the umpires left the Gators frustrated.
“I’m not here to blame umpires but, it was pretty atrocious officiating that really turned the game around,” said Byrne. “I don’t think they lost the game for us, but there was definitely times where it felt like we were playing 11 against nine.”
One play in particular boiled Byrne to the point where she could not stand by any longer. A heated debate ensued between Byrne and the umpire after a questionable call. In the first inning, the Gators first basemen was hit by an Antelope runner which counted as an error against SF State and eventually led to a 0-2 score.
Missed opportunities also hurt the Gators in the second game. They failed to score in five straight innings, leading to to a 0-4 deficit.
However, late game performances by the Gators helped the team get back onto the scoreboard, as they scored three runs in the sixth inning alone.
Three runs by the junior duo of Heather Jensen and Summer Powell inched the Gators closer to victory. Freshman Jordan Brenner also added a run for the Gators bringing the game to 3-4.
Sadly the late-game rally was not enough to close out the second game, resulting in each team getting a win from the double header.
“It pulls the heart strings a little more when you lose a close game,” said Ibarra. “But a loss is a loss. Either way it sucks, it’s just tougher on the heart.”