SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Sweeping Utah State this weekend at Mission College, San Jose State softball jumped from second to first place in the Mountain West Conference and eliminated Utah State from the race for the conference championship.
Saturday: San Jose State 2, Utah State 1
Following a 7-3 win on Friday, San Jose State won the series on Saturday, this time with a 2-1 score.
Giving up only one hit and striking out three, Colette Riggs (10-3) got the complete-game win. The hit happened with one out in the fourth inning.
Emma Entzminger showed why she was recently moved to the leadoff spot, as her leadoff walk in the first inning would pay off. A Casey Watt single, illegal pitch by April Brown, and Brittany Abacherli sacrifice fly to center sent Entzminger home for the first run of the game.
In the third, Entzminger again led off by reaching base, this time with a single up the middle. A double play advanced Entzminger to third, and Madison Aurin doubled to right center to extend the San Jose State lead to 2-0.
Things could have fallen apart in the sixth inning, as Utah State scored an unearned two-out run after Entzminger could not field a ground ball at third. Abacherli secured the third out and averted the threat by catching a fly ball from S. Jaramillo.
Riggs pitched a one-two-three seventh inning that ended with a fly out to center field. After the game, the five seniors on the team, including Riggs and Watt, were honored in a ceremony held on the San Jose State campus, in the Gold Room of the Simpkins Stadium Center.
Sunday: San Jose State 6, Utah State 1
San Jose State’s home finale ended with a 6-1 win over Utah State and a series sweep to send off the five seniors, before a loud, overflow crowd of 285 at Mission College.
Senior pitcher Katelyn Linford (22-7) got the complete-game win, with six strikeouts. In her second start of the series, April Brown (13-6) took the loss in her final career conference game. This win also eliminates Utah State from the race for the conference title.
Prior to announcing the starting lineups, the team’s sports information director and public address announcer Richard Stern introduced the 12 seniors from both teams.
The first two innings had nothing to show offensively other than a first inning, one-out Casey Watt single for San Jose State. However, Utah State got its first hit in the third inning, a left side single by Kylie-Rose Dickson that flew past the dive of shortstop Mackenzie Drake, who was starting in place of the injured Georgia Blair.
San Jose State jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third. Following consecutive one-out singles by Mackenzie Drake and Emma Entzminger, Watt blasted a two-RBI double to deep center field. Madison Aurin later doubled to the same spot to score Watt and ended Brown’s day in the circle.
“She’s moving the ball, she’s getting key hits…and she hasn’t made any physical errors,” remarked San Jose State head coach Peter Turner about Drake.
“Her range is actually one of the best we have,” expounded Turner about Drake’s play at shortstop. “So we get a little more range out of her so [that] when you see balls that she just doesn’t get to…no one else is going to get to those, either.”
Utah State responded with a two-hit fourth inning. Paxton Provost drilled a one-RBI double to right center to pull Utah State within 3-1.
“I just have to trust that my defense will help me out, and they did,” said Linford.
Facing Friday’s starter Kellie White in relief, San Jose State’s offense added two more hits in the bottom of the fourth, including a leadoff double by Chelsea Jenner and RBI single by Alyssa Avila. The inning ended with a 4-1 lead but not before a disputed third strike call against Entzminger.
“It’s a judgement call. It hit [Entzminger], but [the home plate umpire] asked for help, and [the first base umpire] said it was a swing, and in my view, it wasn’t a swing,” said Turner.
Sydney Hart led off the fifth inning for Utah State with a single that bounced hard off Linford’s glove and away from shortstop Drake.
“Anytime it’s hard hit to the pitcher [and] it deflects off the glove, that’s an automatic scorekeeper’s judgement, and it’s a hit,” explained Turner.
Aurin sent another pitcher to the bench by blasting a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle for a 6-1 San Jose State lead. Katie Schroeder pitched for the third out to end the inning.
The seventh inning had three consecutive outs, two fly balls and a popup. Centerfielder Brittany Abacherli caught a fly ball from Brina Buttacavoli to seal the win.
“The other team’s going to come out [and] try their hardest in the seventh inning,” commented Linford.
On Tuesday, the Mountain West named Aurin the Player of the Week for a 6-for-11 (.545) batting average, six RBIs, and two doubles in the series.