Fresno State beats UH softball team to force winner-take-all game later today
Fresno State scored three runs in the top of the first inning and relied on untimely hitting by the University of Hawaii to hold on for a 4-3 victory today in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament softball game in Las Cruces, N.M.
The victory by Fresno State, which lost 16-1 to UH on Friday, forced a winner-take-all game for the WAC championship and an automatic NCAA berth.
That game will start at 1 p.m. Hawaii time.
The Rainbow Wahine have stranded 14 runners, including the bases loaded in the second and the fifth innings and two runners each in the first, third and seventh. UH didn't help itself, swinging on 3-0 pitches on two occasions with no positive result.
UH starter Stephanie Ricketts struggled early, giving up three straight hits to open the game. She threw two wild pitches in the inning, including one that scored a run.
Despite numerous base runners, UH broke through in the bottom of the third on Kanani Pu'u-Warren's single that scored Melissa Gonzalez, who started the inning with a single.
Fresno State tallied another run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth for a 4-1 lead.
UH got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth.
Jenna Rodriguez doubled for her third hit. Alexandra Aguirre then singled to left and UH scored after the left-fielder bobbled the ball to make it 4-2.
Aguirre, who moved to second on the left-fielder's error and to third on a wild pitch, scored on a ground out to make it 4-3.
Two singles and a walk followed Aguirre's groundout. But Jessica Iwata tapped the ball back to the mound for the third out.
Iwata, the WAC Player of the Year, would also groundout in the seventh with runners on second and third to end the game.
UH beat San Jose State, 16-8, on Thursday, and Fresno State, 16-1, Friday to advance to the championship.
The Rainbow Wahine did not hit a homer in the game.
In their first two games of the tournament, the Rainbow Wahine hit eight home runs in the two games to break and extend the NCAA record for most home runs in a season. UH's total is 136 with the previous record being 134 set last year by Arizona.