May 2, 2004
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Santa Clara University softball team won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship this afternoon with two must-win victories over Sacramento State. The Broncos took 1-0 and 7-2 wins at Shea Stadium for the league crown.
Santa Clara closes the regular season with a 30-23 overall record and a 16-4 mark in the PCSC, earning the conference title with a one-game edge over Loyola Marymount. The Lions' loss in their first game today against Portland State, combined with Santa Clara's victory, sealed the league title for the Broncos. The Hornets close their season 32-28, 10-10, and finish in third place.
Santa Clara faced a similar situation last season, holding the edge in the league standings with two rained-out games left to make up, but were unable to convert against Saint Mary's and handed the championship to LMU on the final day of the league season. Both programs returned that excitement to the 2004 schedule, with the Broncos' capturing this year's edge.
"This was a real conference race," head coach Marcy Crouch said post game. "The tone of the team was intense. They were ready to play and win this championship."
Senior pitcher Jaime Forman-Lau struck out 17 on the day while picking up both wins. She threw a one-hitter in her first outing, and followed with a four-hitter in the matinee, allowing one earned run.
Santa Clara won the decisive game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior catcher Rachel Sherman singled to the short stop and advanced to second one out later, when Bronco shortstop Shannon Linerud singled to the same area of the field. A Hornet throwing error allowed Sherman to reach home for the game-winner.
Bronco bats picked up momentum in the second game, as Santa Clara registered 11 hits. Junior left fielder Jessica Clee finished 2-4 with 3 RBIs to lead the Broncos.
Santa Clara went ahead 2-0 after the first frame with Sherman's 2-RBI single up the middle. The Broncos moved ahead by a 3-0 score in the third with Linerud's sacrifice fly to bring home Sherman. Sherman had reached base on balls and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
"Rachel's hit was huge," Crouch added. "It put them down right away. Jaime just took our momentum from there and ran with it."
Sac State countered with a run in the fourth, with an RBI-triple from first baseman Amanda Moreland, but two more Bronco runs in the bottom of that inning kept SCU ahead. Santa Clara opened a 5-1 lead with hits from Keri Reisinger, Jenny Brown and Clee, and capitalized on two Hornet errors.
Santa Clara added two more runs in the fifth. Forman-Lau led off the inning with a double to right field. Two outs later, a single from Vanessa Werner and a double from Clee brought in two Bronco runners.
Sacramento State closed scoring with an unearned run in the sixth.