Feb. 14, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara softball team unleashed their potential Tuesday in their 2007 home opener against Fresno State at Marsalli Park. After a disappointing 0-4 start, the Broncos came out against Fresno State on a mission, and despite the 3-2 loss, they made the Bulldogs fight for 12 innings before they managed to close out the game.
In just a few days since the Mustang Classic, the Broncos improved every aspect of their game. Junior Jackie Morales had her second start of the season and was spectacular, pitching five innings and allowing one run. Jerrica Castagno bounced back from two tough outings this weekend and also threw five strong innings, giving up just one run in the top of the tenth inning to a runner who had started from second base.
At the plate, freshman Jennifer Clarke was a force to be reckoned with. After starting the season 1-for-8, Clarke was 3-for-4 Tuesday with two doubles including a game-tying RBI in the fourth inning. Senior Angela Kabanuck was also solid at the plate. It was her fourth inning double that put her in scoring position for Clarke. Kabanuck finished the day 2-for-5 with a single, double and a walk.
But perhaps the most noticeable improvement was on defense. No matter how hard the Bulldogs hit the ball, Santa Clara was there to retire the side. In the fifth inning, with two out and runners on second and third, DH Merryann Barr roped the ball down the third-base line. The quick-reacting Ashley Blier simply raised her glove to instantly send the Bulldogs back to the dugout in what was one of only a few scoring opportunities for Fresno State. Freshmen Ashley Grove and Alyc Kalamaha combined for 12 of the 36 total outs, including what was set to be a game-changing play in the top of the 11th. With two outs and a runner on first, a Fresno state player skied the ball into shallow centerfield. Kalamaha went racing out as Kabanuck came charging in. With the ball about to drop in for what could have been an RBI single, Kalamaha dove head-first for the ball and came up with the third out.
In the bottom of the 11th, two consecutive walks loaded the bases for the Broncos, but Ashley Blier was thrown out at home plate on a fielders choice off the bat of Sara Overmier, and two consecutive strikeouts sent the Broncos back out to the field.
Finally, Fresno State capitalized on an errant throw from shortstop Ashley Grove which allowed the runner to score from second base to lead off the 12th, and the Broncos were unable to get the runner home from second base in the bottom of the 12th, so the game ended 3-2.
Having lasted well over three hours, daylight became a concern for both coaches as they contemplated the second game of what was to be a doubleheader. However, lighting issues at Marsalli Park all but made the decision for them and game two was cancelled.
The Broncos are now 0-5, but have now proven that they can compete with the nation's top teams. And they will be doing just that this weekend at the Stanford Invitational where they will face Pacific, host Stanford, and Missouri beginning on Friday, February 16.