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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State Pitcher, Danielle Lung, takes the mound in game two against UC Davis on Feb. 19. (Julia Espinoza / The Collegian)

Bulldogs fall short in first home series against Aggies

Fresno State’s head softball coach Stacy May-Johnson picked up her first career win with the Bulldogs, but it was not enough as the Bulldogs lost their opening series against UC Davis at Margie Wright Diamond.­

The ‘Dogs won one of their three-game series this weekend, putting them at a 1-6 record overall to begin their season. 

“We’re not satisfied with our performance this weekend,” May-Johnson said. “We have to find a way to put more runs on the board and we’re certainly a better pitching staff than the number of hits we’ve given up. So we’re going to work this week to figure out how we can do better on Tuesday.” 

Fresno State has had a rough start to their 2022 season, losing their first five games before finally picking up a win Saturday night against the Aggies. The early-season troubles are not uncommon for the Bulldogs as they began last season with a 2-5 record, however, they enter this season with a sizable amount of turnaround in both staff and their roster the past year

The weekend series opened Saturday afternoon with the first of two games scheduled for the Bulldogs’ doubleheader. Cassidy West got the start for Fresno State’s first home competition, but her early pitching struggles led to a 7-1 loss in their first matchup. 

The Aggies kicked things off early by loading the bases in their first three at bats. West then struck out the next batter but a fielder’s choice gave UC Davis an early 1-0 lead. 

The Bulldogs’ pitching trouble led to another run in the second inning and two more in the third. West was relieved in the third inning by Marley Hanlon, and finished the outing having given up four runs off of three hits and four walks.­

Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, UC Davis still held a 4-0 lead, but an Emory Nielson leadoff single followed by an Alyssa Orr double to left-center put two runners in scoring position. 

In the next at-bat the Bulldogs earned their only run of the game when Haley Hvitved hit into a fielder’s choice, allowing Nielson to score from third. Bailey Williams followed the at-bat with a bunt for a potential run from Alyssa Orr, but she was tagged out at home. 

The next two innings both teams left multiple runners in scoring position but failed to pick up runs. However, in the top of the seventh UC Davis extended their lead with a three-run homer from right fielder Delaney Diaz. 

Keahilele Mattson swings in her at-bat at Margie Wright Diamond on Feb.19. (Julia Espinoza / The Collegian)

The second game of the series followed the first by just 40 minutes, but the quick time gap seemed to spark something for Fresno State as they’d take the second game of the series by a score of 11-5. 

However, despite the dominant win, the matchup began with UC Davis picking up where they left off offensively. The Aggies earned three runs off of four hits in the opening frame, allowing the team to boast an early 3-0 lead. 

Unlike their previous game,  the Bulldogs responded with their own offensive explosion. Former Mountain West player of the year Keahilele Mattson led things off with a triple, and scored a run the next at bat thanks to Hvitved’s single. 

Fresno State’s Vanessa Hernandez followed up the run by drawing a walk, and after two consecutive fielding errors Fresno State had taken a 4-3 lead to end the inning. 

UC Davis responded with a wild pitch in the third inning, but the Bulldogs scored three more runs off of an Aggies wild pitch and another extra-base hit from Keahilele Mattson. 

Now leading 7-4, Fresno State kept control of the lead for the rest of the night, extending it even more in the bottom of the fourth inning through multiple errors and a Mackenna Steele double. The last burst of scoring let the Bulldogs finish the first night of home play with an 11-5 victory. 

“It was a great team win, Danielle [Lung] gave us a great game and set the tone for us… It was good to see that and it really was a great unselfish win for the team,” May-Johnson said. 

Kacey Hvitved takes focus as she prepares to take second base in Feb.19 game against UC Davis. (Julia Espinoza / The Collegian)

Having split the first two games of the matchup, the Bulldogs came into the final game of the series looking to get another win in front of their home crowd. 

UC Davis started things off with yet another early lead, scoring their first run from a Leah Polson double in the bottom of the first­and their second on a two-out double from Delaney Diaz in the third inning.­

Fresno State struggled to respond offensively, producing only one hit in the first three innings of the game. 

In the fourth inning Williams led off with a single, and the team got two runners into scoring position as Mattson came to the plate. Despite having a prime scoring opportunity to put themselves back into the game Mattson popped up to the shortstop to end the inning. 

The Aggies extended their lead by adding a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. And the game came to a close shortly after Fresno State scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

The loss marked Fresno State’s first home-series loss since March of 2019, and despite  May-Johnson not being satisfied with the outcome, she considered the series experience for her squad. 

“Everything is a learning experience, the preseason is about learning whether you have a young team or an old team. What you’re trying to do is establish your lineup, try to establish areas where you can improve and sure up things before you head into the Mountain West,” she said. 

While the team is getting much needed experience, May-Johnson also said she believes her players are developing as the season progresses. 

“The team is capable of more than 1-6. We have played some good teams, but for us we’re concerned with the way we play,” May-Johnson said. “There’s good losses and bad wins, and there’s opportunities to play well and that’s really what we haven’t done. And we’re trying to get back to playing well.” 

­The Bulldogs’ next matchup will be in Santa Clara against the Broncos for their first midweek game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Alana Cobb-Adams takes second base as the bulldogs attempt to win game two against UC Davis on Feb.19. (Julia Espinoza / The Collegian)

Correction: March 10, 2022

An earlier version of this article misspelled the names of the head coach and a player of the team. It is Stacy May-Johnson, not Stacey May-Johnson, and Marley Hanlon, not Marley Honlon. The Collegian regrets this error.

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