SDSU softball on a roll as it heads into Mountain West play

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SDSU softball on a roll as it heads into Mountain West play

by Meghan Lanigan, Staff Writer

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San Diego State’s softball team was the only team to go undefeated (5-0) at the San Diego Classic II.

This weekend provided multiple firsts for the team: Redshirt-freshman Katie Byrd hit her first collegiate home run — a grand slam. Freshman catcher Molly Sturdivant hit her first career walk-off home run and freshman right-hander Julie McDonald threw her first career complete game.

The Aztecs played five games in four days and beat Harvard University, 8-7, in eight innings, BYU, 3-2, Princeton University, 9-3, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 5-1, and UC Santa Barbara, 6-5.

“It was quite a weekend,” head coach Kathy Van Wyk said. “We found a way to win.”

The tournament spanned four days over two locations: the SDSU Softball Stadium and the Santee Sportsplex.

SDSU ended the first day of the Classic against Harvard. The Aztecs had a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth when the Crimson broke it open and scored five runs to take a 6-4 lead. SDSU tied it up in the bottom of the sixth and sent the game into extra innings with a scoreless seventh.

It was in the bottom of the eighth when Aztecs junior second baseman Leia Ruiz doubled to right centerfield. The walk-off hit scored senior right fielder Zaria Meshack and junior center fielder Jaylene Ignacio and gave the Aztecs the 8-7 win. SDSU had 14 hits and seven RBIs.

Friday’s game against BYU had a slow start and the Aztecs found themselves down 1-0 in the bottom of fourth when sophomore catcher Jenavee Peres homered to left field.

BYU tied up the game in the the fifth on an RBI groundout by freshman catcher Libby Sugg. In the bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded, SDSU senior shortstop Samantha Camello drew a walk, giving the Aztecs the 3-2 win.

The Aztecs’ bats tallied 14 hits in the game against Princeton and McDonald improved her record to 2-1 on the season with two strikeouts and one walk in her first complete game.

SDSU was down 2-0 to the Tigers in the top of the fourth when the team scored five runs on three singles, a double and a sacrifice fly. Junior first baseman Sydnee Cable and Meshack both went 3 for 4 against Princeton, and Sturdivant went 2 for 3.

After coming off the 9-3 win against the Tigers in the early game Saturday, SDSU and Cal Poly were scoreless in the bottom of the fourth when Byrd hit a grand slam on the first pitch of her at-bat, giving the Aztecs a 4-0 lead. Byrd had gone 11 plate appearances without a hit before she homered over the center-field wall. Byrd and Peres both went 2 for 3 in that game and the Aztecs came away with five runs.

The last day of the Classic the Aztecs faced UCSB and were down 5-3 in the sixth when SDSU began the inning with a lead-off walk by junior catcher Frankie Orlando. Metcalfe replaced her as a  pinch-runner.

Both Cable and Ignacio singled to load the bases. Meshack batted in Metcalfe and Camello singled up the middle to bring home Ignacio to tie the game.

Sophomore right-hander Alex Formby had runners on the corners in the seventh, but was able to get out of the jam.

Van Wyk said Formby had a turning point in the game against University of Washington in the Fresno State Classic and it helped her in the game against UCSB.

“Before she would have crunched and fell apart,” Van Wyk said. “She’s doing a better job of throwing strikes and challenging hitters.”

Sturdivant came to the plate to lead off the seventh and hit the first pitch over the left-field wall to give SDSU the fifth win of the weekend.

“That’s what has been missing, at least offensively, the clutch plays,” Van Wyk said.

Peres had to come out of the game Sunday against UCSB with a knee injury. She saw the doctor Monday and Van Wyk said it’s not overly serious, but it looks like a knee sprain.

Peres leads the Aztecs with a .444 batting average and six home runs despite missing nine games due to a concussion she suffered on opening day.

Orlando came into the UCSB game to relieve Peres.

“Orlando came in and did a fantastic job,” Van Wyk said.

The team faces 24 conference games in a row, beginning Thursday, with a three-game series against UNLV. Van Wyk likes the schedule because it means no more mid-week games, which will give the team more practice time.

“It’s a three-game series each weekend with one bye week and it’s only one game each day,” she said.

Van Wyk also said she likes the combination of senior right-hander Erica Romero with Formby coming in to relieve her. Romero is 9-4 on the season and Formby improved her record to 6-4 with the win against UCSB.

“They’re very different styles of pitchers,” Van Wyk said. “We’ll keep working that combination.”

She said the team came into its own at the San Diego Classic II and it feels prepared for the upcoming schedule.

“(We) feel confident going into conference,” Van Wyk said.

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