Montana Softball Falls to Sacramento State in Big Sky Conference - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana Softball Falls to Sacramento State in Big Sky Conference Home Series, Highlights from Saturday 4/2

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Montana lost its first home series in program history and fell out of a tie for first place Saturday with an 11-3 loss to Sacramento State.

Montana 3 (13-18/4-2 BSC), Sacramento State 11 (15-14/5-1 BSC)

The second inning buried the Grizzlies on Saturday, as they allowed four runs and couldn’t answer despite loading the bases in the bottom half.

The teams entered the second tied at one, but the Hornets took advantage of some Grizzly mistakes to get two runners on. Zamari Hinton brought both runners home with a triple over the head of right fielder Sydney Stites.

A wild pitch from Maddy Stensby scored another run, forcing a pitching change from coach Jamie Pinkerton. Sara Stephenson came in and allowed one more run in the top half of the inning that saw three hits and four runs for the Hornets.

“We got in trouble with putting people on,” Pinkerton said. “We got into a hole and then didn’t get out of the inning. That’s a situation where you have to pound the zone. We just got behind, put a couple of kids on and they took advantage of it.”

In the bottom half, the Grizzlies had a chance to dig themselves out of the hole. Ashlyn Lyons singled, followed by a fielding error that put Alex Wardlow on first and advanced Lyons to second.

MaKenna McGill beat out the throw on an infield single to load up the bases, but Stites grounded out to the shortstop to strand three runners on base. The Grizzlies are hitting just .235 with the bases loaded this season after hitting nearly .350 a year ago.

“We had an opportunity to get right back in the game, but that’s been our Achilles heel this year,” Pinkerton said. “We do a good job getting people on and getting them loaded, but then we don’t finish. It ebbs and flows, we were really good with that last year but this year we’re not doing a good job.”

Stephenson held the Hornet bats in check for the next three innings, and Montana worked its way back into the game in the fifth.

Stites and Delene Colburn both walked, putting two runners on with two outs for Madison Saacke. The sophomore ripped one down the left field line, scoring both runners to cut the lead to 5-3.

Sacramento State answered in the top of the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits, highlighted by two-run shot to left by Kailey Olcott.

The Grizzlies gave up three more runs in the seventh inning, including a pinch hit home run by Alexxiss Diaz, to put the game out of reach.

Montana managed well at the plate, but a subpar defensive performance sealed their fate on a sunny afternoon in Missoula.

“When you give up 11 and you make some errors and a couple of mental mistakes, you are just not going to win games against anyone, much less a team picked to finish second,” Pinkerton said.

The home series loss hurts Montana, but they still remain in solo third place in the Big Sky at 4-2. Sacramento State and Weber State sit tied atop the standings at 5-1, with Portland State and Southern Utah one game behind Montana.

The Grizzlies have won five of their past seven games, even with the loss on Saturday.

“We’re still hot. We lost two out of three here, but we’re still in a good stretch of ball we just had a little setback today,” Pinkerton said. “When you step out of conference play it’s good to go play solid ball and work on yourself.”

The team will stay in Missoula and practice Monday during spring break, playing a mid-week doubleheader against Utah State followed by a match-up against three-time defending Big Sky champs Idaho State in Pocatello.

“We go on the road next week and play Idaho State, who dropped a series early in the year, so they are looking to make ground up,” Pinkerton said. “We have to go in and try to win a series to make up for losing here.”

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