For a team in search of an ace and early momentum for a first-year coach, Fresno State sophomore Kamalani Dung had the nearly perfect gift.
The sophomore right-hander from Hawaii pitched a three-hitter and the No. 24 Bulldogs had their only three hits in the fourth to beat Indiana 2-0 on Friday while opening the 2017 season under new coach Linda Garza at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
Game 2 versus ninth-ranked Oregon didn’t go quite as well as the Ducks broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the fourth and beat the Bulldogs 4-1.
Dung, 8-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 18 games (11 starts) as a freshman, struck out seven while walking two. The offensive support came in an inning that looked doomed after the Bulldogs’ biggest bats – returning senior stars Kierra Willis and Lindsey Willmon – struck out to begin the top of the fourth against Indiana sophomore right-hander Tara Trainer.
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Freshman Maddi Hackbarth singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and yielded to pinch runner Brooke Coates. Vanessa Hernandez, a sophomore and returning starter who hit .238 last season, doubled home Coates. Junior transfer Savannah McHellon drove in Hernandez with a base hit.
Dung teamed with batterymate Hackbarth, taking over for departed four-year starter Paige Gumz behind the plate, to pitch out of occasional trouble. The Hoosiers never had more than one runner on base and none reached third.
Trainer was nearly as tough, striking out 13 in her own complete game and allowing three walks.
Against Oregon (4-0), McHellon got the start and went the distance but was touched for four runs on six hits and seven walks while striking out four. Hackbarth homered for the Bulldogs’ only run in the bottom of the fourth – the only real damage off freshman Maggie Balint (6 IP, 3 H, 11 Ks).
The Ducks beat Virginia 11-6 and Creighton 8-0 on Thursday and San Jose State 8-0 earlier Friday.
FRESNO STATE AT KAJIKAWA CLASSIC
- Saturday: 11:15 a.m. vs. Purdue, 2 p.m. vs. University of San Diego
- Of note: Purdue opened with a 2-1 loss to Cal Poly and was to face Arizona State later Friday. … USD faced Cal Poly in an afternoon game and Arizona State at night.