Given the stakes, a game for first place, Fresno State’s softball team sure seemed to lack fire and focus.
The Bulldogs showed little sense of urgency from start to finish, mostly a collection of lethargic, uninspiring at-bats.
And 1½ months from now when the regular season is over and there is not a Mountain West Conference tournament to help the Bulldogs secure an NCAA Tournament bid, Fresno State just might realize the impact of its 1-0 loss to San Jose State on Friday.
The Bulldogs generated just three hits and had just one travel beyond the infield while getting blanked in the opener of a three-game Mountain West series at Margie Wright Diamond.
“Something was missing today,” said Bulldogs senior Brenna Moss, who finished 0 for 3 despite entering the game hitting .491. “We were a little off on our game today. Just our energy from the beginning.”
Fresno State (22-11, 3-1) logged its second-fewest hits this season and got shut out for the third time. San Jose State senior Allison Lang continuously attacked the zone and got Fresno State to roll off weak grounders.
The Spartans scored in the first after Michelle Cox led off with double, then crossed home on Sharon-Rena Estrada’s two-out single off Bulldogs starter Jill Compton.
“I think I just need to attack the zone better,” said Compton, who scattered five hits and three walks against a San Jose State team that entered hitting a conference-best .354. “I left some pitches over the plate, and they took advantage of it.”
Fresno State’s offense never countered.
The Bulldogs, who entered the day hitting .325, loaded the bases with one out in the first but came up empty following a strikeout and a groundout.
Fresno State never had another runner reach scoring position. On the Bulldogs’ lone hit that traveled out of the infield, Michelle Solomon was thrown out after rounding too far off first base during the sixth.
“I don’t think we came with a chip on our shoulder tonight,” said third-year Bulldogs coach Trisha Ford. “Every game has got to be a battle. I told them that before the game and reiterated that to them after the game.”
One would think this cast of Bulldogs, though, would have a better understanding of Friday’s importance and how critical each conference game can be.
San Jose State (24-11, 4-0) entered the day tied for first in the conference with defending champ San Diego State (21-12, 4-0) and preseason favorite Fresno State.
And it was only last season that Fresno State finished one game out of first in conference play to fall just short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs have yet to return to an NCAA Regional since their 30-year streak of advancing to the NCAA postseason ended in 2012 — the freshman year for the current seniors.
“Sometimes you’ve got to get a little reality check for you to kind of reignite some fire,” Ford said. “I’m hoping that’s what this did.”
The series continues at 6 p.m. Saturday and wraps up at noon Sunday.