A disappointing start to the Mountain West Conference season seems a distant memory for the Fresno State softball team, now appearing fully capable of living up to its role as the overwhelming preseason title favorite.
The Bulldogs completed a three-game sweep of New Mexico on Wednesday, taking both ends of a doubleheader at Margie Wright Diamond.
Hannah Harris (8-3) pitched a four-hitter in a 4-0 victory in game 1. Jill Compton’s fourth straight complete-game win, and second in the series after taking the opener Tuesday night, highlighted a 4-1 victory in game 2 Wednesday.
The Bulldogs (28-13, 9-3) have won 5 of 6, including a pair last week over a San Diego State team named the biggest threat to Fresno State’s title run. All this after the Bulldogs lost 2 of 3 to San Jose State in their first home conference series.
“We have to win games that we should win and those were three games we should’ve won,” said coach Trisha Ford, with a weekend trip to Utah State (15-24 , 7-5) still ahead, “so I’m excited that we took care of business and now we get on a plane tomorrow to take care of business in Utah.”
Credit tight defense (just one error in the series, none in either game Wednesday), timely hitting (the four runs in game 1 of the doubleheader came on four hits) and dominant pitching (with Compton’s three-hitter as the follow-up to Harris’ gem).
“I always want to do better and I think that I could’ve attacked the zone a little bit better,” said Compton, who walked six in Tuesday’s rain-delayed game but none Wednesday. “I was ahead and could’ve put them away and I need to take it one pitch at a time rather than worrying about the outcome. I’ve had a lot of innings and that comes with confidence and knowing my defense can field behind me. I just try to keep the hitters off balance.”
The Bulldogs are second in the conference in hitting at 3.18 and first in pitching with a 2.49 ERA — with no other team boasting even a sub-3.50 ERA.
“Jill and Hannah both did phenomenal jobs yesterday and today and when you get good pitching you’ll be in a lot of games,” Ford said. “We’re in a tough stretch, nine games in 11 days, but it’s that time of season so we have to focus and remember what our goals are when we hit those dull moments.”
New Mexico fell to 22-19 and 6-6. ) , on the other hand, didn’t hit at all and in the first game issued 12 walks — two short of a Fresno State offensive record set in 1985. Starter Lauren Soles hit four batters, including No. 3 hitter Michelle Solomon twice. Solomon scored twice in the opener and drove in two with a double in game 2.
There’s still the pesky matter of reeling in San Diego State, which continued on its other-than-Fresno State dismantling of conference rivals with a doubleheader sweep at Nevada on Wednesday. The Aztecs (27-14, 10-2) head home to face San Jose State.