What began as a special afternoon at Margie Wright Diamond took a suprising downturn Saturday, as the Fresno State softball team saw its perfect run in the Mountain West Conference come to an end in a 10-7 loss to UNLV in the regular-season finale.
The Bulldogs (41-10-1, 22-1) couldn’t keep up as the Rebels rallied from a two-run deficit in the top of the fourth to help squash Fresno State’s shot at becoming the first team in conference history to complete the undefeated feat.
Also dashed were the No. 17/19 Bulldogs’ 23-game winning streak, which had led the nation, and a 32-game run in conference play that dates to last season.
“We never put our foot on the gas pedal today,” coach Trisha Ford said. “I think we took it for granted a little bit.”
Two Fresno State errors in the fourth saw a 5-3 lead transform into a 7-5 deficit as UNLV (24-31, 8-16) took the lead on back-to-back RBI singles from Francesca Foti and Chrissi Omalza. Brooke Stover pushed the lead to three with a solo homer in the sixth.
The Bulldogs drew closer in the sixth, making it a 8-7 ballgame on Whitney Smith’s two-run homer.
But the comeback fizzled there, as the Rebels added two more in the top of the seventh on another Foti hit and Alyssa Cordova’s run-scoring triple.
Ace starter Jill Compton (24-5, 15-1) took her first loss at home in more than a year, dating to March 29, 2015 when the Bulldogs fell 9-7 to San Jose State.
Compton gave up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits while striking out five and walking three in four innings. Freshman Kamalani Dung threw two innings of relief before senior Taylor Langdon closed out the seventh.
It was a bittersweet postgame ceremony as the Bulldogs were presented with the Mountain West championship trophy, but most of the 1,253 fans remained to give one of the better teams in program history a standing ovation.
Senior catcher Paige Gumz thanked the fans for coming out, despite not winning on Senior Day. But the defeat couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Ford, even with a little momentum potentially lost ahead of the Bulldogs’ postseason run in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think it’s a good reality check for us. One I was hoping we didn’t have to learn, but we did,” Ford said. “And the good thing is we still get to play.
“We’ve got to rebound from this loss and it’s been a while since they’ve lost. So I told them, ‘You make sure this hurts because you don’t want this to go on from here on out,’ ” she added.
Fresno State will find out its postseason destination during the NCAA Selection Show at 7 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
CSUB wins WAC – Cal State Bakersfield completed an improbable run to an automatic NCAA berth, getting two-out homer from Jo Larios in the top of the seventh as the Roadrunners beat New Mexico State 1-0 for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title.
The Roadrunners (16-32) feature a strong central Valley contingent in Sydney Raeber (Hanford High), Makenzie Zinger (Redwood), Briana Pontecorvo (Hanford West), Amber Mills (Clovis West), Kaylynn Burt (Central) and Maddi Clark (Clovis West.
NCAA selection Sunday
- Sunday: 7 p.m. on ESPNU (Comcast 420/788, AT&T U-Verse 605/1605, DirecTV 208, DISH Network 141)
- At stake: No. 17/19 Fresno State has locked up an NCAA Tournament berth but is bidding to be one of 16 regional hosts. Each site will feature a four-team, double-elimination tournament May 20-22.