Fresno State survived one elimination game in Seattle, but not a repeat matchup against the nation’s strikeout leader.
The Bulldogs, pushed to the brink by a loss to Michigan on Friday in a four-team regional of the NCAA Tournament, stayed alive by beating Montana 7-0 on Saturday afternoon.
But waiting for them was Michigan and ace Megan Betsa.
After striking out 13 in pitching a one-hitter in a 3-1 victory against Fresno State on Friday, the senior right-hander from McDonough, Ga., fanned 13 more while no-hitting and eliminating the Bulldogs 4-0 on Saturday night.
Michigan was facing elimination itself after losing 12-4 in five innings to No. 7 Washington in Saturday’s early game. But the No. 20 Wolverines (43-12-1) now get a second shot at the Huskies (45-11) at 4 p.m. Sunday.
A second game, if necessary in the double-elimination format, would be at 6:30 p.m.
In the Bulldogs’ win over Montana, sophomore Kamalani Dung improved to 26-14, striking out eight in a two-hitter.
Kierra Willis went 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs and scored a run, doubling to make it 2-0 in the fourth and getting an infield hit to push the lead to 3-0 in the sixth.
Fresno State managed just two walks – one each in the fourth and fifth innings – in its second go-round versus Betsa, who induced an infield popout before striking out two against the Bulldogs’ 3-4-5 hitters to close it out in the seventh.
First-year coach Linda Garza and her Bulldogs finish 35-23. She arrived last summer after four season at UC Riverside in a homecoming for the former Hoover High standout, directing Fresno State to a third straight NCAA Tournament bid and 33rd in program history.
Last year, Fresno State went 1-2 at the Los Angeles Regional, defeating Bakersfield and falling to Cal State Fullerton twice.
Five of the eight starters in the finale against Michigan, plus Dung, are due back in 2018. Lost are seniors in designated player and leadoff hitter Malia Rivers, catcher and cleanup hitter Lindsey Willmon and left fielder Willis.