The Fresno State women’s rugby team worked its way into the history books Saturday morning, winning the school’s first conference title in a 59-25 defeat of San Francisco in Vallejo.
The Bulldogs dominated the Dons defensively to capture the USA Rugby West Coast Conference’s Division III trophy.
It was a grudge match between the division’s two best teams that split two games during the regular season. The Dons finished one point ahead of the Bulldogs in the standings, setting up the winner-take-all championship rematch.
Stephanie Rovetti, who starred for the women’s basketball team last season as a senior transfer, scored three tries in the first half and finished the game with five to lead Fresno State. Jenna Balestra, Jack Blackenship, Clarissa Sparks and Nikki Wheeler also scored a try apiece while Cady Riley kicked home seven conversions.
“We stepped up our defensive game,” coach Barry Foley said. “We just have some really good players that tackled really well.”
The Bulldogs are ineligible to compete in the USA Rugby D-III postseason because of their school size but applied for and received an at-large bid to play in Division II, according to Foley.
The Bulldogs await their seeding for the D-II championships, scheduled for April 22-24.
Baseball – Junior outfielder Jake Stone was announced as the Mountain West player of the week Monday after helping Fresno State go 3-1 last week, including two wins over league rival San Jose State where he had a career-high three hits in each game.
Stone led the Bulldogs (16-8) at the plate, going 8 for 15 including five doubles to go with seven runs scored and one RBI.
He leads the team with eight doubles and 19 runs scored and is hitting .325 in 24 starts this season.
The Bulldogs host Long Beach State (16-7) at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday in a single nonconference game at Pete Beiden Field.
Softball – Fresno State (18-9-1) kicks off its Mountain West schedule with a three-game series at Boise State. The series opens with a Tuesday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. followed by a single game Wednesday.
The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 22 in the latest RPI poll released Monday, are 8-9-1 since opening the season undefeated through their first 10 games and will begin their campaign to defend their 2015 Mountain West crown.
The Broncos (8-23, 0-3 MW) opened the season losing 12 straight, and recently lost three straight at Nevada last week to start the conference season.
Track and field – The 4x400-meter relay team of Nailah Harris-Murillo, Dezirae Johnson, Meagan Paracholski and Njeri Omawahleh set a meet record to lead Fresno State at the Cal Poly/ShareSLO Invitational in San Luis Obispo.
The team ran a time of 3 minutes, 44.64 seconds in their first race of 2016, topping the previous event record of 3:45.34 by UCLA in 2010.
The victory highlighted a strong Saturday for the Bulldogs, who set 11 personal records in San Luis Obispo.
Omawahleh ran a personal best in the 100 in 11.93 seconds to win her heat, and relay teammate Harris-Murillo ran the fastest 200 in 24.60, also a personal best.
Equestrian – Fresno State took a handful of United Equestrian Conference awards Saturday as three Bulldogs earned Rider of the Year awards: sophomore Sierra Swaffer (equitation on the flat), junior Taylor Dixon (horsemanship) and freshman Taylor Brown (reining).
The three joined Kylina Chalack (hunt seat) and Rachel Williams (Western) on the all-conference team. Taeya Harle was announced as Freshman of the Year in horsemanship.
Fresno State (4-9), ranked No. 9 in the latest National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) poll, competes next at the NCEA national championships on April 14 in Waco, Texas.
FRESNO STATE VS. LONG BEACH STATE
- Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. at Pete Beiden Field
- Records: Bulldogs 16-8, Dirtbags 16-7
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network/KFIG (AM 940)
- Share-a-Pair Night: Fans will receive one free ticket for every two packages of new kids socks or underwear to be donated to the Marjaree Mason Center and Catholic Charities.