Fresno State got right to business Sunday afternoon with its offense setting the pace in an 8-5 victory over San Diego State to complete a Mountain West softball series sweep at Margie Wright Diamond.
The 25th-ranked Bulldogs (24-9-1, 6-0 MW) quickly erased a two-run deficit in the bottom of the first and held off the Aztecs to match their best start in conference play since 2011, when they went 6-0 to open a Western Athletic Conference campaign.
Malia Rivers and Alyssa Villalpando led the Bulldogs’ offense, going 3 for 4 and 2 for 3 with a combined five RBIs and four runs scored.
Down 2-1 in the first, Villalpando hit a shallow double to the gap in right center to score Rivers for the tying run. After a groundout, Lindsey Willmon brought Villalpando home on a single up the middle for the go-ahead run.
The runs put confidence into the Bulldogs’ defense heading into the second, as starting pitcher Jill Compton and the infield retired the side in order on ground outs.
Fresno State’s offense continued rolling in the bottom of the second, putting together a three-hit rally with two outs.
After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Bria Kennedy stole second and eventually scored on Rivers’ base hit that resulted in an Aztecs’ error at first base.
Kierra Willis doubled to put runners in scoring position, setting up Villalpando’s three-run home run that sailed over the hill beyond the left field wall for a 7-2 lead.
“Our bats are solid,” Bulldogs coach Trisha Ford said after the series finale. “I was just happy with our effort today.”
Ford credited the offense’s quick response behind Compton, now 4-0 in Mountain West games and 14-4 overall.
“You can see a totally different team with Jill on the hump,” Ford said. “Our team wants her on the mound and they’re here to get her back.”
Compton gave up six hits for five runs (two earned), walked three batters and struck out four, but was at ease with her defense behind her.
Twice the senior ace encountered the potential tying run at the plate, and both times she escaped the jams unscathed.
The Aztecs (21-16, 3-6) scored two runs in the third after Compton dished three one-out walks to load the bases, scoring via a sacrifice fly and outfield single.
With runners on the corners and two out, Compton got out of the inning by getting Frankie Orlando to ground out to second base.
In the fifth, the Aztecs threatened again on Molly Sturdivant’s one-out RBI double to trail 7-5 but Compton got back into her zone, getting the last two batters out on a strikeout and ground out.
“I’m just happy we got the win,” said Compton, the reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Year.
“I’m just going out there and giving it all my effort and I know my defense has my back and right now our sticks are hot so I’m just pitching how I know how to pitch.”
The Bulldogs, winners of six in a row and eight of their last nine, resume action with a three-game series at New Mexico (18-14, 3-3) starting Friday.
MOUNTAIN WEST: FRESNO STATE AT NEW MEXICO
- Series: 4 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday
- Records: Bulldogs 24-9-1, 6-0 MW; Lobos 18-14, 3-3
- Webcast: Mountain West Network