Fresno State

Fresno State softball clinches MW title, NCAA bid

Fresno State softball coach Trisha Ford led the Bulldogs to their second straight Mountain West Conference championship in her fourth season as coach.
Fresno State softball coach Trisha Ford led the Bulldogs to their second straight Mountain West Conference championship in her fourth season as coach. Fresno Bee file

Fresno State powered its way to a second straight Mountain West softball championship and clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday while extending the best start in conference history.

The No. 20 Bulldogs slugged three home runs – including Vanessa Hernandez’s go-ahead solo shot in the top of the fourth inning – during a 6-4 victory that completed a three-game series sweep of host San Jose State.

Fresno State (37-9-1, 18-0) wrapped up the Mountain West title with six conference games to play.

The Bulldogs, winners of a national-best 19 straight games, will begin postseason play in an NCAA Regional on May 20. They close the season with three games at Nevada (May 6-8) and three at Margie Wright Diamond against UNLV (May 12-14).

San Jose State (22-24, 11-7) led 4-2 through three innings, but Fresno State’s Paige Gumz led off the top of the fourth with a single followed by Lindsey Willmon’s two-run homer, her 11th of the season.

The Bulldogs added to their lead in the fifth when Kierra Willis led off with a walk and scored on Alyssa Villalpando’s double. Fresno State also received a run-scoring single from Gumz in the first inning and a solo home run from Willis, her seventh, in the third.

Fresno State’s rally made a winner of Jill Compton (21-4), who allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks. She allowed only two runners after the Bulldogs took the lead in the fourth. Compton finished with four strikeouts, raising her career total to 659.

Gumz, Willis, Villalpando and Willmon collected two hits each as the Bulldogs finished with 10 against Spartans pitcher Katelyn Linford.

Former Central High standout catcher Alyssa Avila went 0 for 2 for San Jose State.

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