The bats came alive and junior Kacie McCarthy pitched lights-out in a battle against in-state rival Northern Colorado at Ram Field on Wednesday afternoon as the CSU softball team rolled to a 10-0 victory in 5 innings.
McCarthy was dominant on the mound from the get-go, fanning two batters in the first inning and striking out a total of seven on the game.
CSU wasted no time in taking the lead thanks to great base running by junior Ashlie Ortega and an RBI single from junior Alysa Greckel to give the Rams an 2-0 lead in the first.
“Kacie did her homework,” said CSU coach Jen Fisher. “She was in attack mode and it really made it easy for the defense to make plays when they needed to.”
In the second inning, the Bears threatened to even the score with runners on second and third base with just one out. However, McCarthy was able to keep her cool and work her way out of the jam.
“Getting those second and third batters to pop up and get out of that inning was really great to keep the game going in our favor instead of letting it roll into theirs,” McCarthy said.
The third inning was a memorable one for the Rams, who tallied eight runs on six hits in a shelling of UNC pitcher Mikayla Duffy. Duffy struggled to find the strike zone all day, and the Rams exploited her when she did.
The Rams moved through their entire order in the third, rallying around clutch hits from junior infielder Kendall Butterfield and sophomore outfielder Molly Randle.
CSU built their lead not because of big hits, but rather by playing small ball.
“I was actually most proud of the baserunning,” Fisher said.
The Rams magnified Duffy’s mistakes by making smart plays on the bag. A steal here, a line drive there, and before they knew it they were up 10-0.
“The little things are what we have been emphasizing, and they have been the difference for us in certain games because we have played a lot of close games, so that really makes me happy,” Fisher said.
The offense provided McCarthy with some much-needed run support, which has been a problem for them the past two weeks.
“Having that support was really mind-easing on the mound,” McCarthy said. “I was trying to work the batters and give myself room to go after those batters with different pitches, and having our girls be relaxed at the plate made that easier for me.”
This was a statement game for the Rams (9-12), who will get some much needed rest before they head to San Diego for another six game stretch next week that leads right into league play.
“We have time to catch our breaths a little bit, which we really need,” Fisher said. “Now we have time to step back, study some film, and get back to basics.”
Softball Beat Reporter Tyrus Coder can be reached at email@example.com