Senior day ended in heartbreak for the Colorado State softball team, as the Rams were defeated 5-2 by Fresno State Saturday afternoon on campus.
“When (the senior’s) two moms were out there throwing the first pitches I said ‘these are four of the strongest women I know right here,’” head coach Jen Fisher said after the game. “I am going away with not a lot of tears because I am just so proud and happy for them.”
Despite the score appearing somewhat lopsided, the Bulldogs ultimately secured the victory with a seventh inning grand slam.
Fresno State (34-21, 14-9 MW) put their Pitcher of the Year candidate, Kamalani Dung, in for the third game after pitching all of the previous two games. She capped off the series with a complete game, giving up two runs, and recording four strikeouts.
Throughout the majority of the contest, both squads put on a pitching clinic, as both pitchers dominated the opposing lineups all game. Primarily by getting batters to ground out or hit easy pop ups.
The Rams (28-22, 9-15 MW) took a 1-0 deficit into the sixth inning, before sophomore Amber Nelson hit her 12th home run of the season to put the Rams up 2-1, with only three outs away from securing the first series victory over the Bulldogs since 2013.
It would not work out for the Rams though. Sophomore Bridgette Hutton did not possess the same command she had in the first six innings, and after giving up multiple walks and a single, Fresno State’s Vanessa Hernandez answered the bell with a homerun over the left center fence to put the Bulldogs up three.
The Rams looked to rally in the bottom of the seventh, but would do down one-two-three.
“I feel terrible for Bridgette because she feels like she let the team down,” Haley Hutton said. “That is not the case. She made them look silly all weekend.”
The Rams coach echoed similar statements. “Bridgette (Hutton) had been inducing ground balls all day,” Fisher said. “She was doing great even in that last inning… there is no way in the world that a grand slam takes away from the fight.”
B. Hutton finished the game with all seven innings pitched, five earned runs and three strikes. Her sister, Haley picked up one hit, leaving her one hit shy of the all-time CSU record.
H. Hutton finishes a historic CSU career with the most runs scored (190), walks (118) and highest batting average in program history (.384). She also finished second in hits (251) and fourth in steals (48).
“I’ve come to terms with myself and my career,” Haley Hutton said. “I know that I laid it all out on the field and I have no regrets. I think Taryn would say the same too. It’s been so fun playing with her. I feel like we can read each other’s minds. I’m sad, but I’m okay.”
The loss leaves the Rams in seventh place in the Mountain West as they were able to win only two conference series all year. However, those two were against the teams that finished first and second, the San Jose State Spartans and the San Diego State Aztecs.
Despite not finishing near the top of the conference, the infield duo of Arcarese and Hutton set the standard for every Rams softball player to try to live up to. Fisher knows it will be hard to replace them, but feels confident in her team going into next year.
“If we can build on the legacy that Taryn and Haley have left there is absolutely nothing to feel bad about,” Fisher said. “Moving forward we have to reload with middles like them (the seniors)…those juniors are showing a lot of promise.”
For now, the team is celebrating the success of their senior duo, a couple stalwart Rams that the team will look to emulate next season.
“Right now I am not as emotional as I was planning to be,” Arcarese said. “Probably tomorrow at our banquet when everything finally wraps up that’s probably when I’ll be a little more emotional.”
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Ajwrules44.