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CSU Softball takes series against New Mexico after Friday’s sit-in

After holding a sit-in last Friday, April 5, to protest inequality in practice facilities between the sports who have men’s teams and those who don’t, the Colorado State softball team brought its strength back to the diamond this weekend to take two of three games from the New Mexico Lobos.

The Rams’ started off slow on Saturday, managing only three runs and eventually losing in extra innings to start the series. The next two games went much better for the Rams as they run-ruled the Lobos in both while combining for 20 runs and nine extra-base hits, cooling any worries that the protest could be a distraction for the Rams.

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“They’re feeling like they have to make a lot of compromises all the time,” coach Jen Fisher said. “I think it galvanized them, but they’ve been that way… it’s just another example of them banding together. They’re really on the same page all the time, but we also have to try and not be distracted by it… They want to have an opportunity to do work, I don’t think they’re asking for much fluff.”

Hutton was strong throughout the first game, but like a few other games this season, she couldn’t completely hold the Lobos down while the Rams struggled to get runners across.

The Rams scored a run in the bottom of the first as Lobos pitcher Jensen Main struggled with her control. Two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a single helped the Rams get one early, but Main calmed down and the Rams cooled off from there. The Rams got two more runs in the top of the fifth to make it 3-1, but couldn’t get Hutton any more support from there.

What would have been a 3-1 gem for Hutton unraveled in the top of the seventh as the Lobos pushed across two runs with two outs to bring the game to extras. After giving up two more runs in the tenth, Hutton was saddled for the loss on a day where the Rams were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

The bats woke up in the next two games as both Alison Petty and Hutton got plenty of run support.

Petty started the second game on Saturday and threw her first complete-game shutout of the season while recording seven strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Rams’ offense showed none of the issues it had in the first game and drove in runners in every inning but the fourth.

Haley Donaldson, who supplied one of the lone RBIs in the first game, continued a hot weekend with a single in the first that scored Sarah Muzik after an error from right field. Six of the Rams’ RBIs came from batters 3-6.

“It helps me being in the third spot because, LB, Madi, Sarah, whoever’s in front of me take a lot of hacks and take a lot of pitches,” Donaldson said. “So by the time they come to me the pitcher kind of makes a mistake. All the hitters before me do their job, just taking as many pitches as they can from the pitcher.“

The 8-0 win was one of Petty’s best starts of the season. For a team that has relied on Hutton and Kaylynn Pierce on the mound, the Rams are starting to run into the fortunate problem of having plenty of capable pitchers on their staff.

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“I think our pitching staff has been super patient and really supportive of each other,” Fisher said. “It’s limited Larisa (Petakoff) a little bit because Alison’s been doing a good job. It’s that old adage, ‘One person doing well doesn’t mean the other person isn’t doing well too.’”

Finally, in the third game, Hutton was back on the mound to try and seal the series victory. This time, the Rams gave her reason to relax as they pushed across nine runs in the first two innings.

Donaldson started the scoring with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first and Hannah McCorkhill began her best day of the season with a single that drove in two runs to make it a quick 4-0 lead. The Rams got their next five runs with help from the Lobos in the second as CSU only recorded two hits to do so. One of them came from McCorkhill who had four RBIs at that point already. The game became out of reach for the Lobos, who lost 12-4.

One of the Rams’ best hitters last year, McCorkhill has struggled in her senior year, but Sunday was a bright spot her and the Rams hope will continue.

“What we see out of Hannah is a great deal of leadership and fight,” Fisher said. “She’s managed to stave off the frustration and do what the team needs her to do… I can’t say enough about her leadership and how tough she’s being.”

McCorkhill echoed her coach’s comments in her own.

“It’s just a matter of being here for four years,” McCorkhill said. “I think by just continuing to keep a strong mental game and having more confidence at the plate then things should start to look up from here.”

McCorkhill and the Rams will try to keep their hot streaks going at the University of Utah from April 13-15 as they take on the Utes in a three-game series that will be aired on the Mountain West Network.

Mack Beaulieu can be reached online at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Macknz_james

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