CSU falls out of contention for title, swept on senior day weekend

Mack Beaulieu

The Colorado State Rams officially fell out of contention for a Mountain West Championship over the weekend, losing three straight games to the Boise State Broncos. The team got decent performances from Alison Petty and Bridgette Hutton, but never managed to drive in many runs over the course of a weekend that included a hard senior day loss.

After putting up only seven runs in their last series with San Diego State, the Rams only scored four runs against the Broncos. The Rams pitching and defense was strong, but without playing a complete game, the Rams could not grab a win.

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“A team like that just exposes your weaknesses,” coach Jen Fisher said. “They have so many weapons they can come at you with on the mound … We couldn’t string anything together and they have a pretty solid defense, so a team like that is just going to kind of expose your weaknesses.”

The Rams’ rough weekend started out with a game that was still within reach until the final out, but they never got the necessary run support after the Broncos went up in the second inning on a solo home run off of Hutton.

Sarah Muzik played her role extremely well as always, and the speedy .400 hitter manufactured a run almost by herself, but it was all the Rams could get. Muzik got from first-to-third on a Lauren Buchanan bunt and then stole home when the Broncos failed to cover.

“I don’t have to say anything to her,” Fisher said. “I try not to and just tell her to go on her instincts and she’ll never be in trouble for being aggressive. She does just that and it’s fun to watch.”

The Broncos took the lead again in the top of the fifth after an error allowed the lead-off batter to get to third, with the next batter coming through with a fielder’s choice RBI. BSU added two more insurance runs, but they were not necessary. The Rams failed to get another runner past second.

The Broncos jumped out early in the second game as they tacked four runs on Kaylynn Pierce, before she even recorded an out. Petty came in to relieve Pierce and gave the Rams seven innings, giving up three runs, but the Rams could not recover from the early deficit.

“Kaylynn is such a competitor and that just wasn’t her and it happens,” Fisher said. “But Alison did a great job and she was ready to go when we needed her and when Kaylynn needed her.”

The Rams managed only one difficult run in the bottom of the third, manufacturing it like the day before, with Muzik and Danni Klein advancing Ashley Michelena home with the help of a Boise State error and some heads-up base running. That was all for the Rams, despite threatening a couple more times as they fell 7-1.

The third game of the series was more of the same with Hutton keeping the game close until the seventh inning and the offense struggling to get runners across the plate. It looked as if the Rams might get something going many times throughout the day, but every time they were close to scoring, they ended up smothered.

In the sixth inning, the Rams were finally able to break through and Madison Kilcrease continued to try to make the most of her 3-3 senior day with an RBI single that scored Corina Gamboa, who had doubled earlier in the inning. It was 3-1 at that point, prior to Hutton giving up four runs in the top of the seventh.

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The Rams got one more run in bottom of the seventh, as Haley Donaldson drove in Muzik for the Rams final run of the game. It seemed as if the Rams were finally starting to get going, but it was too little, too late, as they fell 7-2.

“We just have to figure out how to survive the slumps and get out of them quicker,” Fisher said. “It’s the hardest thing to do in sports and we need to get better at it.”

Despite the hard loss, Fisher praised the seniors being honored for the day, saying they all have brought something different to the team and paying specific respects to Hannah McCorkhill’s knowledge of the game; Kilcrease’s four years of heavy contributing, Hayleigh Evans’ humor and leadership, Larisa Petakoff’s on and off the field drive and Pierce’s level of competitiveness and defensive contributions.

The Rams will come together for one last time in the regular season when they play against UNLV, May 10-12.

Mack Beaulieu is a sports reporter for the Collegian who can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Macknz_James