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Rams softball dominates in shutout series against San Jose State

Colorado+State+University+outfielder+Hailey+Smith+celebrates+a+home+run+with+her+team+during+the+Rams+doubleheader+against+San+Jose+State+University+at+the+CSU+Softball+Complex+April+21.+The+Rams+won+both+games%2C+16-0+and+14-0.
Collegian | Emma Askren
Colorado State University outfielder Hailey Smith celebrates a home run with her team during the Rams’ doubleheader against San Jose State University at the CSU Softball Complex April 21. The Rams won both games, 16-0 and 14-0.

Senior projects, shutouts and stoppages.

After two days of weather delays and cancellations, Colorado State softball got back into the swing of things on the final day of the series. A weekend of what was supposed to be three games across three days shifted into just a doubleheader Sunday, April 21.

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“(The team) really wanted to play Friday,” coach Jen Fisher said. “They literally spent most of the day here just waiting, and that’s tough on a team, but I thought they showed a lot of maturity and just battled through that. And then they were ready to roll yesterday, too. It’s hard — you feel like you’re 6 years old and your T-ball game got rained out or something.”

The games against San Jose State were part of CSU’s Pink Out series, in which all players wear pink jerseys to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

The Barbie-esque jerseys of the Rams shined bright against the dreary backdrop of low-hanging clouds, and with some less-than-ideal weather conditions, CSU was able to pull out a dominant 16-0 win in the first game.

While the weather conditions throughout the weekend were seen by most of the team as an additional stress factor, for one player, the snow and freezing temperatures were a silver lining.

For Sydney Hornbuckle, one of CSU’s starting pitchers and senior Civil Engineering student, the postponement-inducing weather provided a perfect break for Hornbuckle to complete her senior capstone. Perhaps the stress relief of having completed one of the biggest academic projects of her collegiate career led to an incredible first game of the series.

“(The cancellations) were nice because I had my capstone,” Hornbuckle said. “I was running back and forth until we actually canceled the game, so it was kind of like OK — it kind of worked out for me and for engineering.”

Hornbuckle pitched all five innings of the first game, allowing just four hits and no runs from her 71 total pitches.

A shutout game for the first of the doubleheader was exactly the kind of confidence the Rams needed to continue that streak for the next game. The Rams held a dominant lead over the Spartans, forcing them to go scoreless the entire game. The only time the Spartans had a chance of scoring was off a stolen home base attempt, but the point was rescinded when officials realized the Spartans had switched their assigned batting order.

Home runs were clearly a common theme throughout both games but were more frequent in the first. It was clear the Rams were just a bit more comfortable in the cooler weather as Maya Matsubara, Peyton Allen and Hornbuckle all hit home runs.

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“We as a team are like, ‘We could probably persevere through (the cold weather),’” Hornbuckle said. “But for the other teams, it would be a disadvantage, so we wanted things to be fair and square.”

During the weather breaks on both Friday and Saturday, the Ram squad spent the majority of the time waiting together. The quality time spent was something Allen said helped CSU in their wins over SJSU. The Spartans only had 17 at-bats in the first game compared to the Rams’ 26. San Jose State was only able to get runners on base in six of those opportunities and was unable to score off of any of their hits or walks.

“We were all together for almost 12 hours just hanging out,” Allen said. “In a way, that was like team bonding, and even though (the game) got canceled, at the end of the day, we had a lot of quality time together.”

The Rams defense was locked in the entire first game with a fielding percentage of .917. Hornbuckle was one of the main contributors to the solid defensive run the Rams had throughout the matchup.

“Hitting as well as we did just allows us, the pitchers, to play loose,” Hornbuckle said. “It lets us just do whatever we need to do because there’s no pressure to try to keep them down — we can just do our thing.”

And doing their thing was exactly what allowed the Rams to pull away to such a dominant win. Hornbuckle had the only double play of the doubleheader after immediately catching a hit from San Jose State’s Ashley Rico and tossing it to first base for two outs in the third inning.

After such a dominant first game, the Rams knew they needed to come out just as strong in the second game to keep the Spartans scoreless. Colorado State executed that to perfection, scoring two more runs than they did in the previous first inning, sending the Rams to a 6-0 lead before the second inning even began.

The Rams took the second game in an uncontested 14-0 victory. Much like the in the first, pitching made a large impact on the game. However, rather than sticking with one pitcher, both Danielle Serna and Reagan Wick got time on the pitching mound.

Both Serna and Wick created key defensive momentum for the Rams, with both pitchers throwing three strikeouts each while giving up zero runs. By limiting the Spartan scoring, it opened the door for another shutout win for CSU.

Hailey Smith hit her first home run in eight games to score two runs, Allen stole home on a play to add a point to the board and Carolina Buffaloe and Brooke Bohlender were hit in by Allen to score two more runs to add to the Rams’ total.

Colorado State plays Fresno State next from April 26-28. The Rams have yet to play the Bulldogs in regular season competition, but the Bulldogs are third in the conference currently and will prove to be a difficult opponent.

“We’ve got to have that confidence when our backs are against the wall,” Fisher said. “Remember this feeling that we can battle, we can win close counts (and) we can win close games.”

Reach Emma Askren at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @emma_askren.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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