Softball off to solid start with Sunday’s superior hitting

Published 2007-02-06T00:00:00Z”/>


Vince Abbate

The return of the Chico State softball team produced mixed results when it split its games 3-3 at the Best of the West Tournament in Turlock last weekend.

The season began Friday afternoon with a loss to Notre Dame de Namur 5-4 in the first of the tournament’s six games.

The ‘Cats were able to bounce back in the second game of the day’s doubleheader with a series of home runs by Chelsea Lundberg, Allison Smith and Jenny Williams. A Jennifer Chacon single scored Lundberg and Megan Bera in the seventh, tying the game 7-7, sending the ‘Cats into extra innings against Cal State Monterey Bay. The Wildcats scored again in the eighth to win their first game of the season, which was also the first win for new head coach Jamie Brown.

The ‘Cats ran into trouble Saturday while facing San Francisco State and Cal State Stanislaus, which were ranked in the top 25 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

The Wildcats scored first in the game against San Francisco State when Christine Johnson reached home on an RBI single by Jennifer Chacon. San Francisco State answered back in the bottom of the inning when Carrie Arth homered, driving in three runs to take the lead. The ‘Cats tied the game in the seventh with four runs each, but San Francisco State scored the go-ahead run later in the inning for the win.

Saturday’s doubleheader ended with Cal State Stanislaus, which blew out the Wildcats 11-1.

When the ‘Cats took the field Sunday for the tournament’s final two games, they brought hot bats with them. They demolished UC San Diego 8-1, with contributions from Rachel Gendron who went 2-4 with 3 RBIs, and pitcher Vanessa Zboril’s four-inning, three-hit effort.

In the ‘Cats final game against Cal State Dominguez Hills, they were able to score early and held a 3-2 lead to end the day with back-to-back wins.

“I think we made a huge adjustment in a 24-hour span going into Sunday,” coach Jamie Brown said. “We starting seeing the ball better and started hitting the ball better.”

Last weekend’s games gave the ‘Cats a winning percentage of .500, an even record. The team shares the No. 3 overall standing with Cal State Dominguez Hills in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Brown stressed the importance of starting strong before the season began. The Wildcats’ last season was canceled in March after an underage recruit was treated for alcohol poisoning during a recruitment visit in Chico.

Bringing home a winning record after the tournament would have helped the team’s morale, Brown said.

“We started out a little rusty as can be expected,” Brown said, “but that always happens when you first start out.”

Next for the Wildcats is a two-game set against Cal State Bakersfield on the road Friday and Saturday. They face Azusa Pacific on Feb. 19 in the season’s first home game.

Vince Abbate can be reached at <a>[email protected]</a>