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Wildcats set new home run record in series sweep of Monterey Bay

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The Wildcats celebrate following Bailey Akins home run that broke the record for most as a team in a single season. Photo credit: Martin Chang

The Wildcats celebrate following Bailey Akins home run that broke the record for most as a team in a single season. Photo credit: Martin Chang

The Wildcats celebrate following Bailey Akins home run that broke the record for most as a team in a single season. Photo credit: Martin Chang

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Entering the final two games of the series Saturday against Cal State Monterey Bay, the Chico State softball team needed just one home run to tie the record for most home runs as a team in a single season.

The Wildcats didn’t wait long. In the third inning of game one, Ari Marsh went deep for her second home run on the year and the first in just more than a month to tie the record at 26.

Marsh mentioned that she has widened her stance this weekend in an attempt to get her legs more involved in her swing, and she did just that.

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Ari Marsh hitting the record tying home run against Cal State Monterey Bay. Photo Courtesy: Janna Weiss Photography

However just two innings later, the team leader in home runs, Bailey Akins drove the ball over the center field fence for her eighth home run on the year and the Wildcats’ home run number 27 on the year, breaking the record.

Marsh, a junior, noticed a differenced between this year’s team compared to years past’s teams. “We have way better chemistry on the field and off the field. We have an electric atmosphere around here and we all want to be here and win. We have so much passion and fire within us it’s a whole different approach,” said Marsh.

Chico State head coach Angel Shamblin mentioned that this is one of the best team’s offensively she has had in her nine years at Chico State. However with great pitching in the circle thus far, it is no coincidence that the Chico State lineup is strong as well.

When asked about how this team came together, Shamblin said, “We weren’t necessarily looking for power, but we knew we were going to be good in the circle, so we were looking for people who could help us put up runs on the board.”

Individual home run leader, Bailey Akins started out the season on fire with five home runs in the first 10 games. She then had a nine game homer-less stretch before hitting three more in the last six games. “I am not trying to hit the long ball, but my approach is to hit the ball hard and take it one pitch at a time,” said Akins.

Akins talked about talked about what she has been working on this season to help her success at the plate and said, “I have been noticing my weaknesses and have been working on making the spots I struggle with my strengths instead.”

In game one, Wildcats’ pitcher Haley Gilham shut down the Otters once again, following her no hitter Friday with a complete game shutout Saturday, this time allowing just three hits. She finished her strong weekend with her first save of the season for the Wildcats.

In game two, it was shortstop Wendy Cardinali who shined for the Wildcats finishing with two hits and four RBIs including a three-run home run in the second inning to give the Wildcats an early 5-0 advantage. Cardinali now has five home runs on the year and makes the record 28 for the Wildcats as a team.

Now 25 games into the season and with 26 games remaining, it can now be assured this is in fact a record breaking season for the Wildcats.

Justin Couchot can be reached at [email protected] or @JCouchot_Sports on Twitter.

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Wildcats set new home run record in series sweep of Monterey Bay