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Wildcats softball earn spot in NCAA West Regional Final with 2-0 start

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After winnings the first two games at home of the NCAA West Regional, the Chico State softball team has now won 27 in a row and has earned a spot in the NCAA West Regional final on Saturday morning. The Wildcats are now 52-3 on the season.

Chico State entered the NCAA West Regionals tournament as the No. 1 seed, following a victory in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. With wins over Northwest Nazarene Thursday (5-2), and Cal Baptist (3-0) Friday, the Wildcats advance to the finals in a rematch against Cal Baptist. The rematch should be a good one as the two teams went scoreless through eight innings Friday.

One win for Chico State or two wins for Cal Baptist will mean a birth to the NCAA West Super Regional next week. Game one begins at 11 a.m. Sunday followed by a second game if Chico losses game one.

Game one

Game one on Thursday was a slow start for the Wildcats bats despite a 5-2 victory. Pitcher Haley Gilham was able to keep the Nighthawks scoreless after the first three innings before allowing two runs in the fourth on a throwing error.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning when the ’Cats began their rally after catcher Claire Wayne hit a solo home run to left center cutting the lead to 2-1. After struggling at the plate recently, Wayne, “got it when it mattered.”

“Even though I didn’t have the season I wanted to personally, that was huge for me. Undescribable. I was sprinting around the bases I was so excited,” said Wayne.

With bases loaded, Amanda Flores was hit by the pitch to tie the game at two. Left fielder Megan Bowley then walked, advancing runners once again giving Chico State a 3-2 lead.

Kristen Worley then stepped up and gave the Wildcats some insurance and singled to left center field scoring Angel Lopez and Bailey Akins. Haley Gilham then got three straight outs to end the game 5-2.

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Kristin Worley watches her two-run hit in the bottom of the sixth during the Wildcats’ first NCAA West Regional game against Northwest Nazarene. This hit blew the game open by extending the lead 5-2. Photo credit: Martin Chang


Game two

Game two was a pitcher’s duel for Chico State and Cal Baptist, the the Wildcats ace was able to pull through once again.

Gilham pitched all nine innings necessary in game two to win, following a scoreless eight innings on both sides to start.

“We knew they were a great hitting team. They’ve always been for the past three years we have faced them so we just knew as long as we got those ground balls, our defense would D up,” Gilham said.

Both pitchers went back and forth getting out of jams as it seemed to be anyone’s game until the ninth inning. A Lancer error, and back-to-back hit by pitches brought Chico State’s leader in hits on the year Ari Marsh to bat. Marsh delivered an opposite field double to left field, scoring all three Wildats on the bases and give Chico State a 3-0 advantage. Gilham took care of the Lancers in the bottom of the ninth to the Chico the win.

Marsh Resize.jpg

Junior Ari Marsh delivered the go-ahead 3 RBI double to defeat Cal Baptist Photo credit: Martin Chang

The Wildcats will now play in today’s NCAA West Regional Final at 11 a.m. against California Baptist University. With a Chico State win, the tournament is over. With a Cal Baptist win in game one, the two will be forced to play a second game following to determine a winner.

Katalina Santamaria can be reached at [email protected] or @katalinaleanet on Twitter.

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Wildcats softball earn spot in NCAA West Regional Final with 2-0 start