The Sonoma State Seawolves ended a four game series down, 3-1, against the Chico Wildcats last weekend.
Yet the three losses weren’t an unexpected result for the Seawolves—it’s the one win that came as a surprise. They were the underdogs in the matchup. Last year the Wildcats ranked sixth in the nation, and at the end of the season they graduated only three of their players, leaving much of their championship team intact.
“I’m really proud of our girls,” Seawolves coach, Jennifer Bridges, said. “From our performance yesterday to our performance today. We came out and attacked it.”
The series got off to inauspicious start for the Seawolves.
In the first inning of the first game the Wildcats’ pitcher, Brooke Larsen, smacked the ball up the center field for a double. A few minutes later, her teammate, Bailey Akins, brought her home after she hit a single up the first base line. Everything told the Wildcats managed a full five runs before the Seawolves could bring the inning to a close. Three more runs throughout the rest the game ended things with a Wildcat victory at a dismal 8-0.
The Seawolves battled back later that same day when their outfielder, Cameron Kirtland, knocked the ball far out to right field for a double. A few bats later she went home after a hit to center field by Jordann White which gave her enough time to round third and run for home—giving the Seawolves a two run lead by the end of the first inning. The Seawolves clung to that lead for the rest of the match, closing things out with their only victory for the series at 6-5.
“We could do better, always,” Seawolves’ outfielder, Alee Balanon, said. “That [first] loss brought a lot of fire for us. We came back and just wanted to beat the crap out of them.”
Inspired by their victory the day before, the Seawolves entered the second to the last game with a purpose; they landed five runs in the first inning, building a solid lead. The Wildcats matched it in the third and fourth with a five run scoring streak of their own. That gave them the lead, and despite a home run by the Seawolves’ utility player, Lindsey Calcany Blair, late in the fifth inning Sonoma State was unable to keep pace.
The game ended with an 8-6 Seawolves loss.
For the finale the Seawolves firmed up their defense. They kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard all the way up to the sixth inning—then it all fell apart. Wildcats stocked the bases with two players and then sent their infielder, Bailey Akins, up to bat. Akins knocked it out of the park. She circled the bases and brought her teammates home, giving her team a commanding lead.
The game and the series closed out with a 4-1 Wildcats victory.
Playing four games against one team is always tough and this conference is so strong all around. Any game can be a different story,” Bridges said. “We get pumped up. We talk about it and get psyched. I think we wanted to show them that like yesterday wasn’t who we are.”