Fresno State Falls to No. 20 Michigan in the NCAA Softball Championship Seattle Regional Opener

Release courtesy of Fresno State Athletics

SEATTLE, Wash. - The Fresno State softball team fell 3-1 to No. 20 Michigan on Friday evening in the first game of the Seattle Regional of the NCAA Tournament at Husky Softball Stadium. The nation's strikeout leader, Megan Betsa, who came into the game with 376 strikeouts in 214 innings, got the best of the Bulldogs on Friday, striking out 13 and allowing one run on one hit and four walks.

Sophomore ace Kamalani Dung (25-14, 2.21 ERA), who has pitched every inning in the last 10 games for the Bulldogs, started the second postseason game of her career, throwing all seven innings and allowing three runs on four hits and four walks, striking out six. Freshman Miranda Rohleder notched Fresno State's lone hit, doubling in the top of the first.

"I think it was a good battle between two great pitchers," Fresno State head coach Linda Garza said. "Going into this game we knew it was going to be a battle offensively for us . . . we knew that Kamalani would be able to stay with Michigan and keep us in the game from a pitching perspective. I'm definitely proud of our athletes in the way that we competed and I'm looking forward to the rest of the tournament."

The Bulldogs went down 1-0 in the second after the Wolverines hit a single with the bases loaded, but tied it up in the fifth, thanks to senior Kierra Willis, who has reached base in the last seven games, took a free pass, advanced to third on an error and scored on a fly ball in foul territory. Michigan re-took the lead in the bottom of the fifth after they loaded the bases again and hit a two-run single.

Fresno State (34-22) has now lost its last three NCAA Regional openers, but looks to keep its postseason hopes alive when the Bulldogs face either No. 7 Washington or Montana on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. PT in the four-team, double-elimination tournament at Husky Softball Stadium.

How it happened
Rohleder attempted to get things going with a one-out double in the top of the first, but was left stranded. Dung then came into the circle in the bottom of the frame and struck out the first and third batters she faced to keep the game scoreless after one. In the bottom of the second, Dung gave up three straight one-out walks and the Wolverines scored on a two-out single up the middle, however Hernandez ended the inning by throwing out a runner at the plate.

In the fourth, Rohleder led things off with a walk, but was left on base again. The Wolverines were able to get a runner on second base in the bottom half, but Dung struck out her fourth batter to hold Michigan to a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs tied the game 1-1 in the top of the fifth. Willis led off with a free pass, advanced to third on a fielding error and scored after tagging up on a fly ball in foul territory. The Wolverines then loaded the bases up again in the bottom of the fifth and hit a two-run single to make it 3-1. The Bulldogs attempted to rally as Willis got the seventh inning started with a walk, but Fresno State was unsuccessful.