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By: Nic Hallisey
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State softball program returned to its home field on Wednesday, notching a 10-0 shutout in five innings against intrastate rival Northern Colorado.
The Rams led from start to finish, taking advantage of an Ashlie Ortega leadoff double to left field. Ortega, and junior Kendal Butterfield, would come around to score on Alysa Greckel's two-out infield single.
"I thought the early led really helped us," Head Coach Jen Fisher said. "It helped us get comfortable, but not complacent."
The two runs would be all that CSU would need, as starting pitcher Kacie McCarthy held the Bears to just two hits and a walk over five innings of work. But the Rams' offense wasn't finished, exploding in the third inning by batting around and tacking on eight runs.
With one out, Butterfield, Cassy Mosser and Emily Pohl each singled to load the bases. Two batters later, with two outs, Danielle Wikre singled to left, plating Mosser. Chelsea Biglow then walked, and Taylor Hutton reached on an error, setting up a Molly Randle single to right field which brought in an unearned run. After UNC made a pitching change Randle stole second, Ortega walked and Butterfield had a bases-clearing double to score two more.
"We've been emphasizing to our kids to do the little things right," Fisher said. "When we do the small things, we've been good, and a lot of times have won games. We're trying to get them to play with a little bit more of an edge."
McCarthy (6-5) needed to face just seven more batters over the final two frames, allowing a single base runner and striking out three to seal the victory in five innings.
She struck out seven on the evening, surrendering one walk and two hits in the complete-game shutout.
"Kacie's preparation was great," Fisher said. "She did her homework, she came to play and she made it easy for the defense to make plays. She got a lot of ground balls and balls off the end of the bat.
Offensively, CSU was efficient, leaving just two runners on the bags. Seven different Rams earned a hit, led by Butterfield's 2-for-2 night. She also added two runs, two RBIs, a walk and a stolen base.
The Rams will next travel to San Diego, Calif., for the San Diego Classic II. The three-day tournament (March 15-17), will feature games against Fairfield, Harvard, Massachusetts, Miami (Ohio) and Seton Hall.