Stockton, Calif. - Hosting the Louisville Slugger Invitational and playing at home for the first time in 2012, the Pacific softball team made the most of the friendly confines of Bill Simoni Field to net a pair of wins on day one of the tournamnent on Friday, March 2. The Tigers defeated Sacramento State, 9-6, to begin their day before following up their opening victory with a 6-1 win over Delaware. The wins moved the Tigers to 8-6 on the year and secured Pacific no worse than the No. 2 seed in the tournament's championship rounds on Saturday evening.
Pacific's big day was made possible by a power surge at the plate, sparked by the career day of senior Nicole Matson. Slowly coming alive at the plate over the last two weeks, Matson burst to life at her home field belting three home runs, including her first career two-home run game against the Blue Hens in the night cap, while netting nine RBI over the two games. The senior went 4-for-5 at the plate in official at bats, knocking in runs with each of her successful hits to guide the Tigers' offensive outbust. For Matson, the three home runs moved her into sole possession of No. 2 on the Tigers' all-time home runs list with 29 career round-trippers.
In the first game of the day, the Tigers held on for a 9-6 win over their nemesis from Sacramento State as the Hornets attempted to mount a last ditch, seventh inning, rally against Pacific before having the door slammed shut. Prior to seeing the Hornets rally for three runs in the seventh, the Tigers built a 9-3 lead over six innings of play with both power and precision.
Starting things off, Matson got the Tigers on the board in the first inning with her first home run of the day, a three-run shot to left field. After seeing the Hornets answer in the third with their own three-run home run to left, Pacific immediately took back the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when sophomore Megan Foglesong found her own power stroke. Foglesong's lined solo shot over the left field fence was the first career home run for the young left fielder.
Pacific would tack on two more in the fifth on Matson's only non home run hit of the day, a two-RBI single up the middle. Matson's five RBI in the game was a career high for the senior. In the sixth, the Tigers plated three critical runs as the top of the order took advantage of walks to the bottom part of the order to get a scoring run started.
In the circle, junior Nikki Armagost grabbed the win to move to 4-2 as she threw four innings while giving up six hits and three runs while striking out three and walking three. In relief, Pacific saw their closer stumble slightly in the seventh after pitching two brilliant innings in the fifth and the sixth, as sophomore Tori Shepard grabbed her fourth save of the year and third game in a row. She went three innings and allowed five hits and three runs, even allowing the Hornets to load the bases in the seventh before closing them out for the Tiger victory.
In game two, the Tigers witnessed their senior shortstop continue to put on a show as Matson accounted for four of Pacific's six runs with two mighty swings of the bat. After picking up a single run in the first on a RBI ground out by junior Amy Moore, the Tigers saw Matson hammer the Blue Hens pitching with a solo shot over Pacific's new scoreboard in left center in the third and a three-run bomb in the sixth to put the game away. Outside of Moore's opening RBI and Matson's four spot, Armagost was the only other Tiger to drive in a run as she singled home junior Megan Allen in the fourth when the game was still in doubt. Armagost went 2-for-3 in the game and finished her day 3-for-6 at the plate.
Picking up the start in the circle for the Tigers, freshman Dani Bonnet smoothed over a rough start to her contest to pick up her third win of the year and move to 3-1 overall. Coming off the biggest win of her young career, Bonnet needed some time to find her way against the Blue Hens as the freshman gave up one run in the first after loading the bases with no outs in the inning. The damage could have been far worse for Bonnet, but her defense came through when called upon as junior Megan Hom threw out a runner at the plate to end the inning to pick up her fourth outfield assist of the year. Bonnet pitched out of another jam in the fifth before sailing through the sixth and seventh innings to pick up her second complete game win.
Pacific will be back in action on Saturday, March 3, when the team hosts No. 3 Washington in the final game round robin play at the Louisville Slugger Invitational. The Huskies opened the tournament with a pair of dominant showings as they picked up a 9-0 (5 inn.) win over the Hornets before posting a 12-0 (5 inn.) no-hitter against the Blue Hens. The winner of the contest will take the No. 1 seed into the championship rounds of the tournament later in the afternoon.