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Ramirez nearly perfect, Weber State softball blanks Sac State for title-game berth

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | May 12, 2022

ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics

Weber State's Mariah Ramirez winds up to pitch in a Big Sky tournament semifinal against Sacramento State on Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Ogden.

OGDEN — Lewa Day and Samantha Parish doubled and singled to lead off No. 2 Sacramento State’s Big Sky tournament semifinal game Thursday against No. 1 Weber State, and a classic one-versus-two matchup seemed to have presented itself.

Little did the Hornets know that was as good as it would get.

Instead, WSU senior pitcher Mariah Ramirez turned it into a contest that was just like the three that the two teams played in the regular season. Ramirez struck out the next three batters swinging to get out of the jam, which began a string of retiring 15 batters perfectly in order, and the Wildcats romped to a 9-0, five-inning, run-rule victory.

“I was just trying to do too much out there,” Ramirez said of the first two batters. “I realized that I just need to hit my spots … keep the ball low and not really tense up so much.”

After getting Ramirez a 2-0 lead in the second, the Wildcats opened a can in the third inning after Faith Hoe led off with a solo homer.

Chloe Camarero and Lauren Hoe each followed with RBI doubles, and Mia Rushton later doubled in a run. Faith Hoe batted again in the inning and capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to score Makayla Donahoo. That made it 9-0 and put the run rule on the table for the second time this week.

It was the third time this season that Weber State beat up Big Sky pitcher of the year Marissa Bertuccio. In 8 1/3 innings this season, WSU has totaled 26 hits and 15 earned runs against Bertuccio.

Ramirez struck out five straight from the second to the fourth innings, then whiffed Caroline Evans swinging to end the game. That gave Ramirez nine Ks for the contest. She needed only 59 pitches, 43 of which were strikes.

“Me and (Lauren Hoe) click so well together when she’s behind the dish,” Ramirez said. “The support I got from my full team, that really helped my confidence, when you go out there and it’s 9-0 … you get to go out and throw, have fun.”

Weber State (37-10) now gets Friday off and will play for the tournament championship at noon Saturday. Sac State, No. 3 Portland State, No. 4 Northern Colorado will decide who wins the one-loss bracket in games at noon and 2:30 p.m. Friday. Whoever emerges would have to beat WSU twice Saturday to claim the title.

In some circumstances, a day off Friday might be seen as a threat to Weber State’s momentum. That doesn’t seem to be a concern, though, considering the Wildcats’ direct lead-up to this tournament. WSU had its entire final regular-season series rained out and entered the tournament having a longer-than-preferred break.

That hasn’t seemed to matter. Ramirez’s two-hit shutout followed Arissa Henderson’s six-hit shutout from Wednesday and the Wildcats will arrive Saturday having played just 10 innings this week with a score tally of 19-0.

The players will enjoy a dinner together Friday, with some of their traveling families included, and focus on their same goals from when the season began: obliterate the memories of the 2021 tournament and reprise 2019 when the Wildcats won both the regular-season and tournament titles, then won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in Weber State or Big Sky history.

“The leadership of the team has really led the way with focus. We’ve made some adjustments with team stuff because the tournament last year taught us some things, and they have just bought in,” WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “They are 100% here for each other and it goes back to ‘sometimes you, sometimes me, always us.’ That’s what we believe in, that’s what we play for.

“These two games are a testament to that. They’re really dialed in to that.

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