Hitting with two outs is supposed to be the most difficult hitting in baseball or softball, especially with runners on base — the pressure ramps up, the pitcher is more technical and the game can hinge in the balance.
In fact, numbers from Major League Baseball show significant batting-average drops as each out is recorded, and another drop with two outs if runners are in scoring position — fluctuating over the years from about .270 with no outs to about .240 with two outs and runners ready to score.
Weber State softball paid no mind. The Wildcats hit 9 of 16 (.563) with two outs and 8 of 16 (.500) with runners in scoring position to thump Northern Colorado 10-4 on Thursday at Shea Stadium in Sacramento, California, sending WSU to the Big Sky Tournament championship game at noon MDT Saturday.
Nine of their 10 runs were scored with two outs.
Landi Hawker led the charge by hitting 4 of 5, while Takesha Saltern and Syd White each added three hits. Chloe Camarero, Sadie Blacker and White each drove in two runs.
In the circle, Tatiana Su’esu’e picked up the win in 4 2/3 innings and Addie Jensen — Wednesday’s 10-inning winner — threw 2 1/3 innings for the save, including pitching out of a key bases-loaded jam in the fifth against her first batter.
The victory puts Weber State one win away from the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. The Wildcats, now 16-2 against Big Sky teams this season, would have to lose twice Saturday to be denied the bid.
Montana and Sacramento State start Friday’s action in the one-loss bracket, with the winner advancing to the one-loss semifinal against Northern Colorado later that day. The winner would need two wins against WSU on Saturday to claim the tournament.
Weber State struck in the first inning when Faith Hoe singled in Saltern and Blacker doubled in Hawker and Ashlyn Visser for a 3-0 lead.
White singled in both Faith and Lauren Hoe in the third to claim a 5-1 advantage.
Su’esu’e ran into trouble in the fifth by issuing two walks on either side of a Camarero error to load the bases with two outs.
Jensen took the circle and forced Maddee Blood-Smyth into a sharp grounder to third. Camarero blocked it with her body, stepped on third and the threat was neutralized.
Camarero continued her error atonement in the next half-inning by blasting a two-run homer to left-center field, making it 7-2.
Northern Colorado made it interesting in the sixth inning when consecutive singles to lead off the frame led to a Mady Young two-RBI single to make it 7-4.
Weber responded in the seventh when Blacker began another rally with a one-out single. McKell McCuiston, Saltern and Hakwer then recorded RBI singles for the final 10-4 margin, also giving the Wildcats 19 hits in the win.