Weber State freshman catcher Lauren Hoe was nearly on the nose in her first at-bat Saturday night, fouling off pitches hard down the line or straight back to the screen.
Then, after three straight full-count foul-offs, there was no nearly about it.
Hoe turned on a riseball over the plate, blasting a no-doubt, three-run home run to left field, starting a second-inning rally that propelled Weber State softball to its first NCAA Tournament win in program history — a 7-3 victory over Cal State Fullerton at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles.
It was the punctuation of a nine pitch at-bat and broke Weber's eight-inning scoring drought after a 6-0 loss to UCLA on Friday. The homer came after singles from Ashlyn Visser and Faith Hoe, but it was far from the punctuation of the inning, one that proved to be historic for the Wildcats.
Courtney Pestka and Syd White each singled, chasing Fullerton starter Dani Martinez from the game. Takesha Saltern drove in Pestka with a hit, then Visser came up for the second time in the inning and drove a single up the middle to score two and put WSU up 6-0.
Senior pitcher Addie Jensen was solid again in the circle, keeping Fullerton hitters off balance with a variety of speeds and spins to induce several pop outs, foul outs and fly outs. Jensen threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs.
Visser drove in her third run of the game in the fourth, scoring Hawker on a groundout after Hawker reached on an infield single, to make it 7-0. Weber State totaled 13 hits in the game.
The Titans finally caught up to Jensen when Daisy Muñoz hit a two-run homer in the sixth, leading to a 7-3 mark after six.
Kate Donaldson threw the final 1 2/3 innings to bring it home, giving up a two-out double in the seventh before inducing a game-ending groundout.
The win is also the first for any Big Sky team in the NCAA Tournament. It eliminated Fullerton (38-18), the Big West champions, from the Los Angeles regional and moved WSU (27-20) on to a matchup with Missouri (33-23), who lost 9-1 to UCLA (48-5) earlier Saturday.
The game ended at 9:33 p.m., well past the scheduled first-pitch time of the next game against Missouri.