Stalf

Humboldt State defeated Sonoma State for the fourth time in a row in the opener (6-1), but the Seawolves hammered the Jacks in the nightcap (17-3) in California Collegiate Athletic Association softball action on Saturday.

The split keeps the Jacks (23-5 in CCAA, 36-12 overall) two games ahead of UC San Diego (21-7 CCAA, 28-16 overall) at the top of the conference standings. The Tritons, who travel to play HSU next Friday and Saturday in a four-game series, won four times this weekend against Cal State Stanislaus.

“Three out of four against Sonoma is a good series for us,” HSU head coach Frank Cheek said. “You can see from the second game what they are capable of.”

Sonoma (19-9 CCAA, 32-12 overall) showed it is capable of hitting the long ball with the best of the long ball teams in the nation, powering out four home runs (Vanessa Currie, Ali Palermo, Holli Brown, and Keisi Chinen) and pounding out 16 hits to give freshman Lizzie Perez the loss (15-5). Senior Samantha Lipperd (19-6) got the win for the Seawolves. Sonoma is now in third in the CCAA, four games of HSU and two back of UCSD.

Humboldt State did get one very big blast of its own in the game when senior Chrissy Stalf crushed the ball for a three-run homer in the third. It was the 49th of her career and 20th on the season. She is one shy of HSU's all-time career mark of 50 set by Taiisha Pleasant (1996-2000).

In the opener Humboldt jumped out early on a grand slam by freshman Julie Pena in the first inning after the bases were filled by a walk and two hit batters. Her blast bounced off the scoreboard.

“I was just concentrating on the pitch,” Pena said of her ninth homer of the season. “When I saw how far it traveled, I got excited, and it pumped the rest of the bench up. After gaining that big lead we just needed to worry about holding it, which we did.”

The Jacks got a key defensive play with two on and none out in the sixth when junior Tonya Walker made a running catch of Hayley Condon's fly ball, then threw a strike to Megan Wink at second to double off pinch runner Ally Bryant.

“The ball was carrying so I just kept going back,” Walker said. “Honestly, I didn't think I was going to get there. I ran as fast as I could, got it, saw the girl was off a little bit and got her out. Our defense is crucial. We're making plays when we need to. Getting outs.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Walker followed up her fine defensive play with a big play on offense – leading off the inning with a home run, her ninth of the season.

“I was pumped up, of course, after making that play in center,” Walker said. “And it was a much-needed hit. I was kind of pressing.”

Katie Obbema (17-3) was the winning pitcher for the Jacks. Sonoma's Amanda Llerena (13-6) was the losing pitcher.

“Sonoma has a good ball club,” Cheek said.  “They have some good hitters. These are great wins. Sonoma has proven they are a good team.”