By Brian Cohen
The powerful gusts of wind, an abundance of on/off rain, and a whole ton of mud, was not enough to stop the Lady Lumberjacks from winning their first home series of the season.
After 19 road games and three lengthy trips, Humboldt State Lady Lumberjacks were originally scheduled to host double-headers against their rivals, Chico State Wildcats, on Friday Feb. 28 and Saturday March 1.
Due to the amount of rainfall the games moved to another location. The home field of the Lumberjacks, located right behind the Red Wood Bowl, is not known to handle water on the field well. The home series was still played but moved to McKinleyville High School. The start of the series was also pushed back a day. Games were played on Saturday and Sunday March 2.
After a (15-4) start to the season the No. 4-ranked Lumberjacks looked to sweep the (6-7) Wildcats and give their home fan base a first look at the 2014 squad.
The Lumberjacks first year head coach Shelli Sarchett expressed her enthusiasm to be home for the first time.
“We are just really excited to be home, we could really care less whom it is that we are playing,” Sarchett said. “It just happens to be better that it is against our rivals, Chico. We are looking for the four game sweep, it is something that this team if more than capable of.”
The first pitch of the series was thrown out by the HSU’s starting pitcher Katie Obbema for a strike at 11 a.m.
Game one was a close-fought pitcher’s duel. With the absence of rain and a few hours of sunshine, it allowed for a perfect day of low scoring and exciting pitching. Both teams sent their stars to the mound. The Lumberjacks started sophomore star Katie Obbema with an era of 2.42 and seven wins. The Wildcats sent senior veteran Alex Molina with an impressive era of 1.53.
Chico got on the scoreboard early in the first with a leadoff double from Sami Ridgway, eventually scoring on an RBI single from Alli Cook.
Chico’s 1-0 lead was erased in the second inning when the Lumberjacks third baseman Julie Pena walked and scored on a RBI double from shortstop Andrea Chavez.
The score would remain 1-1 for the next five innings. Both pitchers seemed to be in command of all of their pitches and the game was moving on quite rapidly with little to zero offense.
Not until the bottom of the seventh inning were the Lumberjacks able to push another run across the plate. Junior first baseman Alison McKibbon lead off the inning with a double into left center field. Sophomore Carly Perkins came into the game to pinch run for McKibbon.
With a full count senior leadoff hitter Tonya Walker hit a walk off single scoring Perkins from third, taking game one from the Wildcats with a final score of 2-1.
Game two was less of a pitcher’s duel and more of a hitting parade. The Lumberjacks wasted no time getting their offense going early, scoring in each of the first three innings. HSU took a 5-0 lead going into the fourth inning.
The Lumberjacks got an excellent start out of sophomore pitcher Liz Perez. Perez went four innings only allowing a hand full of hits. However the Wildcats were able to push four runs across the plate in the fifth inning when freshman Maddison Williams came on in relief.
Game ones winning pitcher Katie Obbema came on to close out the game in the seventh after the jacks were able to secure another run. The Lumberjacks came out victorious with a 6-4 victory in-game two, sweeping the Saturday games.
After the game junior first baseman, an undeclared major at HSU, Alison McKibbon said it was nice to finally have a home crowd even though it was not their actual home field. “It is nice to have a larger crowd cheer you on,” McKibbon said. “The more people cheering for you, gets your blood pumping that much more, and makes it fun to play.”
Also when asked how it felt to hit the first home run for the home side, she said, “That was nice, it was my fifth home run on the year, and that’s nothing new to our motto. We play by the long ball; everyone on this team is able to hit one out.” The Lumberjacks have more than 30 home runs on the season.
On Sunday the field was drenched and there was no sign of the sun breaking through the clouds. Game three was met by a strong wind current that sent chills down ones spine on impact, along with sideways rain.
The starters were the same as game one. Obbema staring for HSU and Molina for Chico. However unlike game one this game would be dominated by Molina herself getting the victory and even blasted a grand slam to put her team in the lead.
With the hardest rain of the day falling, the visiting Wildcats gained the final upper hand with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to edge out an 8-7 game three win.
With Chico trying to even the series two games apiece, game four would be an all-out offensive battle.
From the first pitch of the game to Chico leadoff hitter Sami Ridgway, one could tell how the game might turn out.
Ridgway drove the first pitch of the game over the right center field fence for a solo home run. Ridgway said she felt the only way to beat the Lumberjacks was to get to them early.
“Angel [Chico’s head coach] told us before this game  to swing at any first pitch strike,” Ridgway said. “When I got that first pitch fastball right down the middle, I was not going to miss it; it was a good feeling giving my team an early lead, not to say that was my first home run on the year.”
On the flip side the Lumberjacks would receive home runs from Tonya Walker and Dani Randall. Along with a three hit game from senior captain Sarah Fox.
The Lumberjacks offensive would remain too strong for Chico, with HSU taking an 11- 8 win in-game four.
The Lumberjacks come out of their first home series taking three out of four games from the Wildcats.
Humboldt State improved their record to a respectable 18-5, while Chico State dropped to 7-10.
Although the Lumberjacks were unable to sweep all four games, Humboldt State’s Tonya Walker and Katie Obbema received the California Collegiate Athletic Association Softball Player and Pitcher of the Week awards.
The Lumberjacks also took a hit to their No.4 rank, dropping three places moving to their new No. 7 rank in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
The Lumberjacks look to continue their winning ways this weekend against a struggling San Francisco State Gators on Friday March 7 at the Lumberjacks home field. First pitch is scheduled for noon, weather permitting.