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By winning the Mountain West regular season, Fresno State earns an automatic berth into an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2017.
STEPHEN HICKS: The US title on Senior Day, while giving the moms one sweet gift.
Hi, everyone. And welcome into "Bulldog Breakdown," Stephen Hicks alongside Bri Mellon, back in studio. And Bri, that seems fitting because the Bulldogs softball team entered the day with a chance to head back to the NCAA tournament.
BRI MELLON: The Dogs needed to sweep Boise State and get some help. They wouldn't know it until the final inning. But with Nevada sweeping UNLV, the Dogs were in position to clinch the title. Seven seniors honored before first pitch. Families able to come down and take part.
Kelcey Carrasco out with an injury. But the Tillery Western grad getting a huge ovation, especially when the crowd heard Ruby Strong. Some of the parents even taking in a pregame catch, something that was extra special for Miranda Rohleder's dad, who came in from Wichita, Kansas.
JODY ROHLEDER: It's special, you know? There ain't that many times left anymore. We were a little worried we were never going to see her finish it up. But it is a bittersweet moment.
LETICIA CUEVAS: I was really worried because as a mom, I love to be involved in everything that she does. And I felt that she might not get that chance to do that and me not get the chance to experience as a mother.
LETICIA CUEVAS: So I'm really excited. I'm glad things are changing and that we have this opportunity.
- Go, Dogs, baby!
STEPHEN HICKS: If we didn't say it before, happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. One senior was noticeably absent from that pregame celebration. Hailey Dolcini says she's coming back next season to take advantage of that extra COVID year, helped out here in the first inning by some sweet defense turning the double play, bottom of the frame, Keahilele Mattson, we've got a story on her coming up in a bit. She comes away with a stolen base here to get into scoring position.
That would prove to be critical because Vanessa Hernandez pops up here. Looks like it'll end the inning. Instead, it drops in to score the game's first run. And the Sanger native at it again, two more RBIs late in the fifth. That'll extend the Fresno State league, give them the insurance they needed.
Pick things up now in the final frame, Rohleder had a catch with their dad, makes a diving catch here up the middle. Around this time, word started to spread across the stadium that UNLV had lost. So the Dogs needing just the final out.
BRI MELLON: The stadium with the ovation right there.
STEPHEN HICKS: Look at the hands getting thrown up. To clinch the title, they need one more out. Dolcini forces the fly-out. Caitlin Jennings on the other end. And that'll spark the celebration. State winning the Mountain West regular season title, clinching an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament for the 34th time in program history, first since 2017. Here's some of the sights and sounds after that final out.
These-- COVID seniors-- and for just this group, Hailey Dolcini talked about a ring. And then we've kind of gotten knocked down and knocked down. And then senior day-- and kind of, the stars all had to alighn. Coming back from that UNLV series, if I could have scripted and said, this is how it's going to go, I would pick this exact moment. But I can't. I am just so proud of this group of women.
- How much did you think your dad was watching over you guys today?
KELCEY CARRASCO: We joke about it a lot. Whenever we lost those two games at UNLV, we were like, what the heck are you doing up there, dad, my goodness? But he has a plan for everything. And through those losses, we were able to grow some more as a team. And it just made us more hungry to come back and keep fighting. And it's not over until it's over.
We do think that he has a part in it, you know? This season is about him for me. And it helps me to know that my teammates also remember him every day they step on that field.
HAILEY DOLCINI: I mean, this is just a stepping stone in the direction we want to go in. But this means everything. Through the ups and downs of COVID, not knowing if we were having a season-- I think we're one of, what, two teams in the Mountain West that didn't get a fall? And we're still out here doing this. I think that says a lot to who we are and the work we've put in.
BRI MELLON: I saw you hug your dad there at the end. Just how special was that?
HAILEY DOLCINI: It was best feeling. He wasn't supposed to come this weekend and ended up surprising me the day before. And he's like, I'm coming to Fresno. To have him, who started this journey with me since I was eight years old, catching [INAUDIBLE] still to this day, to have him here and be able to hug him after all the work and everything we've been through, it meant the world to me.
- Dogs to postseason.
JODIE COX: They haven't let anything get in their way, don't make excuses. We've lost this. We've lost this, this, this. And there's no excuses. They had a goal. And nothing was going to stop them. And I say they, nothing was going to stop them.
STEPHEN HICKS: What a scene. Well, thanks to social media, the story continues.
BRI MELLON: These are epic.
STEPHEN HICKS: After they leave the diamond, Hailey Dolcini and Vanessa Hernandez recreating that Tom Brady social media post where they smirk at the camera after winning the Super Bowl. And Bri, this is your favorite.
BRI MELLON: Oh, yes.
STEPHEN HICKS: Vanessa recreating that iconic image of Kobe Bryant after he won his second title.