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Ferguson concludes career
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Sacramento State pitcher Brianne Ferguson capped off her collegiate career in impressive fashion on May 1. The 2001 Ceres High graduate picked up a win and a save to lead the Hornets to a doubleheader sweep over Loyola Marymount at Shea Stadium.

"That was an awesome way to go out," Ferguson said.

On May 12, Ferguson was named to the all-Pacific Coast Softball Conference First Team for the second-consecutive year.

"I found out last night," Ferguson said. "My mom told me."

Ferguson compiled a 16-10 record with 18 complete games, six shutouts, 153 strikeouts and a 1.19 ERA. She limited the opposition to a .203 batting average.

"It's very rewarding to get recognized," Ferguson said. "I worked really hard to get to where I am."

Ferguson had a memorable senior campaign.

She earned PCSC Pitcher of the Week honors twice.

Ferguson and four other seniors were honored for their contributions to the program prior to the start of the season-ending doubleheader. They received a standing ovation. Then proceeded to beat Loyola Marymount, the PCSC champions.

Ferguson and the Hornets won the first game by a score of 2-1. Ferguson allowed one run, scattered four hits and struck out 10 over seven innings. She struck out the side in the last inning.

Ferguson relieved Sacramento No. 2 starter Nikki Cinque in the seventh inning of the second game, which the Hornets won by a score of 5-4. She retired three Loyola Marymount batters in a row to earn her first career save.

On March 3, Ferguson tossed her first career no-hitter. She struck out three and walked two over seven innings in a 3-0 win over UC Davis. Ferguson retired the side in order in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.

On April 20, Ferguson and the Hornets upset No. 7 Stanford 3-2 in 11 innings. Ferguson was the starting pitcher. In six innings, she allowed two runs, eight hits and two walks. She had six strikeouts.

Ferguson played for Sacramento State for three years.

She ranks in the Hornet Division I career record book in every pitching category, including third in wins (44) and shutouts (19), and fourth in strikeouts (345) and complete games (56).

"I've had a great time," Ferguson said.

Ferguson had a breakout year as a junior. She compiled a 16-11 record and 1.58 ERA.

Ferguson was the Hornets' No. 2 starter as a sophomore. She posted a 12-12 record and a 2.31 ERA.

Ferguson spent her freshman year at San Jose State, where she went 9-18 with a 2.90 ERA. She was sidelined for two weeks with a fractured cheekbone, which was sustained when she was hit in the face by a line drive. When Ferguson returned, she had to wear a protective mask. She won her final three starts against Pacific, eighth-ranked Stanford and 14th-ranked Fresno State. Each of those teams advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament.

Ferguson decided to transfer to Sacramento State after being chastised by her coach in a private meeting at the end of the season.

Ferguson lost confidence and considered quitting the sport she's played since the age of eight.

Her parents, Mark and Cyndi, and sister, Elisha, provided encouragement.

"That's what motivated me to play," Ferguson said.

In December, Ferguson will graduate from Sacramento State. The liberal studies major will enroll in the teacher credential program soonafter.

"I want to be an elementary-school teacher," said Ferguson, who plans to live and work in the Sacramento area.

On May 15, Ferguson and her teammates received disappointing news. They were hoping for an at-large berth into the NCAA Division I Softball Championship. Sacramento State wasn't included in the 64-team field.

The Hornets posted a 30-23 record and finished second in the PCSC with a 12-7 mark. They won 12 of their last 18 games. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier