TURLOCK -- Three strikeouts does not a slump make.
Meghan Franksen went through an awful slump as the Cal State Stanislaus softball team stumbled to a 5-13 start. The junior shortstop batted .175 in the Warriors' first 14 games, demanding production from herself instead of just being confident she would hit.
But before Franksen struck out three times in a 9-4 loss to No. 8 UC San Diego on Friday, she had two doubles in Stanislaus' 4-0 victory over the Tritons in the first game of a California Collegiate Athletic Association doubleheader.
Her disappointment had more to do with UC San Diego's comeback in the second game than any fear she might be struggling again.
"That last game was just a little funk, I hope," Franksen said. "I did a lot of hitting outside of practice. I feel more confident at the plate. I'm seeing the ball a lot better."
In a four-game sweep of host Chico State last weekend, Franksen went 10-for-15 with six RBIs. She credited batting practice with her dad, Cliff, and a brighter outlook for helping her get back in an offensive groove.
"I'd be telling myself, 'Let's hit the ball,' instead of 'I'm going to hit this ball,' " said Franksen, who entered the season with a .332 career average.
While Franksen admitted pressing a little in Friday's second game -- hence the three strikeouts -- she feels like she's back. So, too, do the Warriors after a victory and then a comeback that fell short against the Tritons.
Jessica Gaumnitz pitched a three-hit shutout in the opener and the Warriors chased San Diego starter Melissa Ward out of the game after two innings.
Ward walked four consecutive batters in the first inning. She allowed four hits, including back-to-back doubles by Franksen and Casey Stephenson to open the third inning. Stephenson then scored on an Alyssa Guzman single.
The Warriors (10-14, 7-7 CCAA) weren't able to jump on San Diego pitcher Lauren Chastain so quickly in the second game. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Stanislaus finally got to Chastain.
The Warriors rallied for three runs -- one earned -- to take a 4-2 lead. Franksen walked and reached second safely on a Stephenson fielder's choice. Guzman placed a base hit just inside the right-field line, about 10 feet behind first base, to drive in Franksen and put Stephenson at third.
Stephenson scored on a throwing error when the Tritons tried to pick off Guzman, who ended up on third. She scored on a wild pitch and things seemed to fall into place for another Stanislaus victory.
But the Tritons (20-8, 10-6) started teeing off on starting pitcher Jen Arnold in the top of the seventh. Randelle Bundy opened the seven-run inning with a double and the Warriors brought in relievers Nikki Deleon and Stacey Hains in an effort to stop San Diego.
"It stinks when we come back like that and all we need are three outs," Franksen said. "They started hitting the crap out of the ball. It stinks when we have an inning where everything goes right, and then they do."
Still, the Warriors are optimistic and are looking forward to today's doubleheader with UC San Diego at 11 a.m. Coach Jan Schefkowitz said the team seemed to shake off its early struggles when it faced powerhouse Humboldt State two weeks ago.
Even though the Warriors were swept at home, they seemed to regain more of their West Region champions mentality.
"Humboldt made us focus," Schefkowitz said. "Even though we lost, we played good games, close games. We just didn't get the hit. We started to click."
Between the rivalry games and Franksen's resurgence, Schefkowitz said she can tell the Warriors' days of "sputtering" are over.
"I think Meghan relaxes everybody," Schefkowitz said. "When she's hitting, everyone is relaxed."