Utah State softball sweeps doubleheader against in-state foe Weber State Wednesday

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, April 11 2012 10:47 p.m. MDT

Utah State's softball team tied its longest winning streak of the season (3) with a sweep of in-state foe Weber State on Wednesday. USU battled hard in a close game to take the first game, rallying behind starting junior pitcher Mandy Harmon to a 7-4 victory and followed it up with a 10-3 win to improve to 14-25 on the season. The second game was called in the sixth inning due to darkness.

In the first game of the day, the Aggies fell behind, 1-0, after the top of the first inning. Utah State responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the frame when freshman outfielder Haily Froton executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score sophomore outfielder Kassandra Uchida from third.

USU built on its lead over the next two innings, scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning as Uchida once again came in to score. In the bottom of the third, sophomore catcher Samantha Miller singled and was brought around to score from first by a double by utility player Nicole Arata to give the Aggies a 3-1 advantage.

Weber State tied the game with a triple from Erika Dixon that plated two runners to knot the score at 3-3 in the top of the fourth.

Utah State broke up the tied affair as junior infielder Christine Thomsen put a ball in play to the first base side to bring Uchida in for the third time of the game and advanced sophomore infielder Allison Lenzora to third to keep the threat alive. Once again, Froton executed a perfect suicide squeeze to bring Lenzora in for USU’s fifth run of the game. Both Thomsen and Froton finished the game with two RBIs apiece, while Uchida was perfect from the plate in the game, going 4-for-4, scoring three runs and two RBIs.

The Wildcats cut the lead back down to a single run by scoring a run in the top of the fifth frame, but the Aggies responded once again by scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning to stretch their lead back to a 7-4 advantage. The runs were scored on a double by Uchida that brought runners from first and second in to score.

Harmon put together a career day against Weber State as she recorded 10 strikeouts, which is a new career high for her. She also improves to 7-13 on the season, while opposing starter Sarah Clark falls to 13-8 on the year.

In the final game of the day, Utah State broke out early offensively, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning to claim an early 2-0 lead. Lenzora started the action with a one-out triple to deep right field and was brought in to score by senior infielder Kelley Kaneshiro. With two runners in scoring position, Miller delivered a two-out single to score the other run of the inning for the home team.

USU added to its lead by scoring four more runs in the bottom of the second frame, stretching its early lead to 6-0. The Aggies took advantage of two errors by the Wildcats in the inning, scoring two runs from their miscues. Lenzora delivered the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly ball to right field to score Uchida from third. Kaneshiro scored the final run of the inning by hitting a ball to deep center field that just snuck over the fence for her team-leading sixth home run of the season.

Weber State refused to exit without a fight, however, and scored a run in the top of the fourth inning and added two more in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit in half, 6-3, heading into the bottom of the fifth. The Wildcat defense held in the bottom of the frame, denying Utah State the opportunity to add to its lead.

USU brought in junior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca in the top of the sixth inning to hold its 6-3 lead. It was the first time that Tyteca has been in the circle since March 17 as she has been battling an injury. Tyteca retired Weber State without a threat to put herself in position for her fourth save of the season.

The Aggies' offense rallied to the aid of Tyteca, adding four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, pushing their lead to a 10-3 advantage. Once again, Utah State capitalized on fielding mistakes by the Wildcats to build on its lead late in the game. Highlighting the inning was senior infielder Lindsey Marquez, who hit a pinch-hit single through the middle of the infield to score runners from second and third.

USU did not complete the bottom of the sixth inning as the game was called due to darkness and rainy conditions. Senior Dani Chaplin picked up her third win of the season, (3-4), while striking out nine batters in five innings of work. Tyteca was credited with her fourth save of the season, which not only leads her squad but is also the most saved by any pitcher in the Western Athletic Conference. Weber State starting pitcher Kelsie Vallies was given the loss, dropping her to a 1-3 record for the year.

Utah State will look to take its momentum back into Western Athletic Conference action as it prepares to take on Beehive State rival BYU in a three-game weekend series. The opening game of the series is set for Friday, April 13, with first pitch being delivered at 6 p.m. Friday’s game will be nationally televised on BYUtv.

Live stats will be available to all fans on the www.utahstateaggies.com home page, just click on the GameTracker link.

Fans can follow Utah State athletics, including softball, at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics.com, as well as on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USUAthletics.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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