Utah State softball dropped its first two games of the Hillenbrand Invitational on Friday, in Tucson, Ariz. Southern Utah bested USU for the second time this season in Friday's opening game, 6-4. Purdue claimed a 2-1 win in a pitching and defensive struggle in the second game.
In the first game of the day, Utah State once again battled tough against in-state foe Southern Utah. Mikkel Griffin opened the game with a lead-off home run for the Thunderbirds.
USU responded in the top of the fourth inning with a two-out rally. Junior infielder Becca Walker drew a walk, which was followed with an infield single by freshman infielder Sarah Chow to put runners on first and second. Junior infielder Kassandra Uchida also drew a walk to load the bases.
Sophomore utility player Jolene Koons then doubled to left field that scored two runs to put the Aggies on top for the first time in the game.
SUU responded in the bottom of the fourth frame with a five run inning to reclaim the lead.
Utah State scored another run in the top half of the sixth inning to cut into the Thunderbirds' advantage.
USU looked to rally late in the game as freshman pitcher Noelle Johnson hit the first home run of the season for her team as she drove a ball down the left field line that found its way over the fence. The Aggies committed the final outs of the ball game and Southern Utah held on to win. SUU has now won its last four meetings against Utah State.
USU starting pitcher Johnson took the loss and falls to 0-3 on the season.
In Friday's final game, USU senior pitcher Mandy Harmon struck out eight in six innings of work, as well as provided the lone run for the Aggie offense with her first-career home run. Harmon was charged with the loss, allowing seven hits and two runs and is now 0-4 on the season.
Utah State will continue Hillenbrand play with two games on Saturday. The first game is against Nebraska which is set to start at 9 a.m. (MT), and the second game of the day against Drake is set for first pitch coming at 11 a.m. (MT).
Fans can follow all of the weekend's action through GameTracker links that will be available on the USU website.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.