LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field saw its first softball action of the year Friday, as Utah State took on New Mexico State in a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader. NM State proved to be too much for USU to handle, taking the opening game 5-2 and securing the second game of the day, 17-6.
In the opening game of the day, defense and pitching took center stage as both teams struggled to find any offensive footing against the starting pitchers. In the circle for the Aggies was freshman Noelle Johnson who worked seven scoreless innings. Opposing her for the crimson Aggies was Alex Newman who also worked seven scoreless innings before heading into extras.
New Mexico State broke the scoreless tie open in the top of the eighth as Teresa Conrad delivered big for her squad with a three-run home run. NM State plated two more in the frame to extend its lead to a 5-0 advantage.
Utah State looked to respond in the bottom half of the eighth as freshman pinch hitter Sarah Chow delivered a lead-off single. Senior infielder Christine Thomsen continued to build the threat with a single to center field. Sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton brought both runners in with a ball driven hard down the right-field line but was thrown out trying to advance to third, solidifying the 5-2 final score.
Despite her efforts, Johnson was saddled with the loss, falling to 2-9 this season.
New Mexico State would not be tamed in the second game of the day, as it was able to score seven runs in the first two innings of play.
Utah State looked to respond with a big inning of its own as it was able to plate four runs in the bottom of the third to pull within three runs, 8-5, heading into the fourth. Junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker delivered a lead-off double, which was followed with a single by sophomore outfielder Jolene Koons to open the scoring threat for the home team.
Junior infielder Allison Lenzora battled at the plate and delivered an RBI single scoring Hunsaker from third. The Aggies scored their four runs on three hits and forced NMSU into committing an error that allowed two runs to score.
NM State put the game out of reach for the home team in the top of the seventh inning, piling eight runs on USU to push its lead to a 17-5 lead. USU was able to plate one more run but could not get any closer.
Senior pitcher Mandy Harmon was given the loss and is now 1-17 on the year, while her squad is now 5-27 with a 0-5 mark in the WAC.
Froton ended the day with five hits, while Thomsen added two.
Utah State will close out its three-game weekend series with a single game on Saturday, with action set to start at 1 p.m. MT. Admission into Johnson Field is free.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.
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