Utah State softball (9-37, 3-11 WAC) found its offensive groove in the final game of Friday's Western Athletic Conference doubleheader with Louisiana Tech, as it was able to record a season-best 15 hits that resulted in an 8-4 win. In the opening game of the day, LA Tech used three home runs to best the Aggies, 6-1.
Sophomore outfielder Jolene Koons had a great second game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Senior infielder Christine Thomsen was also 3-for-4 with one run scored.
In the second game of the day, Utah State wasted no time putting a run on the board as it was able to score a solo run in the bottom half of the opening frame. Sophomore outfielder Jolene Koons led off the game with a single shot to right-center field. Koons moved over to second base when Thomsen drove another ball into right-center field, putting Koons in scoring position.
Sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton forced the action with an infield grounder toward second base, allowing Koons to advance to third and break for home. No play was made on Koons, and the Aggies took an early 1-0 advantage.
Utah State was back at it again in the bottom of the second inning, adding to more runs in the frame to push the lead to a 3-0 advantage for the home team. Junior catcher Kelsie Webster battled at the plate to earn a single into left field to give USU its first base runner of the inning. Junior infielder Rachael Hunsaker put Webster in scoring position at second with a hard hit single down the left field line.
Koons delivered at the plate again for the Aggies, as the sophomore blooped an RBI-single into right field and advanced to second when Hunsaker got caught in a run-down attempting to take third. Hunsaker was called out in a wild, 9-5-1-6-1 sequence. Koons came in to score on a hard-hit single through the middle of the infield by sophomore infielder Allison Lenzora.
The Lady Techsters responded in the top of the third inning by scoring two runs of their own, trimming the home team's lead, 3-2. LA Tech struck again in the top of the fourth inning with solo-run to tie the game, 3-3, heading into the bottom of the fourth frame.
Utah State wasted no time in breaking up LT's rally attempt, as it erupted for a four-run fourth inning to once against pull ahead of the visitors. Senior starting pitcher Mandy Harmon set the tone for the inning with a lead-off single to center field. Hunsaker delivered her second hit of the game as she drove a one-out single into left field.
Koons came up with another timely hit for her squad as the sophomore connected with a pitch and drove it deep into right-center field for her first triple of the season that scored pinch runner senior Katie Bowdidge from second and Hunsaker from first. Koons came in to score the third run of the inning as LA Tech attempted to pick her off at third, but a mishandled ball from the left fielder allowed her to safely cross home plate.
USU was not finished with its offensive surge in the bottom of the fourth, however, as Lenzora drew a walk and advanced to second on a bloop single from Thomsen. Lenzora came in to score as sophomore outfielder Hailey Froton connected with another single to center field, to put the lead out of reach for the visitors, 7-3.
The Lady Techsters looked to mount a comeback in the top of the fifth as they were able to score a run and load the bases against Harmon. The senior ended the LA Tech threat by striking out Dasia Hale to end the inning and preserve a 7-4 lead heading into the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Aggies added another run in support of Harmon as Thomsen scored from second on a single from sophomore infielder Nicole Arata.
Utah State took its 8-4 lead into the final frame and denied the Lady Techsters any chance of getting back into the fray as Harmon struck out Janine Godwin to end the game. Harmon recorded her sixth complete-game of the season, as well as notched her third win of the year, posting a 3-21 overall record in the circle.
In the opening game of the day, Louisiana Tech powered its offense with three home runs. Scoring two runs in the top of the third inning and went on to add four more runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a insurmountable, 6-0, lead over the home team.
USU scored it lone run in the bottom of the fourth frame, as junior utility player Kassandra Uchida connected with a double to deep left field that scored Froton from second. Freshman starting pitcher Noelle Johnson was saddled with the loss and is now 3-13 overall this season.
The Aggies will wrap-up their three-game homestand with the Lady Techsters on Saturday, April 20. Action is set to get underway at 12 p.m., weather permitting. Saturday will also be highlighted with special events in support of the cure of breast cancer, as Utah State has partnered with Swing For Life to help raise awareness and funds in support of breast cancer research and services. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to Saturday's games.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company