SAN DIEGO — Utah State's softball team (8-8, 0-0 WAC) defeated Saint Joseph’s on Sunday, 4-3, in its last game of the San Deigo Classic I.
USU used a four-run third inning to overcome an early 3-0 deficit. With the win over SJU, the Aggies are more than halfway to the total amount of wins from last season (15). Sunday’s victory over the Hawks was the second game in two days where the Aggies have been on the winning side of a one-run game as they defeated Cal Poly, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks took an early advantage after leading-off with back-to-back singles to start the game and converted the early base runners into two runs in the top of the opening frame.
Saint Joseph’s threatened again in the top of the second as Nicole Palase knocked a lead-off triple. Palase crossed home plate when Bernadette Moran delivered a ground-rule double to deep right field, putting SJU up, 3-0. Utah State would mute any further threat, however, by forcing the next two outs to end the inning.
Junior starting pitcher Mandy Harmon settled in over the next two innings and would not allow the Hawks to gain any more offensive traction. Harmon retired the side in the top of the fourth inning as she struck out the first two batters she faced, as well as inducing a ground ball to starting shortstop, freshman Jolene Koons, to end the inning.
USU’s offense rallied to the support of Harmon in the bottom of the third inning, leading off with Koons driving a single through the infield and was followed with back-to-back walks by junior infielder Christine Thomsen and senior infielder Kelley Kaneshiro to load the bases. Senior infielder Lindsey Marquez would force the action with a grounder up the middle to the second baseman that was mishandled and led to Koons scoring from third, followed closely by Thomsen from second to pull the Aggies within a run, 3-2.
Freshman outfielder Hailey Froton would continue the third-inning rally by lifting a fly ball deep to center field that allowed Kaneshiro to cover the final 60 feet from third base to home plate, scoring the third run of the inning for Utah State and tying the game at 3-3.
With a runner still in scoring position, freshman utility player Dekota Monarrez would give USU the advantage with a single to left field that advanced Marquez to third, who would race home when the throw from the outfield was mishandled.
Marquez’s final run in the third ended up being the game-winning run, as both defenses would not allow another anyone else to score. Marquez delivered six of 10 RBIs for the Aggies in the five games they played in the San Diego Classic I, including a three-run home run against Long Beach State.
Harmon was credited with her third win of the season and her second in as many days. Junior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca entered the game at the start of the fifth inning and held the Hawks scoreless over the final three frames to earn her third save of the season. With her three saves this season, Tyteca has tied DeAnna Earsley (1990-’93) and Kristie Skoglund (1984-’87) for the all-time saves record with seven saves apiece.
Utah State will next see action in the Long Beach State Invitational, which starts on Friday and concludes on Sunday, March 11. Opponents in the Long Beach State Invitational include Pittsburgh and North Carolina on Friday. Then, USU will face Big Ten foe, Michigan State, on Sunday. Concluding play on Sunday in the Long Beach State Invitational, the Aggies will face Cal State Fullerton and No. 14 UCLA.
Utah State will also play a doubleheader on Monday, March 12 against Harvard, followed with a matchup with Loyola Marymount. Monday’s games will both be played at Loyola Marymount’s field.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.