Utah State softball dropped both ends of its Friday doubleheader to in-state Western Athletic Conference foe Brigham Young. The Cougars took advantage of 12 walks issued by USU in the first game of the day to sink the Aggies, 15-6, in six innings. In the second game, the Aggies got solid pitching from junior Dani Chaplin, but BYU refused to surrender a run to the visiting team, defeating Utah State 2-0.
In the opening game of the doubleheader, the Aggies (14-27, 2-9 WAC) jumped out early against the Cougars (27-12, 6-3 WAC), scoring two runs to take an early lead. Both of the first-inning runs for Utah State came with two outs. Junior infielder Christine Thomsen started the rally with a hard-hit single to right field.
Freshman outfielder Hailey Froton forced the action with a hit to the second baseman that was mishandled to put runners on first and second for senior infielder Lindsey Marquez, who delivered with a double to deep right field, scoring both runners and giving USU its first lead of the game. BYU answered back with a run of its own in the bottom of the first to trim the lead 2-1 heading into the second frame.
The Cougars' offense found its stride in the bottom of the second, plating three runs on two hits and taking advantage of two walks issued in the inning to take a 4-2 lead into the third. The Aggies were held scoreless in the top of the third, but once again BYU's offense broke the game open, scoring four more runs in its half of the inning, taking advantage of five walks in the inning and a home run by Megan Arnold to push its lead to an 8-2 advantage.
Utah State cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth, plating two runs in the frame. Sophomore catcher Samantha Miller took advantage of a fielding error by the BYU defense and advanced to third on a double by junior pitcher Shelbi Tyteca, putting runners on second and third. Pinch runner freshman outfielder Amburlyn Orozco came in to score on a grounder by freshman utility player Jolene Koons. In a similar play, pinch runner junior utility player Katie Bowdidge came in to score on a grounder to second base by sophomore outfielder Christina Cummings to cut the lead to 8-4.
The Cougars once again responded offensively, scoring three more runs in the bottom of the fourth frame to push their lead back out to 11-4.
USU's offense responded by once again scoring two runs in the top of the fifth inning as Thomsen drove a hard-hit ball back to the first baseman for a single with one out. Froton took advantage of the base runner as she drove a laser shot over the center field fence for a two-run homer, getting the Aggies back within striking distance, 11-6. BYU plated another run in the bottom of the fifth to once again double-up the visiting team, 12-6.
BYU's defense retired the Utah State offense in the top of the sixth and used its offense to close out the game, scoring three runs for a 15-6 lead, which led to the game being called due to the run rule. Junior starting pitcher Mandy Harmon is now 7-14 on the year as she was charged with the loss, while Hannah Howell improves to 12-7 on the year. Standing out for the Aggies was Thomsen, who went 2-for-3 at the plate.
In the second game of the day, Chaplin dug in and went to work against the high-powered BYU offense. Opposing Chaplin in the circle was Tori Almond for the Cougars. Both pitchers found their rhythm early as neither team was able to score through the first two innings. BYU put together the first scoring threat in the bottom of the third inning, taking advantage of walked batters and timely hitting.
The Cougars were able to plate two runners in the frame, which would turn out to be all that was needed for the home team. Almond only surrendered four hits to the Aggies in the game, two of which were to Froton, but all four hits were singles. Utah State looked to rally in the top of the sixth frame when Thomsen made contact for a single down the right field line and was moved over to second on a Froton grounder.
Chaplin falls to 3-5 on the season, while Almond is now 9-2 on the year.
Fans can tune in to BYUtv and watch USU close out its WAC series with in-state rival BYU on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The game can be found on Comcast Ch. 21 / 647 HD; Direct TV Ch. 68 or 374; and Dish Network Ch. 9403 in Utah. Check local listings for complete details and programming changes. Live stats will also be available to fans who are unable to watch, with the link being available on the home page for www.utahstateaggies.com.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.