Stan Plewe, Dixie State Athletics
Dixie State catcher Jessica Gonzalez connects for a solo home run in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Nazarene on Thursday.

The Dixie State softball team opened its 2018 season with a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Nazarene on Thursday at Karl Brooks Field, taking game one by a 13-5 count before wrapping up the day with a 7-0 victory in game two.

The Trailblazers (2-0) shined in all facets in the doubleheader sweep, combining for 20 runs on 16 hits, including three home runs, while limiting the Nighthawks to a combined five runs on seven hits.

Game one

Northwest Nazarene opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a sacrifice fly to right field to build a 1-0 lead. The Nighthawks moved runners to second and third on the scoring play and looked to add to the lead. But, DSU pitcher Alexandria Melendez struck out the next NNU batter to end the inning.

Dixie State wasted no time regaining the lead in the bottom half of the first. After Janessa Bassett and Dani Bartholf each drew a walk, Riley Tyteca blasted the payoff pitch of a seven-pitch at-bat over the center field fence for a three-run home run to give the Trailblazers a 3-1 lead.

NNU pulled a run back in the top of the second when a wild pitch and an errant throw from home plate allowed Nighthawks center fielder Lauren Bassett to score from third base to cut the lead to 3-2.

Northwest Nazarene took its second lead of the game in the third inning when an RBI single down the right field line and a sacrifice fly to left field gave the Nighthawks a 4-3 advantage.

Dixie State wrestled the lead back in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two runs on three hits to build a 5-4 lead. Jessica Gonzalez belted a leadoff solo home run to left field for the first DSU run of the inning, while Kaitlyn Delange scored Kenzie Sawyer from third with a sacrifice fly later in the frame. The Trailblazers extended the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth when Tyteca scored on a Gonzalez sacrifice fly to right field.

The Nighthawks trimmed the lead to 6-5 in the top of the sixth with a leadoff solo home run to left field. DSU pitcher Kaycie Jensen entered the game following the blast and dashed all NNU hopes of tying or taking the lead. Jensen retired the next three batters, including a four-pitch strikeout, to get out of the inning.

The Trailblazers ended the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring seven runs on one hit and one NNU error to clinch the 13-5 triumph.

Gonzalez led the way at the plate, recording two hits and a hit-by-pitch in three at-bats with a home run and three RBIs. Gaffin added two hits and two RBIs, while Tyteca racked up three RBIs with her first-inning home run. Melendez (1-0) earned the win in the pitcher’s circle, allowing four hits with three strikeouts in five innings of work. Jensen earned her first career save after retiring three batters with a strikeout in the sixth inning.

Game two

Dixie State opened the scoring in the first frame of game two when Kori Gahn doubled to right field to score Brenna Hinck from second to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. The Trailblazers added two more runs in the second inning when, after a Gonzalez leadoff single, Sawyer crushed a two-run home run to right center field to push the lead to 3-0.

DSU scored three runs on two hits and two NNU errors in the fourth inning to push the lead to 6-0 before putting the finishing touches on the scoring with a run in the bottom of the fifth to push the score to the final tally of 7-0.

Meanwhile, the Trailblazers went to work defensively as Cambrie Hazel (1-0) earned her first career win in her first collegiate start. Hazel allowed just three hits to go with three strikeouts in six innings of work. Additionally, Hazel and the DSU defense retired the NNU side in order during the third, fourth and fifth innings. Alexis Barkwell entered the game in the top of the seventh and retired the only three batters she faced to close out the win.

Gahn led the way at the plate in game two, recording three RBIs on two hits, while Sawyer added a two-run home run and drew a walk in three appearances at the plate.

Dixie State now prepares to host the 2018 Easton Classic and will play six games in four days next Thursday through Sunday.

Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at keric.seegmiller@dixie.edu.