No. 9 Dixie State softball rallied for a 10-9 victory over Colorado School of Mines in nine innings on Sunday in the 2018 Easton Classic finale at Karl Brooks Field.
The Trailblazers (8-0) found themselves in an early 2-0 hole after the Orediggers hit a two-run home run to center field. CSM added to the lead in the top of the fifth with an RBI single through the right side to build a 3-0 advantage.
Dixie State missed on opportunities to trim the deficit in the early innings, stranding runners in scoring position in the first, third and fourth frames. The Trailblazers made sure they didn’t do the same in the fifth.
Kaitlyn Delange sparked a rally in the fifth inning with a double to right-center field, marking just the second DSU hit of the game. Janessa Bassett broke the scoreless drought on the next at-bat with an RBI triple to left-center field to cut the lead to 3-1. Bassett later scored on a Riley Tyteca RBI groundout to pull to within 3-2.
Dixie State quickly retired the CSM side in the top of the sixth and went right back to work offensively. Jessica Gonzalez opened the sixth with a single through the left side and moved to second on a Brenna Hinck sacrifice bunt. Two pitches later, Kenzie Sawyer belted a two-run home run over the fence in left field to give DSU its first lead of the game at 4-3.
The Trailblazers retired two of the first three Oredigger batters in the top of the seventh, but they were unable to get the third out. And a bloop single to left field gave CSM a 5-4 lead heading to the bottom half of the frame.
Dixie State plated the run it needed in the seventh inning to keep the game alive when Gonzalez drove a sacrifice fly to score Kirsten Quigley from third and tie the game at 5-5. Bailey Gaffin drew a walk, while Kori Gahn singled to right center to set up the Gonzalez sacrifice fly. After a DSU groundout, the international tiebreaker rule of placing a runner on second at the beginning of each inning came into effect as the game went to the eighth inning.
Colorado School of Mines looked to put the game away in the eighth frame, scoring three runs on two hits and one DSU error to take an 8-5 lead. After retiring the first two Trailblazer batters in the bottom of eighth, a DSU infield pop-up seemed destined to end the game. But the ball found its way to the dirt on a CSM error, allowing Hinck to score from third, and the Trailblazers had new life trailing 8-6.
Bassett made sure Dixie State would not waste its second chance and hammered a two-run home run over the wall in center field on the ensuing at-bat. The blast tied the game at 8-8 and marked Bassett’s fifth home run of the week.
The Orediggers scored a run in the top of the ninth to retake the lead at 9-8, but they stranded a runner at second base, leaving the door open for the Trailblazers.
DSU seized the opportunity as Tyteca quickly scored from third to tie the game at 9-9 after a Quigley sacrifice bunt moved her from second. Gahn reached on a CSM error, then moved to second on a Gonzalez single to center field. Malory Eldredge entered for Kahn as a pinch-runner after the single, then moved to third on a fielder’s choice. Eldredge scored the winning run, her first career run scored, on the next play when Sawyer belted the first pitch up the middle for a walk-off single and a 10-9 DSU victory.
Bassett and Sawyer led the offensive attack for the Trailblazers and finished with two hits, one home run and three RBIs apiece. Cambrie Hazel (4-0) earned the win in the pitcher’s circle after entering the game in the ninth inning. Hazel recorded one strikeout and retired three of four batters faced. With the win, the Trailblazers matched (2009, 2017) the best start in the program’s Division II era.
Dixie State now heads to Tucson, Arizona, for the 2018 Cactus Classic. The Trailblazers will play six games in three days beginning on Thursday.
Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at [email protected].