Playing a pair of local opponents, Utah State softball split its bill against Idaho State and Utah Valley on Wednesday. The Aggies dropped the first game of the day to the Bengals, 7-5, but closed it out with a 4-3 win over the Wolverines.
Sophomore Kellie White pitched the complete game against Idaho State, tallying four strikeouts and walking one batter. Freshman Delaney Hull threw the full seven innings against Utah Valley, striking out six batters and walking one. Offensively, Utah State had three players go 2-for-3 at the plate against the Bengals, while senior third/second baseman Amee Aarhus hit a team-best 3-of-4 against the Wolverines.
With the split, Utah State sits with a 10-15 record.
Utah State scored first and early against Idaho State, after allowing just one hit in the top half of the inning. Senior outfielder Jazmin Clarke led off with a one-pitch bunt single and stole second. She was then able to get home on a single from freshman outfielder Leah Molina. The Bengals evened the score on their next trip to the plate, as a pair of wild pitches from White advanced runners and brought one home.
Idaho State took the lead in the top of the third. The leadoff batter hit a single, then stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. A double to left field then brought her home. The Aggies were able to answer right back in the bottom of the inning. Molina was the first runner on with a bloop single to second, adding a stolen base in the next at-bat. Sophomore first baseman/outfielder Riley Plogger then hit her first triple of the season to bring Molina home, and she then came across the plate off a single from senior catcher Brina Buttacavoli to give Utah State the lead.
The lead went back to Idaho State's favor in the top of the sixth. The first two batters of the inning reached on a hit-by-pitch and a walk, while the bases were loaded on a fielder's choice after a defensive hesitation. A rundown turned into a stolen base for the Bengals, who scored on the play. After another walk, a fielder's choice and a Utah State error brought another run in. On the next at-bat, a double deep to right-center cleared the bases to give Idaho State another three runs.
The Aggies started off the bottom of the sixth as Plogger opened the inning with a single to second. Buttacavoli then found the perfect gap in right-center for a double and the RBI as Plogger ran home. Senior outfielder Emily Hunter was able to single down the left field line. She pushed Buttacvaoli to the plate but was out trying to stretch her hit into a double, ending the inning.
Down two in the final half inning, the Utah State offense was retired in order.
In the game, the Aggies out-hit Idaho State, 8-7, but had one error, while the Bengals did not have any.
Returning to the field in the afternoon, Utah Valley was first to score on the Aggies. Utah State loaded the bases in the top of the first but could not bring any runners around. In the bottom of the inning, the Wolverines led off with a walk and a stolen base. A bunt single moved the runner to third, where she was able to score on a sac fly. Another base hit brought a second runner in before a fielder's choice ended the inning.
Utah State got on the board in the top of the third. Aarhus reached first on a Utah Valley error, and she was able to advance and score as Plogger tried to turn a double into a triple. The defenses battled through the next innings until the top of the fifth when the Aggies tied the score. Aarhus opened the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on a groundout. Junior catcher Bailey Lewis then singled to left field, bringing the run in from second. Utah Valley moved back ahead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a wild pitch.
Forced into a comeback situation in the top of the seventh, the Aggies made the most of it. Aarhus led off the inning with a single, while Lewis blasted a hit up the middle. Both runners advanced an extra base on the throw, providing a prime RBI opportunity for sophomore shortstop/second baseman Devan Sperry. A single down the left field line did just that, as Aarhus and Lewis both made it home on Sperry's hit to give Utah State the lead.
Utah State tallied 11 hits in the win while committing one error. Utah Valley had five hits but four errors in the contest.
The Aggies return to Mountain West play this weekend in a three-game series at UNLV. Utah State takes on the Rebels on Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. MT; Saturday, March 24, at 5 p.m.; and Sunday, March 24, at 1 p.m.
Megan McCuistion is an Assistant Media Relations Coordinator at Utah State.