Feb. 6, 2014
St. George, Utah - - Utah State softball used the long ball to open the 2014 season with a split on day one of the Red Desert Classic Thursday. In the first game, USU stopped Southern Utah, 8-0 in five innings. The Aggies dropped the second game to Idaho State, 10-7.
In two games, Utah State hit four home runs which is half way to their 2013 total.
Senior designated player Samantha Larsen got the Aggies' first hit of the 2014 season with a two-out single to center in the first inning. Freshman catcher Sydney Hart followed with a single down the leftfield line to move Larsen over a base. Freshman third baseman Victoria Saucedo loaded the bases with a walk. Junior shortstop Jolene Koons came up with the big hit, drilling a bases-clearing double to center to give Utah State the early 3-0 lead.
In the circle, sophomore Noelle Johnson was solid, allowing her first hit in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs and two on, Kylee Wolf singled down the left field line. Johnson halted the T-Bird rally striking out Kadi Henderson to end the inning.
In the third inning, the Aggie offense was back at it, plating five runs to give USU the 8-0 advantage. Once again, Larsen got the action going with a walk. Hart followed with a walk to put two on with no outs. After a Thunderbird pitching change, Saucedo followed suit with another walk to load the bases. Next, Koons drove in her fourth run of the game with a bases loaded walk. Freshman first baseman Paxton Provost then provided the drama with a grand slam for her first collegiate hit.
Johnson retired Southern Utah 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth for the run-rule victory to earn her first win of the season. The sophomore allowed only two hits, striking out seven in five innings.
In game two, the Aggies took on another familiar foe in border-rival Idaho State. Once again, it was Utah State that struck first with three runs in the top of the first inning. Junior outfielder Hailey Froton started the inning, reaching on an error by Bengal shortstop Hailey Breakwell. A sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Allison Lenzora moved Froton to second with one out. The Aggie freshmen power show then continued with back-to-back home runs from Hart and Saucedo to put USU on top 3-0 before ISU even came up to the plate.
Idaho State bounced back with a run in the bottom of the second. The Bengals also showed off their power as Maddy Hickman led off with a home run. ISU also added two runs in the bottom half of the third inning to tie the score at 3-3.
The Bengals took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hickman was once again in the thick of things with a two-run double to left center to put Idaho State on top 5-3.
Utah State showed a lot of fight, tying the score in the top of the sixth inning. A ground out by sophomore outfielder Sarah Chow with the bases loaded brought home Saucedo to cut the ISU lead to 5-4. Froton came up with the big two-out hit to tie the score. Her double led to Koons crossing the plate and knotting the score at 5-5.
Idaho State also used the long ball to re-take the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth as Vicky Galasso hit a grand slam, while Hickman hit her second homer of the game to give the Bengals the 10-5 lead.
USU did not go down without a fight with Provost striking again. After a Saucedo single, Provost went deep for her second long ball of the day to pull the Aggies within 10-7, but the rally fizzled to end the game.
Johnson took the decision in both games, ending the day with a 1-1 record. Freshman Abby Indreland started the game in the circle against Idaho State going 2.2 innings.
Utah State freshmen proved nine RBI on the day led by six from Provost, two from Hart and one from Saucedo.
The Aggies are back in action for day two of the Red Desert Classic on Friday, Feb. 7. Utah State has only one game Friday facing Grand Canyon at 4 p.m. USU will conclude the tournament with games on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the Aggies face both East Carolina and UT Arlington at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively, and conclude the first tournament of the season against Omaha on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Live stats will be available for all games this week by going to www.reddesertclassic.com.
Fans can keep up with all of the Aggie softball action at www.utahstateaggies.com. Follow Utah State athletics, including softball, at http://twitter.com/USUSoftball, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUSoftball.
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