Strong Bats and Solid Pitching Guide USU Softball to Sweep at Red Desert Classic Saturday
Feb. 8, 2014
ST. GEORGE, Utah - Sophomore pitcher Noelle Johnson pitched nine innings and allowed only two earned runs in two games, as the Utah State softball team captured two wins on day three of the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah on Saturday.
Johnson began the day with a five-inning win against East Carolina, 12-3. She earned her second career save, throwing four innings of shutout ball, as the Aggies won the second game of the day 5-0 against UT Arlington. The Aggies earned a bit of revenge against the Mavericks as UT Arlington swept USU last season when both teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
"Today, we came out with much better focus and energy. We fought through some adversity in the first and answered right back in the bottom of the first," USU head coach Steve Johnson said. "We took advantage of what ECU gave us and came up with some key hits to come up with a lot of runs."
With the wins, Utah State improves to 3-2 this season, while UT Arlington and East Carolina fall to 2-2 and 1-2, respectively.
"Noelle (Johnson) threw great from the start, limiting the damage in the first and then took control after that," Johnson said. "Jolene (Koons) and Paxton (Provost) stayed hot with key hits to drive in runs, and the defense took care of the routine plays."
In the first game, the Pirates struck first in the top of the first inning. Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin started the inning, reaching on an error by USU shortstop junior Jolene Koons. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin scored the first run of the game after a bunt single by Kristi Oshiro. Johnson got out of the inning with three-straight strikeouts to keep the Pirates from adding to their run total.
Utah State wiped away the deficit with two in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-1 lead. Sophomore outfielder Sarah Chow reached on an ECU error to start the inning. Koons drilled the Aggies' first triple of the season to center to score Chow easily. Freshman catcher Sydney Hart brought Koons home with a single down the right field line to give USU the 2-1 lead after one inning.
The Aggies would never trail again in the game, adding three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 5-1 lead. With two outs, junior outfielder Hailey Froton started the inning with a single that snuck through the left side. Chow followed with walk to put runners on first and second for Koons who singled up the middle. Following an error by the ECU centerfielder both Froton and Chow crossed the plate.Freshman third baseman Victoria Saucedo delivered with a double to right to put USU on top 5-1. Only one of the three runs that scored that inning were earned.
USU broke it open in the bottom of the third with seven runs to take a commanding 12-1 lead. The Aggies batted around in an inning where East Carolina pitcher Caroline Umphlett struggled with wild pitches and illegal pitches. The seven-run inning was capped by a two-run double to right-center by Provost.
The Pirates got two runs back in the fifth after a two-run homer by Shelby Johnson. ECU was not able to get any closer as USU moved to 2-2 on the season with the 12-3 five-inning win.
In the second game, the Aggies and the Mavericks battled in what was a pitcher's duel between freshman Abby Indreland and UTA's Callie Collins.
"Again the team played well in all facets of the game today and this was truly a team win," Johnson said. "Abby (Indreland) did a great job hitting her spots and getting out of some jams. Noelle did a great job in relief and, once we took the lead, she shut the door."
In the top of the first inning, Chow made a diving catch to help keep the speed of the Mavericks off the bases. Koons also showed the defense of the Aggies to keep the score 0-0 after one inning.
Utah State got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Once again, Provost was in the middle of the action when she led off the inning with a single to left centerfield. Provost eventually reached third on a sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Allison Lenzora, while Froton walked to load the bases. The at bat of the game came from freshman pinch hitter Devin Montgomery, who battled for 11 pitches to draw the bases loaded walk the gave USU the early 1-0 lead against the Mavericks.
USU added another run in the top of the fifth inning when pinch runner Amburlyn Orozco scored on a single by Provost. The freshman ended the game going 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI. The Aggies stretched the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning after a home run by Froton, which was her first of the season.
In the top of the seventh inning, USU put the icing on the cake with two more runs to give the Aggies the 5-0 win. Indreland captured her first win in an Aggie uniform to improve to 1-0, combining with Johnson for USU's first shutout of the year.
The Aggies are back in action for the final day of the Red Desert Classic on Sunday, Feb. 9, taking on Omaha 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.