Feb. 11, 2012
ATHENS, GA -- - Utah State softball captured it's second win of the season against Big East opponent St. John's early Saturday morning, 8-4 at the Red & Black Showcase. USU scored five runs in the top of the seventh to secure the victory in its first game of the day. The Aggie fell to No. 14 Georgia (USA Softball/ESPN.com) in their second game, 8-0. Utah State is now 2-2 in the start of the 2012 campaign.
The five runs scored in the top of the seventh were the most runs scored in an inning in the young season, surpassing yesterday's come from behind heroics in the bottom of the seventh where the Aggies score four runs. Chaplin was credited with her first win of the season as well as her first win at Utah State, striking out six batters, while Shelbi Tyteca came in for the first save of the season. Fronton and Thomsen anchored the offensive output on Saturday morning by both knocking three hits a piece.
Utah State charged out of the dugout this morning and put early pressure on SJU in the top of the first inning. With two outs junior first baseman Christine Thomsen legged out a single to give USU its first base runner of the day. Junior pitcher Mandy Harmon would follow Thomsen with a single shot to center field that put Thomsen in scoring position. Senior second baseman Lindsey Marquez worked the count full in her first plate appearance of the day and managed to earn a walk from the Red Storm starting pitcher Francesca Carrullo to load the bases. The Aggies could not capitalize on the early threat however, when Lenzora made solid contact with a, 2-1 pitch, that was knocked down by Carrullo to make the third out that ended the innings.
St. John's turned the table on Utah State and came out in the bottom of the first and put early pressure on USU's squad. With one out, Meghan Gwynn was able to induce a walk from starting pitcher senior Dani Chaplin. The Aggies would quickly neutralize the threat by picking Gwynn off as she attempted to steal second. SJU then sent Kristi Cady to the plate who notched a single and advance to second on a throwing error. Cady advanced to third on a wild pitch. Erin Burner would force the action when she hit a ball up the middle that could not be handled by Utah State's shortstop, freshman Taylor Serda. Cady would score to give an early advantage to SJU. The Red Storm would plate another in the bottom of the first inning and load the bases before, USU's Chaplin took control by striking out Julia Sanchez on three-straight pitches to halt St. John's from inflicting any more damage.
Trailing, 2-0, heading into the top of the fourth, the Aggies looked to respond and did just that. Serda would lead off the inning with a single to left field and was moved into scoring position when sophomore outfielder Annie Thomas laid down a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore outfielder Kassy Uchida followed up Thomas with a base hit to right center that put runners on first and second for Utah State. Freshman outfielder Hailey Fronton laced a single into center to load the bases for Thomsen. The junior would put the Aggies on the board as she sent a ball to right field that would drop for another single that scored Serda. Harmon would plate the tying run, when she hit a grounder down the third base line that allowed Uchida to cover the final 60 feet to home. Utah State committed the final out to end the top of the fourth frame with the score tied, 2-2.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Serda once again start the action for USU, by smashing a double to deep center field, giving the Aggies another runner in scoring position. Serda would further increase the scoring chance by stealing third, putting the go-ahead run for Utah State only 60 feet away. Sophomore outfielder Christina Cummings pinch hit for Thomas and would deliver with a roller towards second base that mis-fielded and allowed Serda to score. Uchida would pop-out to end the inning with a runner on first.
SJU once again threatened USU in the bottom of the fifth with Cady looming on third and another runner posted at first. Looking to apply pressure, pinch runner Zeo Yeung took off for second but would be picked off by freshman utility player Jolene Koons to end the inning and stranded the runner on third to preserve the narrow lead for the Aggies, 3-2.
Utah State looked to increase the gap going into its final at-bats in the top of the seventh inning. The action started with a Marquez single to left and sophomore infielder Allison Lenzora drawing a walk to put runners on first and second. Koons laid down a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt that would advance both of the runners into scoring position. With two outs, Cummings came to the plate looking to convert the runners into runs and was able to convert with a bases clearing double that would score Marquez and Lenzora. Uchida came to the plate and singled to center and score Cummings from second. Uchida advanced to second on an error to keep a runner in scoring position for USU. The Aggies would not relent as Fronton sent another ball deep for a double and would score Uchida. Thomsen would follow suit by knocking another double that would score Fronton. Utah State scored five runs on five hits in the top of the seventh and put itself in the drivers seat heading into the final defensive frame.
The Red Storm would not go quietly as they were able to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh to try and pull back even with USU. Both of the runs were scored with two outs but the defense would hold, making the final score, 8-4.
Utah State knocked 14 hits against St. John's and scored all of its runs after the third inning.
In the second game of Saturdays action, USU faced Southeastern Conference power and host of the Red & Black Showcase, Georgia. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 14 in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll and are ranked No. 10 in the NFCA polls. It was the first game of the day for Georgia.
The Bulldogs established themselves early by scoring run in the bottom of the first inning. The Aggies fought hard to gain momentum but could not sneak a run across the plate. Georgia broke the game open in the bottom of the third when it scored six runs that innings, increasing the deficit for Utah State in the bottom of the fourth by adding another run, making it, 8-0, heading into the fifth frame.
USU looked to respond in the top of the fifth when Cummings was walked and junior Kelley Kaneshiro belted a pinch-hit single to right field on a full count to put a runner in scoring position. The Aggies could not convert the opportunity and UGA would not have to bat in the bottom of the fifth before the game was called.
USU concludes play in the Red & Black showcase on Sunday with a match-up against Big South opponent Campbell College. First pitch is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. (MT). Live stats can be found on www.utahstateaggies.com home page.
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