CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - After a less-than-ideal travel day and some last-minute schedule changes, Utah State softball opened a weekend of play at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a pair of wins over Omaha (5-3) and Texas Southern (7-0).
Utah State recorded double-digit hits in both wins Friday, doing so for the third and fourth times this season. The Aggies also played both games without an error, the first error-free games of the year for the team.
Freshman Delaney Hull made the start in the circle against Omaha, earning her second win of the year. Sophomore Kellie White earned her first save of the season pitching two outs against the Mavericks. She then threw the complete game against Texas Southern. White matched her career-high with seven strikeouts against the Tigers, while Hull struck out four Omaha batters.
With the two wins, Utah State improves to 4-6 on the season.
The opening game against Omaha came down to a single busy inning for each team. The Mavericks were first to strike, putting up all three runs in the top of the second inning. Omaha led off with two singles and a fielder's choice, then scoring two runs on a double to right field. Just after the second out of the inning, a single to left field brought a third run across.
Throughout the next innings, Utah State put together five hits, while Omaha helped with one error. It took until the bottom of the fifth inning for the Aggies to answer the Mavericks' scoring, but they did so with fervor.
Senior outfielder Jazmin Clarke led off with a single back to the mound, advancing to second on a groundout. Sophomore outfielder Riley Plogger drew a walk, while senior catcher Brina Buttacavoli loaded the bases with a single. Senior third baseman Amee Aarhus lined into a fielder's choice, but both she and Buttacavoli were able to stay on base. A rough throw allowed all runners to advance another base, bringing Clarke and Plogger across the plate. The action continued on the next at-bat, when freshman shortstop Emery Marshall singled up the middle to bring Buttacavoli home. After the second out, junior first baseman Bailee Trapp doubled to score both Aarhus and Marshall. Omaha made a pitching change then, as the Aggies returned to the top of the order for the final out.
Both teams went down in order in the sixth inning. The Mavericks got four base runners on in the top of the sixth, none of which came on from a hit. After runners got to second and third on a wild pitch from Hull, White entered to pitch the final two outs of the game and earn the save.
In all, Utah State had 11 hits to Omaha's six, while the Mavericks had one error.
The Aggie success continued into the afternoon with a shutout against Texas Southern. Utah State's offense again got hot in certain innings, scoring four runs in the fourth and three in the sixth.
In the top of the fourth, Utah State put together three-straight singles to immediately load the bases. Buttacavoli then reached on a fielder's choice, but Plogger was out at home on the play. Sophomore catcher Allanah Alvarado then singled through right side to score freshman second baseman Stephanie Reed. Another fielder's choice led to a second out at the plate, but Trapp came through with her second double of the day to clear the bases and give the Aggies a 4-0 lead.
Runners were quickly on the corners in the top of the sixth, as Aarhus walked and Buttacavoli singled. A wild pitch combined with an error by the Texas Southern catcher brought Aarhus around, while Buttacavoli scored on a single from Alvarado. Marshall then added a single, while senior Emily Hunter made it to third on a pair of TSU errors as a pinch runner. The defensive difficulties continued for the Tigers, as Clarke reached on an error as well, bringing Hunter across the plate.
The Aggies retired the Tigers in order for the next two innings to end the game.
Overall, Utah State had 10 hits to Texas Southern's three, while the Tigers had four errors in the game.
Action from Corpus Christi will continue on Saturday, as the Aggies face a rematch with Texas Southern at 10 a.m. (MT), with a game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi immediately following. Utah State will wrap-up the weekend with a second game against the host-Islanders on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m.
Fans can follow the Aggie softball program on Twitter, @USUSoftball, on Facebook at /USUSoftball or on Instagram, @ususoftball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter, @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and on Instagram, @USUAthletics.
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