March 1, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Utah State softball battled hard in two close games to start the San Diego Classic on Friday. USU dropped its opening game against New Mexico, 4-2, and came up just short against co-host San Diego, 4-3. The Aggies will continue Classic action on Saturday with a pair of games.
In Friday's opening game, Utah State jumped out to an early, 2-0, advantage against New Mexico in the top of the second inning. USU was able to string hits together from junior outfielder Rachael Hunsaker and sophomore infielder Nicole Arata to put runners on base.
Senior pitcher Mandy Harmon delivered the first run of the game for the Aggies with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Hunsaker from third. Junior catcher Samantha Miller drove in the second run of the inning with a bloop shot single over the first baseman that allowed Arata to score from second.
The Lobos responded in the bottom of the third frame as they were able to score three runs to claim their first lead of the game. New Mexico added another solo run in the bottom of the sixth inning, stretching its lead to, 4-2, heading into the final frame.
Utah State could not muster a rally in the bottom of the seventh to overcome New Mexico's two-run lead. Harmon was charged with the loss and now slips to 0-11 on the season. Miller went 1-for-3 at the plate and drove in a run for USU.
In the second game of the night, the Aggies wasted no time putting a run on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Amburlyn Orozco legged out a bunt single and stole second to put herself in scoring position. After working her way to third Orozco was driven in by an RBI single down the rightfield line from Hunsaker.
Utah State added to its lead by scoring another solo run in the bottom of the third inning. USU put together three consecutive hits from freshman infielder Sarah Chow, junior infielder Kassandra Uchida and Hunsaker. Freshman pitcher Noelle Johnson forced the action with a hit back to the pitcher that was mishandled, allowing Chow to score from third to give the Aggies a 2-0 lead.
The Toreros responded in the top of the fourth frame with an overwhelming four-run inning to charge ahead of Utah State and control the game with a, 4-2, advantage heading into the final innings of the game. San Diego scored their four runs on three hits and forced two errors by the USU defense.
The Aggies fought back late, adding a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull within one. Sophomore infielder Nicole Arata worked her way around the base path to wind up on third when junior infielder Becca Walker laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Arata from third, trailing USD, 4-3, heading into the final frame.
Utah State could not pull even with the Toreros in the final inning and fall to 0-17 on the season. Johnson took the loss against San Diego, falling to 0-5.
USU will next be in action on Saturday, March 2 when it takes on a pair of future Mountain West Conference foes, San Diego State and Fresno State. The Aggies start time against the Aztecs is set for 5:30 p.m. (MT), while the match-up with the Bulldogs will begin at 8 p.m. (MT) Fans can follow Utah State softball this weekend by following the live stat links available a twww.utahstateaggies.com
Follow Utah State athletics, including softball, at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics.com, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUAthletics.
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