March 15, 2014
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A two-run rally in the top of the seventh helped Utah State softball conclude with two wins Saturday on the final day of the Gaucho Classic II. The Aggies defeated Monmouth, 8-2, in the first game of the day and came-from-behind to stop Dartmouth, 2-1 in the second.
After losing 10-straight games, the Aggies have rebounded to win three games in a row, improving to 8-13 on the season. Sophomore starting pitcher Noelle Johnson earned the win in both games Saturday, improving to 7-8 this season.
For the second-straight game, the Aggies scored eight runs, posting the 8-2 win over Monmouth.
Utah State scored first with a single run as the Aggies are now 6-3 when scoring first. Sophomore designated player Libby Pederson once against showed her power with her second home run in as many days, launching a home run to center. Hawks' starting pitcher Breanna Sniffen was able to get out the jam.
Monmouth scored two runs in the top of the third to take a brief 2-1 lead. Raelynn Galindo walked to open the inning, then Jill Freese homered to center to put the Hawks on top. USU was able to get out of the inning with no more runs crossing the plate.
The Aggies broke it open in the third inning with seven runs. Sophomore outfielder Sarah Chow and junior shortstop Jolene Koons opened the frame with singles. Freshman third baseman Victoria Saucedo also singled to score Chow and tie the score at 2-2. Johnson helped her own cause with a single that put the Aggies ahead, 3-2. Pederson continued the rally with a single up the middle to score two. Pederson continued her hot streak, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored in the game. Utah State ended the inning with seven runs on five hits to take the commanding, 8-2 lead.
For the second-straight game, Johnson was dealing in the circle after the offense had provided run support. For the final four innings of the game, Johnson and freshman Cheyenne Harper allowed only two hits to shut down the Hawks. Johnson ended the game with eight strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched.
In the second game, Dartmouth took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning after the game started with neither team being able to get on the board. Karen Chaw reached on a single to right center. With two outs in the inning, Chaw would eventually score an unearned run after scoring on an error.
Utah State came fighting back in its final at bat of the game, trailing 1-0 in the top of the seventh. With two outs, senior second baseman Allison Lenzora was clutch with a triple to tie the score, 1-1. The go-ahead run crossed the plate after a Dartmouth error on a Chow grounder to first that scored Lenzora with what ended up as the game-winning run, as Johnson got two flyouts, then a walk before another flyout to end the game. Johnson went the distance in the circle, spraying five hits while striking out five.
Before playing its first Mountain West game and make its 2014 season home debut on Friday, March 21 against Colorado State, the Aggies will take on in-state rival Utah Valley on Tuesday, March 18. First pitch of the doubleheader in Orem is set for 1 p.m.
The Aggies then host the Rams of CSU on Friday to open a three-game, three-day MW series at LaRee and LeGrand Johnson Field, with Friday's first pitch slated for 3 p.m. The teams return to the diamond on Saturday, March 22 at 1 p.m., before wrapping up the weekend on Sunday, March 23 at 11 a.m.
Fans can keep up with all of the Aggie softball action at www.utahstateaggies.com. Follow Utah State softball at http://twitter.com/USUSoftball, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUSoftball.
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