LOGAN, Utah -
With another strong day at the plate, Utah State softball opened its conference and home portion of the season with a 10-2 five-inning win over UNLV Friday.
The Aggie offense was led by perfect performances from junior catcher Brina Buttacavoli and senior shortstop Sarina Jaramillo, who were both 3-for-3 on the day. Buttacavoli ended the game with one home run and four RBIs. Senior first baseman Paxton Provost also had a home run in the win, which plated three runs. Provost was tops defensively with seven putouts. Freshman Kellie White pitched the full game Friday, allowing four hits with the two runs and striking out one batter.
"It was a great start for conference play and to get out here at home. It's been a long five weeks, so it was good to get out here and play in front of our fans," said USU head coach Steve Johnson. "We were focused in pregame, I could sense it. We had a great practice yesterday. There's a fine line between being focused and too tight, but they were right there. They did exactly what we preach as they got the first three outs and scored first. Then we just kept scoring. That's what we try to do every game, and this was a great start."
With the win, Utah State improves to 17-5 on the year and opens Mountain West play with a win for the fourth-straight year. UNLV falls to 16-10 overall and 0-1 in league play with the loss.
The Aggies got on the board early Friday, scoring three quick runs in the bottom of the first. Junior third baseman Amee Aarhus was first on after she was hit by a pitch, but was out on a fielder's choice from senior second baseman Victoria Saucedo. Provost followed with a single, while a double from Jaramillo drove both runners home. Jaramillo then scored on a single from Buttacavoli.
UNLV picked up its first hit and run in the top of the second with a home run to left field. That was the team's sole hit of the inning, as freshman outfielder Riley Plogger made the final out.
Utah State extended its lead in the bottom of the third. Jaramillo led-off with a single up the middle, advancing to second on a sac bunt from Plogger. Buttacavoli then doubled to left field to score Jaramillo for the second time.
The Rebels picked up three hits in the top of the fourth to score its last run of the day. After one out, two runners got on with back-to-back singles, while a double to left center plated a run.
The Aggie offense came alive again in the bottom of the fourth after a UNLV pitching change. Aarhus opened the inning with a single up the middle, while Saucedo drew a walk. Provost then delivered her third home run of the season to clear the bases. Jaramillo singled to left field next, while Plogger doubled down the left field line to score her. Buttacavoli followed with her out-of-the-park hit, also scoring Plogger. Hart added a double in the inning, while Clarke later reached on a fielder's choice, but the inning ended on a groundout as USU cycled through the order.
The USU defense retired the Rebels in order for the third time of the game in the top of the fifth, ending the game.
The weekend series between Utah State and UNLV will continue at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, with the finale set for Sunday, March 19, at Noon.
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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