March 18, 2014
OREM, Utah - Behind solid pitching and timely hitting, Utah State softball swept Utah Valley on the road Tuesday, taking the first game 4-1 and coming from behind to take the second game, 8-7.
The Aggies have now won five-straight games to improve to 10-13 this season, just one win shy of matching last season's win total. Sophomore starting pitcher Noelle Johnson earned the win in both games on Tuesday, improving to 9-8 this season. She has earned the win in all five games during the winning streak.
"We are continuing the process of learning how to win," USU head coach Steve Johnson said. "The process continues. Each win on this streak has been a little different. We came from behind twice, kept answering back, and finally broke through. Having the bottom of the order go 5-for-10 with five runs scored always helps. We were not only able to come back, but were able to hold onto the lead, which is big for us."
The first game was a pitcher's duel between Johnson and UVU's Josi Summers. Neither team touched the plate for the first four innings as both pitchers showed great control.
Utah State struck first with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. Senior second baseman Allison Lenzora launched her first home run of the season to put the Aggies on top 1-0. Junior outfielder Hailey Froton followed with another home run to center, as the back-to-back shots gave Utah State the 2-0 advantage. Bailey Moore came in to relieve Summers and walked two batters. She was able to get out of the jam with the Wolverines down just 2-0.
The Aggies plated two more runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 4-0 lead. Johnson helped her cause by starting the inning reaching on an error. Junior Amburlyn Orozco came in to pinch run for Johnson and reached on a fielder's choice and a fielding error. Senior Annie Thomas who came in to pinch run for sophomore Libby Pederson. Thomas and Orozco both stole bases to put runners on second and third. Lenzora came up big again with her second and third RBI of the game when she doubled to right center to score two.
While the Wolverines were able to get one run back in the bottom of the sixth Johnson and the Aggies were able to hold onto the 4-1 win. With 11 strikeouts, Johnson had her second double-digit strikeout performance of the season.
The second game was a much more high-scoring affair that saw only one inning where at least one team didn't score a run. The Aggies got the action started in the top of the first inning. UVU starting pitcher Kailey Christensen walked the bases loaded to start the game. Freshman first baseman Paxton Provost's fielder's choice scored sophomore outfielder Sarah Chow to score the game's first run.
Utah Valley took its first lead of the day in the bottom of the second with two runs off of USU freshman starter Cheyenne Harper.
The Aggies added single runs in both the second and third innings, but the Wolverines were able to answer with single runs of their own to keep the 4-3 lead. In the fourth inning, USU once again scored a single run to tie the game at 4-4. Froton led off the inning with a single through the left side. Chow then walked to put runners on first and second. UVU was able to get the next two outs before Provost came up with a clutch two-out single.
The Wolverines didn't let the Aggies keep the lead for long scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs in the inning, Amanda Robinson delivered a two-run homer to put Utah Valley on top 6-4. Johnson came in to relieve Harper and shut the door on the Wolverine rally.
The Aggies responded nicely in the top of the fifth inning with a quartet of runs to re-take the lead, 8-6. Junior shortstop Jolene Koons starting the rally with a one-out single. Lenzora continued her hot day with a triple to score Koons. Lenzora scored on a Chow ground out to tie the score, 6-6. Utah State took the lead for good with a two-out double to left center. Lenzora ended the day going 3-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored.
While UVU was able to get one run back in the bottom of the seventh, Johnson and the Aggies were able to hold on to complete the sweep. Utah State is now 3-0 against Beehive State teams after defeating Utah on March 3.
The Aggies now prepare to host the Rams of Colorado State 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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