LOGAN, Utah -
Spurred by two two-run home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Utah State softball posted a 6-2 victory over UNLV Saturday, continuing its strong conference-opening weekend.
Freshman outfielder Riley Plogger had a perfect day at the plate, where she was 2-of-2 with a walk. Senior first baseman Paxton Provost went 2-for-3 batting, while senior designated player Sydney Hart and senior shortstop Sarina Jaramillo each added home runs for the Aggies. Senior April Brown pitched the first six innings of the game, while freshman Kellie White came in to close. Brown tallied four strikeouts, while White and the Aggie defense retired the Rebels in order in her sole inning.
"You have to give UNLV and their pitcher all the credit. After yesterday's game they came out with a different attitude, and she was throwing a little bit harder today. It took us a few times to get adjusted to her, but we weathered the storm. That's where our veteran leadership and experience comes in. We believe we're going to get to them. We didn't panic or tighten up," said Utah State head coach Steve Johnson. "April threw really well, it was just a bad match-up for the kind of pitches she throws against their swings. She battled through it and got the outs, then Kellie did a good job coming in at the end. Once we took the lead, our confidence sky-rocketed and we knew we were going to win."
Utah State improves to 18-5 on the season and 2-0 in Mountain West play. UNLV falls to 16-11 overall and 0-2 in league action with the loss.
UNLV opened the game with two hits in the top of the first, but the Aggie defense kept the Rebels from scoring. Utah State went down in order in the first, while Plogger was the only player to reach base in the second, drawing a walk.
The Rebels were first to score, plating a run in the top of the third. The lead-off hitter reached first on a USU error, later scoring on a double to center field. Two solid catches in the Aggie outfield kept further runs from scoring.
The Aggies were unable to answer the Rebels until the fifth inning, but did so in a big way. Junior third baseman Amee Aarhus was first on as she singled up the middle, ending the no-hitter. Senior second baseman Victoria Saucedo followed with a double to center, putting both runners in scoring position. Provost added a double to right, which gave both Aarhus and Saucedo the opportunity to run home and give USU the lead. Jaramillo then hit her first home run of the year, adding another pair of runs to the board. Plogger gave the Aggies their fifth-straight hit with a single, while Hart added the second dinger of the inning to give USU their six-run inning.
UNLV put up a fight through the later innings of the game, but added just one more run in the top of the sixth. The Aggie offense added two more hits to the line in the bottom of the inning before retiring the side to end the game in the top of the seventh.
On the day, Utah State out-hit UNLV, 8-7, while the Aggies had one error.
The series finale between Utah State and UNLV is 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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