March 21, 2014
LOGAN, Utah - Freshman first baseman Paxton Provost ended an epic pitcher's duel with a single, scoring sophomore Kirstyn Namba in the bottom of the ninth as USU softball captured the 1-0 nine-inning win over Colorado State in the Aggies' inaugural Mountain West game Friday.
USU sophomore starting pitcher Noelle Johnson had another stellar turn in the circle, striking out 14 in a complete-game shutout. This was her third double-digit strikeout game of the season and her fifth shutout. Johnson now also has 10 complete games this season, while improving to 10-8 with the win.
Utah State has now won six-straight games to improve to 11-13 overall and 1-0 in Mountain West action, while Colorado State falls to 15-6 overall and 0-1 in league action, having its five-game winning streak snapped.
Johnson fanned seven of the first nine batters that she faced. CSU starter Holly Reinke was almost as impressive, allowing only one hit in the first six innings, which came off the bat of Johnson who was looking to help her own cause.
The Rams had one of their best opportunities to score in the top of the fifth inning. Ashlie Ortega started the inning with a single to center, which was Colorado State's second hit of the game. With one out, Chelsea Biglow singled to put runners on first and second. Johnson was able to bear down and get the final two outs of the inning to thwart the threat.
Utah State tried to end the game in regulation with a threat of its own. With one out, freshman third baseman Victoria Saucedo singled to left on a 3-2 pitch. Johnson reached base again after a hit by pitch to give the Aggies runners on first and second with two outs, but Reinke was able to get the final out of the inning to send the game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, Namba had a fantastic at bat and earned a hard-fought single to right, advancing to second on an error by CSU rightfielder Shae Rodriguez. Saucedo moved Namba to third with a fly out to right. Provost worked the count full before delivering the game-winning hit to right to score Namba and spark the Aggies' celebration.
The Aggies and the Rams have two more games left in the series. The two teams meet on Saturday, March 22 at 1 p.m. and conclude the series on Sunday, March 23 at 11 a.m. Admission to all USU home softball games at Johnson Field is free.
Live stats are available for all Aggie home games on the Utah State web site www.utahstateaggies.com. Aggies fans can watch all USU home games for free through the Mountain West Network at http://www.utahstateaggies.com/videos/.
Fans can keep up with all of the Aggie softball action at www.utahstateaggies.com. Follow Utah State athletics, including softball, at http://twitter.com/USUSoftball.com, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUSoftball.
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