March 31, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State softball closed out its home-opening series with a win on Saturday, 4-0, over Western Athletic Conference foe Nevada. Junior starting pitcher Mandy Harmon recorded a her second complete game shutout of the season, holding Nevada to only two hits in the game and fanned five in seven innings of work.
With the win Utah State improves to 10-22, 2-4 in WAC action, while Nevada falls to 12-24, 3-3 in league games.
USU's offense came to the support of Harmon's effort in the bottom of the third inning as sophomore catcher Samantha Miller led off with a single to start the inning. Sophomore outfielder Christina Cummings executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Miller into scoring position at second base. The third-straight sophomore delivered for the Aggies, as outfielder Kassandra Uchida singled to right field, advancing Miller to third. Junior infielder Christine Thomsen came to the plate looking to convert and did not disappoint. Thomsen drove a ball between the third baseman and the shortstop, allowing Miller to safely cross home and giving Utah State its first lead of the day. It turned out to be the only run Harmon would need on the day.
USU added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth as freshmen outfielder Hailey Froton hit a lead-off single and stole second, putting herself in scoring position. Froton moved up again on a wild pitch from Nevada's starting pitcher Bailey Brewer. Harmon would help her pitching effort by flying a ball deep to left field allowing Froton to race home and increased the Aggie lead, 2-0.
The Wolf Pack looked to rally late in the game and created it best chance of the day in the top of the fifth frame as they loaded the bases with only one out. Caylin Campbell came to the plate for Nevada looking to do some damage as she connected and drove the ball hard to the third base side. Utah State senior infielder Tatem Day denied any scoring opportunities as she snared Campbell's hard hit ball and tagged out Emily Seidel before she could get back to third for an unassisted doubled play to end the inning.
The Aggies further aided Harmon's efforts by adding two more runs in the bottom-half of the fifth inning. The first run of the frame came from Uchida, who drove a ball over the right field fence for a solo home run. It was the third home run from Uchida this season. Thomsen kept the scoring going as she worked her way around the base path to end up at third when Froton came to the plate and drove a ball into right field, scoring Thomsen. Froton was 2-for-2 in the game with an RBI and a run scored.
Harmon had more than enough and shutdown Nevada in the final two innings, seizing the victory for the home team. Harmon improves to 5-11 this season as well as recording her second shutout of the season and her sixth complete game. Harmon has pitched 93.1 innings, with a 4.57 ERA this season and has carried Utah State's pitching staff in the last three weeks of action.
Utah State will savor the win but will have a short turnaround as it travels to Orem, Utah to take on in-state rival Utah Valley on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. (MT).
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