April 3, 2012
OREM, Utah - Behind a stellar pitching performance from senior pitcher Dani Chaplin and timely hitting from senior infielder Kelley Kaneshiro, the Utah State softball team rallied to defeat in-state rival Utah Valley, 3-1, in nine innings in Orem on Tuesday.
With the win, the Aggies improve to 11-22 overall, while the Wolverines fall to 20-11-1 this season. Utah State has now won two-straight games after a series-ending win against Nevada last week.USU is now 1-1 in extra-inning games this year.
Chaplin struck out a career-high 11 batters in the game. The 11 strikeouts were the most by any Utah State pitcher this season.
The Aggies threatened in the top of the first inning after sophomore outfielder Kassandra Uchida led off the inning with a single to left center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore infielder Allison Lenzora. Uchida advanced a base after junior infielder Christine Thomsen slammed a single to the right side. Utah Valley starting pitcher Tiffany Mills was able to work out of the jam and prevent the Aggies from scoring.
Utah Valley took advantage of some eary wildness from Utah State Chaplin. Jessica Uresti started the bottom of the first with a double to center. With one out in the inning, Amanda Robinson reached on one of two walks in the inning. On a fielder's choice by Jamie North, Chaplin threw high, allowing Uresti to safely reach third and load the bases. An Amanda Perez walk allowed Uresti to score, giving the Wolverine the 1-0 lead after one.
In the top of the third inning, sophomore outfielder Christina Cummings started the inning with a slap single to short right field. With one out in the inning, she moved to second on Lenzora's second sacrifice bunt of the game. UVU was able to record the final out of the inning to keep USU off the scoreboard.
Chaplin found her groove striking out five batters in the second and third innings combined, including striking out the side in the bottom of the third. Chaplin retired five-straight batters before a walk by Krystin Jachim in the bottom of the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Chaplin added three more strikeouts, working out of jam. She walked Maddy Schulz to begin the inning and hit Uresti. The senior then stuck out Kelli Fox and Robinson before walking North to load the bases. Chaplin then struck out Perez swinging to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh inning, a first-pitch blast by senior infielder Kelley Kaneshiro tied the game. The pitch was the first by relief pitcher Cassie Herrera. The long ball was her fourth of the season which ties her with Thomsen for first on the team. Freshman outfielder Hailey Froton followed with a single to left and moved to second on an error, but the Aggies were not able to capitalize.
Utah State took the lead for good in the top of the ninth inning. Thomsen started the rally with a base hit to center and moved to second when Kaneshiro followed with a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Starting pitcher Mills replaced Herrera as Froton advanced both runners a base with a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, senior designated player Lindsey Marquez, executed the perfect squeeze bunt that scored Thomsen. On the play, Kaneshiro used crafty base running and scored from the second on the play as no Wolverine picked up the ball. The Aggies were able to bunt their way to a 3-1 lead.
The two-run advantage was enough for Chaplin who closed out the complete game in the bottom of the ninth to improve to 2-3 this season. Herrera took the loss for UVU, falling to 6-3 this season.
Kaneshiro ended the game going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI, while Thomsen was also 2-for-4 with one run scored.
The Aggies remain on the road, traveling to California to take on first-place Fresno State. Utah State will begin the three-game series with the Bulldogs on Friday, April 6-7. The Western Athletic Conference rivals will play a single game on Friday, April 6 and a doubleheader on Saturday, April 7.
Fans can follow USU softball and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. Live stats will be available for the game at www.utahstateaggies.com on the home page.
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