April 28, 2012
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Utah State softball split Saturday's doubleheader action against Western Athletic Conference foe New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M. Junior starting pitcher Shelbi Tyteca propelled USU to its first win over NMSU since April 21, 2009, allowing only four hits in a 5-0 win. The New Mexico State offense was too much for the visitors to handle, falling 7-1 in the series finale on Saturday.
The northern Aggies are now 17-33 overall, 4-14 in the WAC this season, while the southern Aggies are 22-27 overall, 3-14 in league action, following this weekends match-up.
Utah State looked to get off to a quick start in the first game of Saturday's action as sophomore catcher Samantha Miller drove a ball into to shallow center field for a base hit with one out, giving the visiting team its first base runner of the game. Utah State could not convert the early base hit however, committing the next two outs to end the top of the first.
Tyteca found her rhythm early in the circle as she was able to strike out four of the first six batters she faced in two innings of work.
USU struck first in the top of the third inning as freshman utility player Jolene Koons knocked a base hit over the second baseman's head for lead-off single. Junior infielder Christine Thomsen took full advantage of having a runner on base by delivering a double to deep left-center field that brought Koons around from first to score, giving the Aggies their first lead of the game, 1-0. Utah State capitalized on fielding miscues by NMSU putting runners on first and third with two-outs as senior infielder Kelley Kaneshiro came to the plate. Kaneshiro took the second pitch that she saw and drove it hard into the wind to right field just far enough to put it over the fence for a three-run home run, pushing the navy Aggies out to a 4-0 lead.
It was Kaneshiro's seventh home run of the season and pushes her RBI total to 22 for the season, inching her closer to tying the all-time career RBI record.
New Mexico State put together its first serious threat of the day in the top of bottom of the fifth frame as it was able to put two runners on with no outs. Tyteca worked her way out of it however, getting the NMSU hitters to make the next three outs of the game to end the threat.
Freshman outfielder Hailey Froton sparked the offense in the top of the sixth as she delivered a lead-off single through the middle of the infield. Froton was moved over to scoring position by a sacrifice bunt by Kaneshiro. The freshman moved another base closer to home on a wild pitch that sailed over the catcher's head. Freshman infielder Nicole Arata brought Froton the final 60 feet with her second double of the day, doubling her doubles total of the season. USU took a 5-0 lead into the the bottom of the sixth.
Pitching and defense took over from that point on for the Aggies, as Tyteca recorded her fourth complete game of the season, allowing only four hits in the first game of the day and was her first shutout of the year. Tyteca improves 5-8 on the season, while Karysta Donisthorpe is charged with the loss and is 6-9 on the year.
In the second game of the day, New Mexico State jumped out to an early advantage as it scored four runs in the bottom of the second frame. Staci Rodriquez produced the offense for NMSU with a three-run home run in the inning.
The navy Aggies looked to rally in the top of the fifth inning as it was able to load the bases with two outs against NMSU starting pitcher Sydney Williard but could not capitalize on the opportunity as they committed the next out to end the top of the fifth inning.
Utah State created a threat once again in the top of the sixth as it was able to get two runners on and advanced to second and third with one out in the inning. Senior infielder Tatem Day put USU on the board with a fly ball to deep left field for a sacrifice that scored Thomsen from third, putting the visitors within three-runs, 4-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
NMSU added another run in the bottom of the fifth, pushing its lead out to a 5-1 advantage. The crimson Aggies were at it once again in the sixth inning as it added two more runs to its cause.
Senior pitcher Dani Chaplin was charged with the loss and falls to 5-8 this season, while Williard for New Mexico State picked up her first win of the season and is now 1-1 on the year.
Utah State will conclude regular season action next week as it hosts No. 14 Hawai`i in a three-game weekend series with the first game of the series being play on Saturday, May 5 with first pitch set to be delivered from the circle at 2 p.m. (MT).
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