PROVO, Utah -
In the final game of the 2017 regular season, Utah State softball dropped a 4-1 road decision at No. 20 BYU Tuesday.
Despite the loss, Utah State had a clean defensive slate for the fourth-straight game. Offensively, the Aggies bookended a 57.2-inning streak of BYU pitcher McKenna Bull not allowing an earned run, with her last allowed run coming off the USU bats in an April 5 game.
Senior second baseman Victoria Saucedo led the Aggie offense, as she went 2-for-3 at the plate, while hitting in the team's sole run. Senior first baseman Paxton Provost was tops defensively with six putouts. Senior April Brown made the start in the circle, but freshman Kellie White pitched four innings in relief. Together, the pair struck out three batters and walked six.
With the loss, Utah State falls to 32-16 on the season, while BYU improves to 42-10.
After the Aggies went down in order to start the game, BYU had a strong offensive start, plating two runs to take an early lead in the bottom of the first. The Cougars drew back-to-back walks to put two runners on quickly. A sac bunt then advanced both, when a hard-hit single made it past the Aggie defense and both walks were able to score. The Cougars had one more walk in the inning, but the USU defense brought it to an end catching a runner stealing and a well-played foul ball in left field.
The Aggies were able to hold BYU off through the next two innings, allowing just a pair of walks. A double play got USU out of the second inning, while White dealt two strikeouts and the defense caught another runner stealing in the third.
Utah State's first hit of the day came in the top of the fourth, as Saucedo singled to left field. That was all the Aggies could do with the inning though, while BYU extended its lead in the bottom half. With one out, the Cougars got a runner on with a triple to right field. She then scored on a wild pitch before White could escape the inning.
In the fifth, Utah State got its second base runner of the day, as senior shortstop Sarina Jaramillo drew a walk. She then had her first-career stolen base, but was left on after a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. BYU struck again in the bottom of the inning. After a lead-off single and a hit to right field, a fielder's choice plated the Cougars' fourth run of the game.
Utah State got on the board in the top of the sixth, cutting into BYU's lead. With two outs, junior outfielder Jazmin Clarke reached on a single to right field, stealing second during an eight-pitch at-bat from Saucedo. Saucedo then made contact, beating the throw from the BYU shortstop, letting Clarke score. That run was the first earned run allowed by Bull in 57.2 innings of work. The last run given up by Bull was also against the Aggies, in a game in Logan on April 5.
BYU loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth as ne player drew a walk and two others were hit by pitches. The game went to a sun delay then, as the west-facing field and setting sun turned into a dangerous combination for the pitcher and catcher. After the break, the Aggies got out of the jam, as a ball was driven back to White for the final out.
Utah State was retired in order for the fourth time of the game in the top of the seventh, giving BYU its 21st-straight win.
On the day, BYU out-hit the Aggies, 5-3. Both teams were clean defensively. This was the fourth-straight game the Aggies went without an error, extending a season-long streak.
Utah State now await the announcement of a possible postseason bid. Announcements for the NCAA Tournament and the National Invitational Softball Championship will be made on Sunday, May 14.
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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