Utah State softball (9-11, 0-0 MW) continues its 2018 season this week with four home games. USU will begin the week by hosting Weber State (11-13) on Wednesday, March 14, at 3 p.m., followed by a three-game Mountain West series against Boise State (13-8, 0-0 MW). The Aggies and Broncos will play at 3 p.m., on both Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17, with the series finale set for Sunday, March 18, at noon.
All regular-season home and Mountain West games will continue to be broadcast as a USU Athletics Production on the Mountain West Network. All video feeds will be available live and in archive form at utahstateaggies.com/watch. Live stats and play-by-play information will be available through GameTracker, while updates will also be provided through the team’s social media outlets. Links to each option will be available online prior to every game.
Utah State softball will sponsor several in-game promotions throughout the 2018 season. At the conclusion of every Friday game, kids in attendance will have the opportunity to run the bases. Saturday games will feature post-game autographs with the Aggie team. During Sunday games, the Athletics department will sponsor softball bingo.
Several themed days will be highlighted throughout the year. Throwback Thursday will be held March 29, followed by HURD Day on April 3. Bark in the Park will be held on April 11, while the team’s annual Pink Game will be on April 14. Additional giveaways will also be sponsored during the season. Full details of each promotion will be provided as games get closer, while the complete list of season promotions is available on the Utah State Athletics website.
ROOT, ROOT, ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM
Utah State has always seen success on its home field. All-time, Utah State is 25-17 in home-opening games. The Aggies are 3-1 in home-openers in Steve Johnson’s tenure, and are 8-4 in the first home series of each season since his first year in 2014. Utah State will play 16 games at LaRee & LeGrand Johnson Field this season, with four Mountain West series against Boise State, Nevada, Colorado State and San José State, along with single games against BYU, Idaho State, Weber State and Utah Valley.
THE THIRD ACT
Since joining the Big West in 1991, Utah State is 10-17 in the first conference games of the season. Now in their fifth year in the Mountain West, the Aggies are 4-0 in the conference-openers.
Utah State was picked fourth in this season’s Mountain West preseason poll. San Diego State was picked to finish first in the conference, claiming 63 points and seven of the league’s first-place votes. San José State followed, earning the two remaining first-place votes and 57 total points. Fresno State was slated third, just ahead of the Aggies with 44 points, while USU took the fourth-place spot with 43 points. Nevada follows in fifth with 37 points, with Colorado State in sixth place with 30 points. Boise State (27 points), UNLV (14 points) and New Mexico (nine points) rounded out the 2018 preseason poll.
AROUND THE BEEHIVE STATE
Wednesday’s game will be the first of five meetings against an in-state rival this season. The Aggies will also play home-and-home contests against BYU and Utah Valley. All-time, Utah State is 211-190-1 against the seven other softball programs in the state of Utah. The Aggies have winning records against four of those teams, while USU has the most meetings against Utah, with 149.
Between the Utah State and Weber State rosters, Wednesday’s game will feature 15 players from the state of Utah. The Aggies have three Beehive State natives in senior outfielder Emily Hunter (Centerville/Viewmont HS), Emery Marshall (Syracuse/Syracuse HS) and Bailee Trapp (Tremonton/Bear River HS), while the Wildcats have 12. Weber State has two former high school teammates together on its roster, but the other 13 players represent 13 different high schools and hometowns.
THE TRIPLE THREAT
With her triple at UC Davis (March 8), senior outfielder Jazmin Clarke took sole possession of the 10th-place spot on the Utah State career triples list. In the first three years of her career, Clarke hit five triples and has three so far this season.
GETTING HER CHANCE
Senior outfielder Emily Hunter made the first starts of the season in last weekend’s games at Pacific and at the UC Davis-hosted Aggie Invitational. Prior to those games, Hunter had made 41 appearances as an Aggie, primarily as a pinch runner. She recorded the first hits of her USU career, including a double. Hunter earned a career-best three hits in the loss to Valparaiso.
Utah State has played at least two games against both Boise State and Weber State for the last several years. The Aggies and Broncos have met every year since 2009, the first season of the Boise State program. The teams played together in the WAC from 2009-11, with the Aggies rejoining the Broncos in the Mountain West in 2014. Last season, USU went 2-2 against Boise State, taking a 2-1 conference series, but falling in the regional round of the National Invitational Softball Championships. Utah State and Weber State have also played every year since 2010. The teams generally play a home-and-home series, but have also played each other in neutral tournaments. In 2017, USU was 1-1 against the Wildcats, as the Aggies took a win during the regular season, but fell to Weber State in the NISC.
NO HIT WONDER
Freshman pitcher Delaney Hull recorded her first collegiate no-hitter in Utah State’s 15-0 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It was just the second no-hitter on record at Utah State, and the first since April 21, 1992, when Debbie Corbett no-hit New Mexico State. Hull’s no-hitter is the first by a Mountain West pitcher this season.
WINNING ONE HUNDRED
With Utah State’s win over Omaha, fifth-year head coach Steve Johnson recorded his 100th win at the helm of the Aggie program. Since taking over the Aggie program, Johnson has an overall record of 105-127. He is the second-winningest head coach in program history, behind Lloydene Searle. Searle was the USU head coach from 1981-97, compiling a 505-369-2 record.
FIFTH INNING STRETCH
Utah State has scored the most runs in the fifth innings of games this season. So far, the Aggies have scored 28 runs in the fifth, eight more than in any other inning.
Utah State has continued its trend of stealing bases, with a Mountain West-best 38 so far. Senior outfielder Jazmin Clarke leads the team and the conference with 14 stolen bases on 15 attempts.
HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT
Utah State has recorded double-digit hits in seven games this season, including a five-game streak from Feb. 23-25. The Aggies had a season-high 19 hits in the win against Buffalo, the most by any team in the Mountain West and the fourth-most nationally this season. The 19 hits are the most since the Aggies put up 20 hits in a win against Valparaiso on March 11, 2016.
GIVING THEM THE RUN AROUND
The Aggies have scored 15 runs in two different games this season, doing so against Buffalo and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Utah State has had 15 or more runs at least once in each of the last four seasons, but this is the first time the Aggies have done so twice in a season since 1980. That year, the Aggies put up 24 and 20 runs against the College of Eastern Utah. The 24 runs is the team record for runs in a game.
BEST OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
Senior catcher Brina Buttacavoli was named the Mountain West Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 25. She earned the award for the first time in her career and it was the first honor for a Utah State player this season. Last year, five Utah State players earned conference weekly accolades six times.
WHITE SAVES THE DAY
Sophomore pitcher Kellie White earned the third save of her career as she pitched the final two outs in the win against Omaha. She is one of nine Mountain West pitchers to record a save this season. White is now tied for fifth on the Utah State career saves record list.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Utah State posted a 2-4 record last week with a 2-0 win at Pacific and a 1-4 record at the UC Davis-hosted Aggie Invitational. USU opened the weekend in a 2-0 win against the host Aggies, but went on to fall to Valparaiso (5-4) and Northern Colorado (3-2) in a pair of eight-inning games, and then closed the tournament in losses to Northern Colorado (3-2) and UC Davis (3-1). Three pitchers saw time on the mound for the Aggies, with sophomore Kellie White and freshman Delaney Hull earning wins. Combined, the three had a 1.57 ERA, allowing 29 hits and 14 runs while tallying 31 strikeouts and walking 20 batters. Offensively, senior outfielder Emily Hunter led the Aggies as she hit .369 (7-of-19), including one double. Junior outfielder Mia Maher scored a team-high three runs, while junior first baseman Bailee Trapp tallied three RBIs. In all, the Aggies hit .177 (23-of-130) on the weekend, with five doubles, one triple and one home run. Defensively, Trapp led the team with 47 putouts, while freshman second baseman Stephanie Reed added 10 assists.
Utah State will face a full slate next week. The Aggies will play a regional doubleheader on Wednesday, March 21, taking on Idaho State at 10:30 a.m. and Utah Valley at 3:30 p.m., with both games being played at UVU. Utah State will then play its first Mountain West road series at UNLV, taking on the Rebels March 23-25.
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