Utah State softball (27-10, 10-4 MW) continues its 2017 season this week with four games as it plays at Weber State (24-13-1, 8-3 Big Sky) on Wednesday, April 19, at 3 p.m., and then hosts New Mexico (19-18, 5-7 MW) in a three-game Mountain West series. The Aggies and Lobos will play single games on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, at 4 p.m., and on Sunday, April 23, at noon.
Wednesday’s game at Weber State will be broadcast on WatchBigSky.com. 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.tv. 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.
Friday’s game against New Mexico will be Utah State softball’s annual Pink game for cancer awareness. The Aggies will don pink jerseys for the contest, while the first 100 fans to arrive at the park will receive a pink T-shirt. Utah State is partnering with the Logan Regional Hospital Foundation for the game, and a local cancer survivor will be in attendance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
IT’S A BIRD... IT’S A PLANE
Saturday’s game against New Mexico will be Superhero Day at Chuck & Gloria Bell Field. Fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite superhero for the game. Utah State Athletics will provide free superhero capes for the first 100 fans in attendance.
Utah State softball will sponsor several in-game promotions through the 2017 season. At the conclusion of every Friday game, kids in attendance will have the opportunity to run the bases. Saturday games will feature $2 hot dogs from the concession stand, along with post-game autographs. During Sunday games, the Athletics department will sponsor softball bingo. For the team’s two weekday home games, the first 50 fans in attendance will receive a free small popcorn. Additional single-game promotions will be highlighted throughout the season. Full details will be provided as games get closer, while the complete list of season promotions is available on the Utah State Athletics website.
SCOUTING WEBER STATE
Weber State enters the week with a 24-13-1 overall record, going 8-3 in Big West play. The Wildcats are coming off a three-game sweep of Portland State (13-0, 6-1, 17-3). This will be Weber State’s first non-conference game since the conclusion of the preseason tournaments.
Weber State returns eight starters and 13 total letterwinners from last year’s team that went 37-19 on the year, winning the Big Sky title with a 15-5 conference record. Freshman outfielder Takesha Saltern leads the Weber State offense, as she is batting .457 (58-of-127) on the year. Senior first baseman Sara Hingsberer is tops defensively with 254 putouts on the year. Junior Kirtlyn Bohling leads the Wildcat pitching crew with a 13-9 record and a 2.28 ERA. As a team, Weber State is batting .325 (346-of-1065) on the year, while posting a 3.45 ERA with 299 hits and 161 runs allowed. Mary Kay Amicone is in her fourth season as the head coach at Weber State, where she has an overall record of 121-76-1.
The in-state rivalry between Utah State and Weber State dates back to 1976. The Aggies lead the all-time series, 34-16. Last season, the teams split a pair of games, as the Aggies won a 2-1 contest at the DeMarini Desert Classic, but the Wildcats took a 3-2 in Logan. The two teams were supposed to face each other earlier this season at the DeMarini Desert Classic, but the game was rained out.
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO
New Mexico makes the trip to Logan with a 19-18 overall record. The Lobos are currently seventh in the Mountain West standings with a 5-7 league record. Last weekend, New Mexico was swept by San Diego State (4-1, 10-2, 8-0) in a conference road series.
New Mexico returns 13 letterwinners and six starters from last year’s roster. A year ago, the Lobos went 23-27 overall and 8-15 in conference play, finishing seventh in the league. Senior utility player Shelbie Franc leads the team, along with the Mountain West, at the plate, batting .429 (42-of-98). Sophomore first basemen Jade Gray and Callie McGarrigle both lead the defense with 147 putouts each. Junior Krissy Fortner is the leading pitcher for the Lobos, posting a 5-2 record and a 3.44 ERA. As a team, New Mexico is batting .308 (302-of-981) on the year, while posting a 4.25 ERA with 308 hits and 181 runs allowed. Erica Beach is in her seventh season as the head coach at New Mexico, where she has an overall record of 154-192.
New Mexico leads the all-time series against the Aggies, 23-20, dating back to the 1978 season. The Lobos took the series in Albuquerque a year ago. The Aggies won the first game of the weekend, 7-4, but dropped the remaining two. Utah State has not won a series against New Mexico since joining the Mountain West.
AROUND THE BEEHIVE STATE
Wednesday’s game will be the fifth of seven meetings against an in-state rival this season. The Aggies have already played two games each against Utah Valley and Southern Utah, along with a single-game against BYU. Still ahead, Utah State will play additional games at UVU and BYU. All-time, Utah State is 207-188 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 148.
THE BIG 200
Friday’s game against New Mexico will be head coach Steve Johnson’s 200th game at the helm of the Utah State program. Johnson will be just the third coach in program history to reach the 200-game milestone, joining Lloydene Searle (876 games) and Carissa Kalaba (214 games). Johnson is the second-winningest head coach in school history, as he currently has a 90-108 record in his time with the Aggies.
Utah State has improved depth in the circle this season, with two pitchers splitting the majority of playing time. Freshman Kellie White leads the team with a 1.75 ERA and a 15-4 individual record. Senior April Brown sits with a 2.30 ERA, while going 10-3 in her game decisions. This is the first time since 1996 that Utah State has had two pitchers record double-figure wins, when Tara Thompson and Rhealee Thorn posted records of 14-9 and 16-12, respectively.
A SERIES OF FORTUNATE EVENTS
Utah State has won all five of its league series and is the only team in the conference to win every series thus far. The four series titles are the most for the Aggies since joining the Mountain West. The five series wins are the most by a Utah State team since 1995, when the Aggies won five Big West four-game series. The 1992 and 1993 squads hold the program record with six conference series wins apiece. Conference opponent details from 1976-1990 are unavailable. Additionally, the five series wins mark the best start in conference play in program history, passing the 1991 squad that won its first three Big West series. The Aggies look to continue their winning ways with three Mountain West series left on the schedule. The 1992 and 1993 Utah State teams each won a program-record six conference series.
LEAVING THEIR MARK
Several members of the Utah State team continue to climb the ranks of the record books. Senior 2B/3B Victoria Saucedo holds the all-time runs record, with 109 in her career. Additionally, Saucedo currently ranks second in home runs (31), tied for second in RBIs (112), third in total bases (312) and tied for fifth in doubles (33). She will also end her career ranked on both the batting average and slugging percentage record lists. Senior first baseman Paxton Provost also holds spots on a pair of career record lists, as she ranks fourth in RBIs (105) and fifth in home runs (20). Junior outfielder Jazmin Clarke and sophomore outfielder Mia Maher are both career leaders in stolen bases. Clarke holds the all-time record with 52, while Maher is tied for sixth with 30.
A FEW GOOD FRESHMEN
With Utah State’s 6-3 win over Nevada, freshman pitcher Kellie White became the first member of the USU pitching staff to reach double-digit wins. She is the first Utah State freshman pitcher to record 10 or more wins since 1995, when Tara Thompson went 14-14 on the season. White is currently the third-winningest freshman pitcher in program history. Mary Lou Ramm holds the freshman record with 27 wins in 1980, followed by Kristie Skoglund, who recorded 17 wins in 1984. Additionally, White is one of just seven freshman pitchers in the NCAA to have double-digit wins, while she ranks 43rd nationally in total wins. This year, White leads the Aggie pitchers with a 15-4 record and a 1.75 earned run average.
LAST TIME OUT
Utah State posted a 2-1 Mountain West road record last week as it defeated Colorado State (W 6-2, W 4-0, L 0-3). USU utilized two pitchers on the weekend. April Brown led the pair with a 1-0 record and did not allow a single run. In all, the Aggie pitchers posted a 1.40 ERA, while striking out 14 batters and walking another 14. Junior catcher Brina Buttacavoli led the team at the plate, where she hit .444 (4-of-9). Senior first baseman Paxton Provost was tops defensively, tallying 14 putouts.
Utah State faces another split week next week, as the team will play at Utah Valley on Tuesday, April 25, at 2 p.m. before hosting San Diego State for a three-game series over the weekend. The Aggies and Aztecs will battle at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, at 4 p.m., before wrapping up the series on Sunday, April 30, at Noon.
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