Softball Splits Day One of Red Desert Classic
ST GEORGE, Utah - The Southern Utah softball team hosted day one of the St. George Red Desert Classic Friday, playing games against the UNLV Rebels and the Binghamton Bearcats.
Game One: UNLV 2, SUU 1
Three weeks ago the Rebels and the Thunderbirds matched up in Las Vegas and things did not go the T-Birds’ way. The Rebels shut out the Thunderbirds 4-0, holding them to just two hits through seven innings. Even though Friday’s game ended with the same result it was a much different game for the Thunderbirds as they put together seven hits and were one call away from mounting a comeback in the seventh inning.
The Rebels picked up their runs early on an RBI groundout by Emily Vela in the second inning and a solo shot by Mara Kemmer in the third. The Thunderbirds picked up one hit in every inning besides the first and the third, but were never able to string them together until the seventh.
Down 2-0 with just three outs left, Rylie Nance got things started with a leadoff single to right center. Payton Hart followed suit with a single of her own and Sarah Murphy cut the Rebel lead to just one with a RBI single that knocked in Nance for the first Thunderbird run of the game. After Nicole Simonson bunted Hart and Murphy over to second and third, a passed ball from UNLV catcher Brooke Stover presented the T-Birds with a chance to tie things up.
Hart came down the line from third base, but was thrown out at the plate by Stover on a bang-bang play. The Thunderbird comeback was then thwarted by the Rebels when Kendall Kapitzke struck out on the next play, ending the game at a score of 2-1.
Kirsten Hostetler started the game in the circle for the Thunderbirds. She pitched all six innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out two Rebels.
Game Two: SUU 4, Binghamton 3
Two weeks ago against Utah State Kendall Kapitzke hit the first Thunderbird home run of the season over the left field fence in the first inning of that game. In an almost strange instance of deja vu, she did it again Friday night against Binghamton University. With two outs in the inning, Kapitzke hit a rocket off of the left field foul pole getting the Thunderbirds on the board in a hurry.
Leading 1-0, the Thunderbirds really broke things open in the third inning. Sarah Murphy got things started with a leadoff double, was moved to third by a Payton Hart single, and scored on a Karlee Manzione RBI groundout to second base. After Morgan Leonard reached base on a walk by Binghamton pitcher Rayn Gibson, her and Hart would come around to score on a 2-RBI double by Megan Reed. The third inning would come to a close with the Thunderbirds leading 4-0.
Hanna Wynn started the game in the circle for the Thunderbirds and was in peak form through five innings, holding the Bearcats to just one hit and striking out five. She ran into trouble in the sixth when an error, a couple of free bases, and a 2-RBI single by Crysti Eichner gave the Bearcats three runs with runners on first and second. Wynn never faltered and got the next batter to hit into a line drive double play to end the inning.
Wynn shut the Bearcats down in the seventh, earning her first win of the season and giving the Thunderbirds their second. She finished with six strikeouts in a full seven innings of work.
“I was proud of the way we played together today. We really pulled together and were one swing away from possibly going 2-0 on the day,” head coach Tom Gray said after day one. “We got two great performances in the circle from Kirsten and Hanna. When we get those types of performances you always have a chance.”
The Thunderbirds will be back in action tomorrow for day two of the Red Desert Classic. They will kick things off against Nebraska-Omaha at 11:00 a.m. and finish up with UC Santa Barbara at 4:00 p.m.
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