Senior Catcher Katie Olinger
SUU Strategic Communications

Softball Hosts Final Home Games this Week

April 23, 2013
By SUU Strategic Communication

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CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah prepares for its final home contests of the regular season as both the University of Utah and Northern Colorado are scheduled to visit Kathryn Berg Field this week. The Utes will be in town for a Noon doubleheader on Wednesday before the Thunderbirds close out their first Big Sky season by hosting UNC in a three-game series over the weekend. SUU will face the Bears in a pair of games on Friday at 12:00 p.m. and then host a special senior game the following day in another 12 o’clock showdown.

Coverage of SUU softball and live stats for the games are available online at

Mikkel Griffin hit her sixth home run of the season at Weber State to move into a tie for the team lead with Kadi Henderson. Griffin also leads SUU with 23 runs scored and ranks second on the team with a .308 batting average. Kelsey Bryant has hit five home runs and is first in the SUU lineup with a .338 batting average, including a mark of .439 in Big Sky play, 31 RBI, and 15 doubles. Ariel Zimmerman picked up a pair of wins over the Wildcats to improve to 10-15 on the year as well as 6-3 in conference play. The junior pitcher has struck out 98 batters over 152.2 innings.

Southern Utah took a three-game series sweep at Weber State last week in the teams first meeting as Big Sky foes. The Thunderbirds put up a season-high 12 runs in the opener and held the Wildcats to just two runs in each contest. Senior Kelsey Bryant hit three doubles in the series while fresham Kylee Wolf had five RBI, scoring three of those runs on her second home run of the year. Ariel Zimmerman recorded a total of 12 K’s in two games against the Wildcats and allowed just three earned runs over 11 innings.

With just two weeks remaining on the softball schedule, it appears that there are four teams with their eye on the regular season title and the opportunity to host the Big Sky Championship. Idaho State leads the way while holding a record of 9-3 with its final two series at North Dakota and at home against Sacramento State. Portland State is just behind also with a mark of 9-3, but surrended the tie-breaker after dropping two-of-three to the Bengals last week. SUU currently sits in third at 8-4 and won its series with ISU, but fell at PSU early on in the year. The Thunderbirds also hold the edge over Sacramento State who holds the final tournament spot with a record of 5-4.

Utah took a 2-1 series win over visting Arizona State last week to improve 21-24-1 on the season. Senior Jackie Sweet leads the team with a .363 batting average while Kate Dickman has driven in 31 runs for the Utes. Naomi Amu holds a record of 7-9 with a 3.89 ERA in the circle. Amy Hogue is in her sixth season as the head coach at her alma mater where she holds a record of 154-161-1.

Northern Colorado is 3-9 in the Big Sky after being swept by Portland State and Idaho State it its last two conference outings. Senior Lindsey Smith leads the Bears with a .331 average, four home runs and 30 RBI. Megan Wilkinson is 5-14 in the circle with a 5.93 ERA. Shana Easley was named the head coach at UNC in Oct. 2012.

Southern Utah University’s Ariel Zimmerman has been named the Big Sky Conference Pitcher of the Week after picking up a pair of wins during the Thunderbirds three-game sweep of Weber State over the weekend. The Lehi, Utah native went 3-0 on the week after taking an earlier victory at Utah State before posting two wins over the Wildcats. Zimmerman turned in six strikeouts during each of her appearances in the circle at WSU along with a 1.31 ERA to improve her conference record to 6-3 on the year. She currently leads the SUU pitching staff with 10 overall wins and a total of 98 strikeouts in 152.2 innings.

Southern Utah ranked third in the preseason coaches’ poll released by the Big Sky Conference, picking up one first-place vote. Portland State earned the top spot after being voted number one by five coaches and Sacramento State came in second while also receiving a first-place nomination. Northern Colorado was selected fourth, followed by Weber State in fifth and North Dakota and Idaho State who rounded out the bottom of the poll.

       2013 Big Sky Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll
    1.   Portland State              34 (5)
    2.   Sacramento State        31 (1)
    3.   Southern Utah              23 (1)
    4.   Northern Colorado        20
    5.   Weber State                 16
    6.   North Dakota                15
    7.   Idaho State                    8

The Thunderbird middle infielders have made opponents pay for hitting ground balls this season, turning 30 double plays through their first 41 games. Southern Utah’s average of 0.73 double plays a contest ranked second in the nation coming into the week. Leading the NCAA at 0.78 double players per game is this week’s mid-week opponent, the Utah Utes.

The Southern Utah lineup has accounted for 262 total hits this season, 25 of which were home runs. That equates to one dinger for roughly every 10.5 hits. Kadi Henderson and Mikkel Griffin lead the team with six round-trippers apiece, Kelsey Bryant is second with five and Madison Resley has hit four. Of the Thunderbirds’ 138 RBI this year, 53 have come via the long ball.

SUU senior outfielder Mikkel Griffin was named an Easton NCAA Division I Second-team All-American following a strong junior season for the Thunderbirds. The honor came in addition to her Summit League Player of the Year recognition received earlier in the year. Griffin was tops for the Thunderbirds at the plate, leading the team with a .404 average, 65 hits, 12 home runs, 115 total bases, 10 stolen bases and a .714 slugging percentage. Her home run total also led the Summit League in addition to her total base and slugging percentage marks.

Southern Utah freshman Kylee Wolf joins the T-Birds after a historic career at Spanish Fork High School. The new SUU outfielder holds Utah high school records for single-game RBI with 11 and single season RBI with 63. Her .454 high school career batting average is among the top ten in Utah history and her mark of 62 hits in a season ranks second all-time to her teammate Kelli Hales who had 63 hits at SFHS. Wolf also ranks third in the record book with 151 career hits, 24 career home runs and 127 career RBI.  

The Southern Utah University softball team added another impressive recruiting class receiving commitments from local standouts Ashley Clayson from Copper Hills High School and reigning Ms. Softball for the state of Utah Jordan Theurer of Bear River. Clayson garnered honorable mention recognition on the Deseret News 5A all-state team after leading the Grizzlies to a Region III title and the school’s first appearance in the state championship game while posting a .441 batting average. Theurer will come ina as one of the most decorated athletes in SUU softball history. The Tremonton, Utah native led the Bears to two consecutive state titles and was selected as the tournament MVP following each appearance. She has also received back-to-back 3A MVP awards from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News. Last season Theurer racked up a .442 batting average with four home runs and 48 RBI to go along with a 2.09 ERA, 151 strikeouts in 157.1 innings pitched and an overall record of 22-4 in the circle. She also tossed 12 shutouts and a no-hitter during her junior campaign. Those numbers led to her being named Ms. Softball by the Deseret News and the 2012 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year by ESPN.

Kadi Henderson has collected six home runs on the year to up her career total to 19 overall. That number ties her with Madison Resley, who has hit four homers so far, for eighth place in the Southern Utah career record book. Mikkel Griffin is just behind with a total of 18 after hitting 12 last year and six more this season. As a team the Thunderbirds have combined to hit 25 home runs in 2013, a mark that  already ranks ninth all-time in a single season by an SUU team.