Ariel Hart went 3-1 in four starts against the Bengals last season
SUU Strategic Communications

SUU Meets Idaho State in Pivotal Big Sky Series

April 24, 2014
By SUU Strategic Communication

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CEDAR CITY, Utah - The top spot in the Big Sky standings will be on the line as Southern Utah (19-24, 9-2 Big Sky) gets set to visit Idaho State (28-16, 9-3 Big Sky) for a pivotal conference series this weekend. The Thunderbirds and Bengals are separated by just one loss and less than eight-hundreths of a percentage point with only two weeks left in the season. The regular season winner will also claim the right to host the Big Sky Conference Tournament scheduled for May 8-10.

SUU and ISU open with a doubleheader this Saturday at 1:00 p.m., followed by a final game set for a one o’clock start on Sunday afternoon. Coverage for this weekend’s games is available online at
Seniors Kadi Henderson and Madison Resley lead the Thunderbirds with RBI totals of 35 and 32, respectively, as well as seven home runs apiece. Sophomore Kylee Wolf is hitting .476 in Big Sky play. Senior Ariel Hart anchors the SUU pitching staff with a record of 8-7 on a 5.31 ERA and holds a 6-0 mark in conference. The T-Birds rank second only to ISU (.344) in the BSC with a team batting average of .301.

Idaho State swept Northern Colorado last week, and has won all of its Big Sky series so far, dropping one game in its meetings against Portland State, Weber State and Sacramento State. Freshman Kacie Burnett leads the Big Sky with a .468 average and 26 stolen bases. The Bengals feature the league’s top-hitting lineup with a group that bats .344 overall and has driven in 277 runs with 45 home runs. Terah Blackwell and Vicky Galasso have each hit 15 of those dingers and both hold over 50 RBI. Sophomore pitcher Jessica Tolmie has upped her game as of late, compiling a record of 5-2 in the circle on a 3.78 ERA. Head coach Julie Wright is in her fourth season at ISU and helped her team post top-10 statistical finishes nationally in batting average, slugging percentage and home runs in 2013. The Thunderbirds took two-of-three from the Bengals during the regular season last year before eliminating them from the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 5-1 win.

Southern Utah closed out its non-conference schedule earlier this week with a pair of doubleheaders against Utah and Utah Valley. The Thunderbirds split both sets of games, falling to the Utes by a score of 12-4 before bouncing back for a 14-10 win and giving up a 5-3 decision to the Wolverines before coming out on top 7-3 in the second meeting.

Southern Utah concludes the season with three games at Northern Colorado on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3. The Big Sky Conference Tournament is scheduled to begin the following weekend, and will be hosted by the regular season champion.
Southern Utah’s Meagan Neilson was named the Softball Player of the Week by the Big Sky Conference on April 7 after batting 4-8 for a .500 average during a three-game sweep of Portland State. She posted a 1.125 slugging percentage against the Vikings after hitting her third home run of the year, along with a pair of doubles for a total of 6 RBI.
Southern Utah’s Madison Resley was named the Softball Player of the Week by the Big Sky Conference on Feb. 25 after batting 8-16 for a .500 average as Southern Utah picked up a pair of wins over Nevada and Grand Canyon at the GCU Invitational.
 The Salina, Kan. native hit two home runs in Phoenix to post a .875 slugging percentage to go along with a .579 obp.

The SUU roster includes seven junior college transfers this season, four of which joined the Thunderbirds from nationally recognized softball powerhouse Salt Lake Community College. Coach Magnusson was a former coach with the Bruins, who have appeared in the NJCAA national championship game in each of the past four seasons.

Southern Utah’s first 25 games of the 2014 season were played on the road. The Thunderbirds’ schedule included stops in St. George, Utah; Fresno, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Boise, Idaho before returning to Cedar City for their home-opener against Weber State on March 21. SUU is slated to host just ten of its 51 total contests this year at Kathryn Berg Field.

SUU added another Ms. Softball from Utah as Jordan Theurer joined the Thunderbird lineup for the 2013 season. The right-handed pitcher and slugger garnered numerous accolades during her prep career at Bear River High School including being named the 2012 ESPN Gatorade Player of the Year, a 2012 Wendy’s Heisman State Finalist, as well as capturing various MVP awards and three consecutive state titles. As a senior, Theurer posted a .517 batting average to go along with a 1.83 ERA in the circle. She cemented her name in the Utah high school record books with 16 doubles, 48 RBI, 11 shutouts and three no-hitters in a single season, four perfect games and 20 career shutouts.

Southern Utah was picked third for a second consecutive season in the preseason coaches poll released by the Big Sky Conference, picking up one first-place vote. Idaho 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 nod. Portland State was selected fourth, followed by Northern Colorado in fifth with Weber State and North Dakota rounding out the bottom of the poll.