Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
SOUTHERN UTAH OPENS SEASON AT RED DESERT CLASSIC
CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah University softball opens the 2013 season by competing at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah this upcoming weekend. The Thunderbirds start things off by facing nationally ranked No. 5 Tennessee on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. (MT) Friday’s schedule will include matchups against Utah Valley at 1:30 and Arkansas at 4:00 p.m. SUU then wraps up the tournament on Saturday with games against Seattle U at 11:00 a.m. and Utah State at 1:30 p.m.
The T-Birds return the majority of last year’s letterwinners, including Easton All-American and Summit League Player of the Year, Mikkel Griffin. The senior outfielder ranked 43rd in the NCAA with a .404 batting average last season to pace a lineup that hit .303 as a group. Senior pitcher Danielle Axe returns for SUU and will be joined in the circle by Salt Lake Community College transer Ariel Zimmerman.
The Thunderbirds are also set to begin competiton in a new conference this spring as the Big Sky adds softball as an official sport. The league will consist of teams from BSC member schools Idaho State, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and Weber State.
Fans can follow games with live stats anticipated to be available online at www.suutbirds.com.
Southern Utah qualified for its second straight postseason appearance in 2012, earning the number three seed at the Summit League tournament where it was eliminated after back-to-back losses to IPFW and UMKC. SUU finished the year with its highest win total since 2007, posting an overall record of 29-25, along with a Summit League mark of 15-9. As a team, the Thunderbirds hit over .303 from the plate, to 28th in the NCAA, and hit 47 home runs, both of which rank among the top-four single-season marks in program history.
THE RED DESERT CLASSIC
The season opening tournament will be played at the The Canyons Softball Complex located at 1890 W 2000 N in St. George, Utah. The field will include 15 Division 1 teams including, Weber State, Arkansas, Loyola Marymount, Utah, Tennessee, Utah State, Nevada, Oklahoma State, South Dakota, Idaho State, BYU, Seattle, Utah Valley, Colorado State and Southern Utah. Ticketing and other further information is available at
The Volunteers are coming off an appearance in the 2012 Women’s College World Series and are rated the fifth best team in the country by the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Pre-Season Poll. UT returns the top of its rotation with 2012 All-American junior Ellen Renfroe (27-5, 1.24 ERA) and senior Ivy Renfroe (25-9, 1.80 ERA). The Vols also bring back the bats of three All-Americans including Lauren Gibson (.314, 13 HR), Raven Chavanne (.422, 32 SB) and Madison Shipman (.311, 63 RBI). The Team combined for a .299 batting average and a 1.58 ERA, a mark that ranked 11th in the nation.
The Wolverines went 33-26-1 last year with a 10-10 record in the Great West. UVU captured the tournament title in its last season as a member of the league and will begin competition in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference this spring. The team returns starting pitcher Tiffany Mills (18-17, 2.57 ERA, 162 k’s) and RBI leader Amanda Robins (.301, 40 RBI, 13 HR). As a group Utah Valley hit .265 at the plate in 2012 and totaled a 2.95 ERA. UVU defeated Southern Utah by scores of 5-2 and 11-3 in the two teams’ season-opening series played on Feb. 11 and 12 of last season.
The Razorbacks made it to the Regional Finals last spring after finishing the season with a record of 29-28. The team returns its top two pitchers in Chelsea Cohen (14-15, 3.32 ERA) and Kimmy Beasley (11-10, 3.54 ERA) as well as SEC Freshman of the Year Devon Wallace (.367, 15 HR) and all-region player Clarissa Navarro (.337, 10 HR). The Hogs combined to hit .248 as a group and recorded a team ERA of 3.60.
The Redhawks begin their first season of competition in the WAC after finishing 15-30 last year and 8-12 in the PCSC. SU junior outfielder Sarah Petosa picked up conference honors last spring after recording a .365 batting average and going 10-10 on stolen base attempts. As a team Seattle hit .251 at the plate and posted a 4.34 ERA.
The Aggies finished last season with a record of 17-36, including a 4-17 mark in WAC play. USU returns one of the best hitters in the nation in senior infielder Christin Thomsen, whose .418 batting average ranked 26th in the country in 2012. Utah State hit .250 as a team and combined for a 4.23 ERA for the season. Southern Utah took both meetings between the two schools last year, winning by scores of 9-3 and 7-2 in a pair of games played on Feb. 20 in St. George.
SUU PICKED THIRD IN FIRST BIG SKY POLL
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
MIKKEL GRIFFIN NAMED EASTON ALL-AMERICAN
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.
NEW SUU RECORDS
The Thunderbirds set several individual and team records in 2012, largely behind Mikkel Griffin who inserted her name among the leaders of six single season statistical categories. Her .404 batting average ranks third all-time at SUU and her 12 homeruns ranks fourth. Griffin also finished in the top six with 65 hits, 43 runs, 115 total bases and a .714 slugging percentage. The team’s .303 batting average was its third highest mark ever, as was its 54 RBI. It also posted top-five totals with 83 doubles, 426 hits, 47 home runs, 272 runs scored and .473 slugging percentage.
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 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.
Sun. Mar. 1
vs. Utah Valley
(L) 4 -7
Sun. Mar. 1
vs. Long Beach State
(L) 1 -3
Sat. Feb. 28
(W) 3 -0
Sat. Feb. 28
(L) 1 -9
Fri. Feb. 27
(L) 1 -9
Fri. Feb. 27
Fri. Mar. 6
Fri. Mar. 6
@ Cal Poly
Sat. Mar. 7
Sat. Mar. 7
Sun. Mar. 8
Wed. Mar. 18
vs. Utah State (DH)
Sat. Mar. 21
@ Portland State (DH)
Sun. Mar. 22
@ Portland State
Wed. Mar. 25
vs. Dixie State