PORTLAND, Ore., Mar. 22 – Southern Utah (7-19, 1-1) opened its first season in the Big Sky by splitting a doubleheader at preseason favorite Portland State (8-21, 1-1) on Friday. The Thunderbirds dropped the first contest of the day by a score of 5-0, but bounced back in the second matchup to claim a 5-4 decision for their first victory in their new conference.
Portland State held SUU to just two hits in the day’s first contest while freshman catcher Lauran Bliss provided a pair of runs for the Vikings with a home run in the second inning and Crista Conn and Sadie Lopez teamed up to tack on three more scores over the next to frames to seal a 5-0 win for PSU. Anna Bertrand (5-12) struck out 13 batters during a complete game shutout and Danielle Axe (2-7) was charged with the loss for the T-Birds after allowing four runs in 2.1 innings.
Southern Utah then ended its scoring drought in it first turn at the plate in the rematch as senior Kelsey Bryant hit an RBI double to right field to bring in Mikkel Griffin and put SUU out in front 1-0.
The Vikings took advantage of a Thunderbird error in the third inning to collect three unearned runs and a 3-1 advantage. Brittany Hendrickson drove in the first with a base hit RBI and Bliss singled up the middle to add two more scores. Another unearned run in the fourth extended the margin to 4-1.
The T-Birds rallied after putting together a big fifth inning to retake control. Freshman Kylee Wolf started things off with a solo shot to left centerfield for her first career home run. Then, after Bryant recorded her second RBI double of the day, Kadi Henderson hit another one out of the park to put SUU up 5-4. Southern Utah then shut down PSU over the final three frames to claim the one-run victory.
Ariel Zimmerman (4-10) went the distance in the circle without allowing an earned run to pick up the win for the Thunderbirds while Karyn Wright (1-7) took the loss for the home team after giving up all five runs over 4.2 innings.
Bryant went 3-7 at the plate between the two games and drove in two runs with a pair of doubles. Henderson also recorded two RBI on her fourth home run of the season.
The two teams will wrap up their series on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (MT) Coverage of the game is available on www.suutbirds.com.