POCATELLO, Idaho, May 9 – Southern Utah (16-33) opened Big Sky tournament play with an 8-0 loss to Portland State (23-29) on Wednesday afternoon. The Thunderbirds were unable to get on the scoreboard after recording just two hits on the day while the Vikings held the lead from start to finish after plating a pair of runs in the first inning, adding another in the fourth and then putting up a five-spot to clinch the win in the fifth.
Right fielder Aubrey Nitschelm turned in a solid performance for PSU, going 3-for-3 at the plate including the walk off home run that tallied three RBI. Brittany Hendrickson added another homer to drive in two more runs for the Vikings. Anna Bertrand (19-15), who was recently named the Big Sky Pitcher of the Year, worked all five innings and gave up just two hits to the Thunderbirds.
Southern Utah appeared to be poised for a rally in the top of the fourth when junior infielder Kadi Henderson drove a leadoff single back up the middle and then reached second after Madison Resley drew a walk in the next at bat to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Allaband was able to recover with a strikeout and two-straight ground balls however to get out of the inning.
Senior catcher Katie Olinger came up with the Thunderbirds only other hit in the game and Ariel Zimmerman (10-19) was charged with the loss after allowing seven runs on eight hits over four innings. The junior right-hander also struck out seven batters and walked one. She was replaced in the circle during the bottom half of the fifth by Danielle Axe who gave up one run, one hit and struck out a batter.
Southern Utah will look to stave off elimination tomorrow when it faces the loser of tonight’s contest between top-seeded Idaho State and fourth-place Sacramento State. Thursday’s matchup will be played at 1:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to another game at 4:00 p.m. Live coverage of SUU softball is available on www.suutbirds.com.