Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
POCATELLO, Idaho, May 10 – Southern Utah (18-33) posted back-to-back wins over Sacramento State (22-22) and Idaho State on Friday to advance to the final round of the Big Sky Championship. The Thunderbirds held on for a 5-4 victory over the Hornets before knocking off top-seeded tournament host ISU by a 5-1 margin in their second outing of the day. That win sets up a rematch between SUU and Portland State (24-29) in tomorrow’s championship round.
The Thunderbirds were able to break through with a two-out rally in the bottom of the second against the Vikings to plate a pair of runs. Meagan Neilson started things off with a base on balls and advanced to third as Ariel Morbeck laced a double into left center. Kelli Hales then drove an RBI single to left to score both runners.
Southern Utah went on to extend its lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning on another RBI base hit from Hales. Neilson then scored from third on a wild pitch to up the advantage to four.
A Sacramento State miscue allowed senior catcher Katie Olinger to add another run in the bottom of the fifth but the Hornets then capitalized on a pair of SUU errors in the next inning to rally back within one. Alexa Chattleton recorded her team’s first run before Alyssa Vanderdrink, Paige Martin and Kortney Solis each knocked in a score to make the count 5-4. The T-Birds refused to surrender the lead however as the infield completed a 4-6-3 double play to bring the inning to an end with runners on second and third. Ariel Zimmerman then tossed a perfect seventh frame to seal the victory.
Danielle Axe (4-10) threw 5.1 innings for Southern Utah, matching her career high with six strikeouts. Zimmerman was credited with her second save of the year after tossing 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. Hornet starter Caitlin Brooks (14-7) gave up four runs on four hits while striking out four batters over 3.1 innings on her way to the loss.
SUU returned to the field for a second time later on in the afternoon to face tournament host Idaho State. The Thunderbirds took a quick 1-0 lead in the game after Kylee Wolf hit a leadoff homerun to straightaway center field in the first inning. Mikkel Griffin then added another solo shot in the bottom of the third to increase the edge to 2-0.
The T-Birds picked up another score on an RBI groundout from Kelsey Bryant in the fifth inning to go up by three, but then gave the run back to the Bengals when Katelyn Marquez crossed home on an SUU fielding error.
Southern Utah answered back with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to push the margin to four. Ariel Morbeck drove in pinch runner Ashley Ostler with a ball hit to the shortstop and a throwing error on the play allowed Terysa Dyer to tally a second run. The SUU defense then finished things off in the top of the seventh to wrap up the 5-1 win.
Zimmerman (11-19) got the job done in the circle again for the T-Birds, striking out five batters and surrendering just one run on four hits to earn a complete game victory. Kelsi Ott (8-6) threw all six innings for ISU, recording nine strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on six hits.
Southern Utah will now have the chance to compete with Portland State tomorrow for a shot at the conference title. SUU and PSU will play a rematch of their opening round contest on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. If the T-Birds win that game, the two teams will meet again for the Big Sky Championship at 4:00 p.m. Live coverage of SUU softball is available on www.suutbirds.com.
Sat. Oct. 18
vs. Snow College
Sat. Oct. 11
@ Brigham Young University
Sat. Oct. 11
@ Utah Valley University
Fri. Oct. 10
vs. Salt Lake Community College
Sat. May. 17
@ Long Beach State
(L) 6 -9
Fri. May. 16
Fri. Oct. 24
@ Dixie State