Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
T-BIRDS FACE AGGIES AND DUCKS IN PROVO
CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah (9-17, 2-1 Big Sky) travels north on Tuesday for a pair of mid-week contests with Utah State (13-13, 3-0 Mountain West) and No. 3 Oregon (26-3, 3-0 Pac-12) at the Gail Miller Field on the campus of BYU in Provo. The Thunderbirds take on the Aggies at noon in a rematch of their season-opener before facing the Ducks at 4:00 p.m.
Kylee Wolf hit her fourth home run on Saturday in a 10-5 win against Weber State to tie Kadi Henderson for the team lead in the category. Senior Madison Resley ranks among the Big Sky’s top hitters with a .455 average. Ariel Hart has struck out 39 batters over 48.1 innings, which is the same number as Jordan Theurer. Theurer has collected four wins in the circle for the T-Birds and leads the pitching staff with a 5.25 ERA.
Live stats and coverage for the games is available online at www.suutbirds.com.
LAST TIME OUT
Southern Utah opened conference play at home with a 2-1 series win over Weber State. The Thunderbirds came from behind to steal the opener, 8-7 in walkoff fashion, and doubled up WSU in the finale, 10-5. Jordan Theurer and Ariel Hart each collected victories in the circle for SUU. Hart struck out eight batters in 7.1 innings and posted a 1.91 ERA over the three-game set. Sophomore Kylee Wolf drove in five runs on a .583 average and junior catcher Lyndsey Healey homered for the first time as a T-Bird on her way to four RBI.
Utah State opened its inaugural season of Mountain West Conference play with a three-game sweep of Colorado State last week to extend its current winning streak to eight games and improve to 13-13 on the year. Freshman infielder Victoria Saucedo leads the Aggies with a .353 average and has homered four times while driving in 15 runs. The team is hitting .244 overall with a combined ERA of 3.57. Sophomore Noelle Johnson leads the pitching staff with a record of 12-8 along with 146 strikeouts in 123.1 innings. Head coach Steve Johnson is in his first season in Logan. The two teams met in their respective season-openers with USU claiming an 8-0 victory in five innings.
Oregon enters the week as the No. 3 team in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, trailing only top-ranked Florida and fellow Pac-12 power UCLA. The Ducks’ pitching staff ranks in the top-ten nationally with a 1.65 ERA and the team’s .342 batting average is 21st in the NCAA. Cheridan Hawkins is 15-2 in the circle with a 0.99 ERA and has struck out 171 batters in 112.2 innings. Courtney Ceo leads UO with a .489 average while Alexa Peterson has racked up 34 RBI on four home runs. Mike White is closing in on his 2ooth career coaching victory in his fifth season in Eugene. Oregon is coming off a three game series sweep of Utah in its last outing.
Southern Utah resumes Big Sky play this weekend with a trip to Sacramento State. The series will get underway with a doubleheader on Friday at 1:00 p.m. (MT), followed by a concluding game on Saturday scheduled for another one o’clock start. The Hornets opened conference play with a three-game sweep of North Dakota at home last week.
SUU SEASON OUTLOOK
The T-Birds return two all-conference performers in shortstop Kelli Hales and centerfielder Kylee Wolf, who both earned recognition as true freshmen. Wolf was one of the team’s top-hitters during the Big Sky season with a .404 batting average and Hales hit .318 while helping the infield lead the conference by turning 39 double plays. Senior pitcher Ariel Hart is also back after being named the BSC Newcomer of the Year for posting a record of 6-4 on a 4.80 ERA in conference play. Madison Resley will provide some power as she enters her senior year tied for fifth in the SUU record books with 19 career home runs, including four this past season. Southern Utah added seven new players for the 2014 campaign, including two freshmen and five junior college transfers.
“It was pretty unbelievable how Kylee was able to turn things around and hit that well during the second half of the season,” stated SUU head coach Kyle Magnusson. “Kelli is steady, you know what you are going to get everyday. She’s going to play good defense, she’s going to show up and she’s going to get her hits. Ariel throws the ball harder and has better pitches.”
HIT THE ROAD
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.
RESLEY NAMED BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Southern Utah’s Madison Resley was named the Softball Player of the Week by the Big Sky Conference 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 increase her total to three so far this year and extended her team-leading RBI count to 14 by driving in nine runs. Resley posted a .875 slugging percentage to go along with a .579 obp while starting all six games and crossed home plate three times.
Resley held a .485 batting average at the end of the week as well as a .758 slugging percentage. She was also on nine-game hitting streak and had four multiple hit games.
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.
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.
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