Thunderbirds Split On Day One of Big Sky Tournament
By SUU Strategic Communication
OGDEN, Utah - The Southern Utah softball team opened play at the Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament Thursday and were able to come away with one thrilling walk-off win and one very close loss.
Game One: SUU 7, UND 6
The Thunderbirds won the opening game of the Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament in walk-off fashion. Down 6-4 in the 7th, they beat the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on a bases loaded triple from Big Sky Co-Newcomer of the Year Sarah Murphy.
Southern Utah played most of the game from behind as the Fighting Hawks scored three runs in the opening frame to take an early 3-0 lead. The Thunderbirds took a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning on three hits and three errors by the UND infield.
North Dakota tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth on a solo home run from freshman Dani Romero. They would then add four more hits and take a two run lead in the top of the seventh inning.
Down 6-4 and down to their final three outs, the Thunderbirds loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on singles from Morgan Leonard, Samantha Guerra, and Payton Hart. After two outs, Murphy stepped to the plate and cranked the 1-1 pitch from UND's Kaylin VanDomelen all the way to the fence in center field, scoring all three baserunners and giving Southern Utah a 7-6 victory.
Murphy and Leonard both finished game one three for four, while Nicole Simonson extended her hitting streak to fifteen games. Hanna Wynn started the game in the circle for the Thunderbirds and had to settle for a no decision after working 6.1 innings and giving up just four earned runs. Cheyenne Cudahy earned the win in relief after she induced a groundball double play to get SUU out of the top of the seventh inning.
Game Two: SUU 0, WSU 1
After their win over North Dakota, the Thunderbirds moved on to face tournament host Weber State in the third game of the tournament. Kirsten Hostetler started the game in the circle for Southern Utah and was locked in a pitcher's duel with WSU's Kirtlyn Bohling for the next seven innings.
The two pitchers only allowed nine hits between the two of them and neither allowed an earned run the entire game. Hostetler worked her way out of two bases loaded jams and forced the Wildcats to strand 11 baserunners during her six innings of work.
The only run of the game came in the third inning on a two-out throwing error by shortstop Kendall Kapitzke. That was all the Wildcats would need as the Thunderbirds were held to just three hits and fell 1-0.
One of those three Thunderbird hits belonged to Nicole Simonson as she kept her hitting streak alive once again, extending it to sixteen games.
The Thunderbirds will take on Sacramento State tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in the first elimination game of the Big Sky tournament. The Hornets lost to Idaho State 10-4 in their only game of the day Thursday.
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