Southern Utah University’s softball team hosted Portland State University for a double-header on Friday afternoon. The Thunderbirds won both games (9-7, 11-10) as the teams prepare for a third game Saturday morning.
The first game started off well for SUU, as the Vikings never got a runner past second base. The Thunderbirds went up 3-0 after Josey White hit a home run over right field that also brought in Makall Whetten and Dayna Hokanson.
Portland State answered in the top of the second, after Emily Johansen started things off by hitting a double into left field. Shea Garcia got walked, and Taylor Gunesch got hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Ashlyn Monroe then hit a single to bring Johansen home. Garcia was caught at home for the second out of the inning after Marissa Bruno hit a ground ball to shortstop. Gunesch found her way home after Maddie Thompson hit a single before Paetynn Lopez grounded out to third for the final out.
SUU went three up, three down at the bottom of the second as Skyler Ball, Whetton, and Hokanson all flied out, but they responded defensively with a strikeout and two groundouts right away.
In the bottom of the third, Kalena Shepherd hit a home run over right field that also brought in Brooke Brown who was walked earlier. Gianna Carosone followed it up with a double and Reilly Williams hit a single down the right side that brought Carosone home to make the score 6-2 for SUU.
To start the fourth inning, Bruno was able to get onto first after a well-placed bunt, but none of their three other batters were able to make it on base.
Hokanson cracked a double down the infield line for her second at-bat. White followed with a double of her own to send Hokanson to third. With Hokanson ready to come home, Brown sent a line drive right down the middle to score the run and sent White to third. Carosone then came in and sent a ball down the right side to bring White home for another run, making the score 8-2 for SUU. The Thunderbirds closed the inning with two strikeouts.
The fifth inning saw no scoring from either team, as Johansen got hit by a pitch to get on base, but the next three batters couldn’t produce. SUU went three up and three down with two strikeouts and a fly-out.
To start the sixth inning, Gunesch smacked a ball down the infield line and was able to make it on to third base. Monroe was able to get on base after she hit a groundball to shortstop, but Gunesch being on third kept the Thunderbirds from making a play. A dropped pitch by the catcher was able to bring Gunesch home and send Monroe to second. Monroe was able to make it home after Thompson hit her in.
White hit a double out to center field to start off the sixth for SUU. Reynolds pinch ran for White, and was able to come home after Brown hit a fly ball to right field to make the score 9-4. The Thunderbirds had two more fly balls to close the inning.
Johansen, Garcia, and Dean scored in the seventh inning, but ground-outs to shortstop and third base finished the first game with a final score of 9-7.
The second game was a completely different story for both teams. The Vikings jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after a strong two innings in which they were able to go through their entire lineup twice while SUU was only ever able to get two runners on base.
The Vikings added another run in the third inning after Johansen hit a single and was then brought home after a double from Rachel Menlove.
SUU was finally able to find their groove in the bottom of the third after Brown hit a grand slam to bring home White, Hokanson and Ball and make the score 8-4. Two ground-outs closed the inning for SUU, but they had found their momentum.
Portland State went three up, three down to start the fourth inning, and SUU found themselves at the plate again. Mikelle Magolago got walked to start things off for the Thunderbirds, and she wound up scoring after Hokanson sent a ball out to center field. White bunted and made it on to first, and Madison Sanders came in to run for her.
Sanders ended up scoring after the bases were loaded and Brown got walked. Shepherd then sent a line drive down the right side to bring Hokanson and Whetten home and tie the ball game 8-8. Carosone hit a fly ball to close the fourth inning.
In the fifth inning, Lopez hit a single to get on base. She made her way around and finally came home after Menlove hit a single out to second base and the Vikings went up 9-8. Garcia hit a fly ball to the in field for the third out.
SUU was able to again tie the game after Mikelle Magalogo got on base with a single to left field. A single from Williams and a wild pitch brought Magalogo to third, and she came home after a sacrifice fly from Ball. A strikeout from Whetten and a ground-out from Hokanson closed the inning.
With the game tied at 9, the Vikings opened the sixth inning with a single from Dean. Bruno followed up with a single up the middle, and Dean was able to round third and run home after SUU tried to throw Bruno out at second.
The Thunderbirds found themselves down by one, and had to keep up. Brown was able to do just that, as she hammered a home run out to left field, tying the game up at 10 and bringing much-needed energy to the home team.
Unable to hold up under the pressure, Portland State went three up, three down to begin the final inning. Tied at 10, Magalogo was walked to start the at-bat. Williams stepped up to bat and hit a double deep into right field that brought Magalogo home and won the game 11-10 for Southern Utah.
Story by: Christian Esparza
Photo courtesy of the SUU Athletic Department Strategic Communications