OGDEN, Utah – After beating Montana to advance to the championship game Saturday morning, the Southern Utah softball team fell to the Portland State Vikings to finish the Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament as the runners-up.
Tyler Denhart, Kalena Shepherd, and Reilly Williams were all named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team following the conclusion of the tournament.
The Thunderbirds finish the 2021 season with a 20-30 overall record, the first 20-win season since 2015.
Williams went 3-for-7 on the day with a home run, two doubles, and three RBI. Denhart got the win in game one against Montana, throwing six innings and giving up just three earned runs.
The Thunderbirds opened the day with an elimination game against Montana and it was a dogfight. Southern Utah put four runs on the board over the first two innings behind a RBI single from Gianna Carosone, a two-RBI double from Williams, and a sacrifice fly from Brooke Brown.
Brown hit her 17th home run of the season in the fourth inning to make it 5-1 SUU.
Montana strung together six singles in the fifth inning to score three runs and pull within one. A solo shot from Williams in the bottom half of the inning would make it 6-4 Southern Utah.
The Grizzlies had another big inning in the sixth and were able to tie the game at 6-6, setting up the Thunderbirds for a walk-off win in the seventh.
After Josey White and Shepherd walked, Carsone moved White over to third base with a ground ball to the shortstop. Down to their final out before going to extra innings, Mikelle Magalogo hit a ground ball to Montana’s shortstop who threw it to the second baseman who dropped the ball, allowing White to score from third and the Thunderbirds to head to the championship game.
One bad inning would be the downfall of the Thunderbirds in the championship matchup. They led 1-0 after a double from Williams scored Shepherd in the second inning. However, the Vikings would score eight runs in the fourth inning and never look back. Neither team would score again as the Vikings would go on to become the first fifth seed to win the conference tournament in Big Sky history.
Shepherd will finish the season having set new single-season batting average (.433) and slugging percentage (.788) records. Brown also broke the single-season slugging percentage with a .767, but will be behind Shepherd in the record book.
Story and photo courtesy of SUU Athletics