Thunderbird softball finishes with two wins at Dixie State Tournament

After a long time on the road with tournaments in numerous states and facing the best competition in the country, the Southern Utah University softball team played in Utah for the first time this season at the Dixie State Softball Tournament, bringing home two wins. 

Versus Dixie State University

The Thunderbirds started out the tournament against host Dixie State University on Thursday, March, 10. SUU dropped the first game to Dixie State 3-1. 

The Trailblazers gained traction early with a single from Carly Eldredge to the third baseline and followed up with a hit to right field from Shea Clements. The hit from Clements brought Eldredge around the bases for the first run of the day. 

Makall Whetten gave Southern Utah their first hit of the day in the top of the second inning. In the bottom of the second, Dixie State kept the hitting parade going with Rachel Campbell homering to left field for a 2-0 lead. 

The fourth inning was a true show of hitting for both teams. SUU gained three hits coming from Jayne Sepulveda, Makenna Calderon and Whetten with her second hit of the day. With the bases loaded and one out, Dream Weaver flew out to left field for the sacrifice fly giving Sepulveda the opportunity to score.

Dixie State scored in the bottom of the fourth with Marisa Rubio singling to left field. Eldredge continued her hot day at the plate with a walk, sending Rubio to second. Capri Franzen allowed a single from Laura Lockard to right field, resulting in Rubio scoring.

The fifth and sixth innings were followed by phenomenal pitching for both teams with no team scoring. SUU could not find any momentum in the seventh inning. Dixie State’s Attlyn Johnston, who finished with ten strikeouts and the win, was relieved in the seventh by Kate Dolinski. Dolinski received the safe — her first of the season. Franzen received the loss for the Thunderbirds. 

Notable stats

Gianna Carosone went 2-4.

Sepulveda went 2-4 with the only run for the Thunderbirds.

Whetten went a perfect 3-3 from the plate. 

Versus the University of New Mexico

Friday, March11, was the day of the doubleheader for the Thunderbirds with the first game against the University of New Mexico. SUU fell 5-3 to New Mexico. 

The Lobos started the contest lights out in the top of the first, scoring four runs. Franzen allowed her first walk of the day, allowing Peyton Robinson to get to first base. Ashley Archuleta was next up to bat, hitting a single up the middle. Andrea Howard got on base, setting up Leslie Romero with a line drive single resulting in Robinson scoring. Taryn Young also got on base and Janae Cameron was walked — resulting in the bases being loaded for the Lobos. 

Reyan Tuck singled to third base with Romero scoring. The scoring continued with Olivia Birkinshaw being walked, allowing Young the easy run home. Franzen gave her fourth walk of the day to Briana Martinez as a result of the walk Cameron scored. The top of the first ended with Robinson striking out. 

The Thunderbirds had no answers in the bottom of the first with two groundouts and one strikeout. 

In the top of the second, New Mexico gained two more hits from Archuleta and Howard. Howard scored for the Lobos off of a wild pitch from Franzen. The bottom of the second saw SUU get their first runner on base with Whetten who was hit by a pitch. 

The third inning showed no scoring for both teams. The Thunderbirds did get their first two hits of the day from Madison Sanders and Sophia Masut. 

Stellar pitching was the story of the fourth inning with neither team getting on base. Franzen took care of business, shutting out the Lobos in the top of the fifth. 

The bottom of the fifth, SUU started a rally of their own, scoring three runs.

Riley Shue started it off with a single down the middle. Sophia Maust kept it going with a single down the right field line, letting Shue get to third base. Carosone hit the ball towards left field for an RBI single resulting in Shue scoring.

On the next play, Carosone stole second base to get the T-Birds’ runners in a better scoring position. Sepulveda gave the Thunderbirds two more runs with Maust and Carosone scoring to finish the inning. 

Lobos pitcher Amber Linton pitched a complete game, earning the win while Franzen received the loss for SUU. 

Notable stats

Carosone 1-4 with one run, one RBI, one SB

Sepulveda 1-3, two RBI

Shue 1-3, one run

Maust 2-3, one run

Versus the University of Maine

The second game of the doubleheader for the Thunderbirds was a show of offensive power for both teams. SUU was stumped by the University of Maine Black Bears 7-4. 

SUU was first to put their tally on the board, scoring in the top of the first. Sepulveda tripled on her first at bat. Next up, Whetten doubled, allowing Supulveda to score. The Black Bears also scored two runs. Brianna Neely started off the day with a single. Later on in the inning, Kebly Drews homered to left field, giving Maine the 2-1 lead. 

The second inning was scoreless with nobody getting on base for the T-Birds and two batters for Maine getting on base. 

The third inning was all Southern Utah with Carosone kicking it off for the T-Birds with a single. Sepulveda continued her amazing day with a single. The next at bat, both runners advanced bases due to a passed ball. The next play, Whetten was hit by a pitch — loading the bases. Shue hit a single up the middle with Carosone scoring. 

Reilly Williams was walked by Fallon, allowing Sepulveda to score and give the Thunderbirds the 3-2 lead. 

SUU could not continue the third inning hot streak into the fourth inning. Maine took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth with two runs.

SUU was held scoreless once again in the top of the fifth. Maine added three more insurance runs. Grace Owen relieved Keimon Winston off of pitching duty. Kent reached first on a fielder’s choice, resulting in Jasmine Gray scoring for Maine. Kent scored off a double from Kyrah Dailey. Dailey scored off a single from Kennedy Priest to make it 7-3, Black Bears. 

The fifth inning was the decider with neither team scoring in the sixth. The Thunderbirds scored one run from Whetten but it was not enough to muster a comeback.

Notable stats

Carosone 2-4, one run

Sepulveda 2-4, two runs 

Whetten 1-2, one run, one RBI 

Versus the University of Wisconsin

Looking for a fresh start after going 0-3 in the Dixie State Tournament, SUU won against Big Ten foe University of Wisconsin 4-3. 

This was Southern Utah’s second win of the season and first win over a power five team this season.

The Thunderbirds started off hot with scoring in the top of the first. Carosone started it off with a single. Carosone got to second base with her blazing speed off of a Sepulveda bunt attempt. Carosone advanced to third off of a Badger error and then stole home. 

Winston started for SUU and pitched two shutout innings before Wisconsin answered in the bottom of the third. The Badgers scored two runs off a rampage of hits to take the lead 2-1 at the end of the third. 

Wisconsin put another run on the board in the bottom of the fourth off an error that led Ally Miklesh to reach third base. Lauren Foster hit an RBI single to bring Miklesh home. 

The fifth inning was scoreless and looked to be leaning the way of the Badgers until the top of the sixth inning when Shue hit a three-run homer. The rally started with a Carosone single, her second hit of the game, and then Whetten who was hit by a pitch that brought up Shue. Shue belted the ball towards right field and flew over the wall for the three-run homer. 

Wisconsin tried to ignite some offense in the sixth inning but was shut down by pitcher Owen. Owen finished off the Badgers in the seventh for the SUU victory.

Notable stats

Carosone 2-4, two runs

Shue 1-3, 3 RBI, one run 

Whetten 1-2, one run  

Versus the University of Maine 

SUU looked to get revenge against Maine on Sunday, March13, and they accomplished just that. The Thunderbirds were now winners of two straight with a dominating 6-2 win over the Black Bears. 

The T-birds kicked off the first inning with a fight. With two outs, Whetten hit a single and the next at bat, Shue, put up a hit to put runners on first and second.Calderon reached first on an error which loaded the bases for Williams. Williams took the walk to bring Whetten home. Weaver then got hit by a pitch which brought Shue home to make it 2-0. 

SUU starting pitcher Franzen was lights out, only allowing one runner on base for Maine through the first three innings. The Thunderbird bats were on fire in the bottom of the third. Whetten and Calderon got on base once again along with Williams who got another walk to load the bases. With Weaver up to bat, she took the 3-2 count for a walk to bring Whetten home for the second time. Kylee Terrell popped a sacrifice fly to bring Calderon home. Masut helped score the last run of the inning with an RBI single resulting in Williams scoring. 

In the fourth inning, Keely Clark put Maine on the board with a two-RBI single to make the score 5-2. 

Franzen shutout the Black Bears the rest of the way and SUU scored an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. Franzen pitched a complete game and finished with a career high eight strikeouts. 

Notable stats

Whetten 2-4, two runs 

Shue 1-3, one run

Williams- one run, one RBI 

Masut 2-3, one RBI 

Article by: Anthony Colasuono

Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics