The second home-stand of the season for Southern Utah University softball did not go to plan for the Thunderbirds versus the University of Montana Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were too much to handle with the Thunderbirds being swept in the triple header for the second straight week.
Freshman pitcher Keimon Winston got the nod from Head Coach Don Don Williams to start the first game of the doubleheader.
Montana’s roster started the top of the first swinging for the fences—unleashing eight runs behind six walks, four hits and an error in the field by the Thunderbirds.
Allie Brock started on the mound for Montana. Brock is one of the more dominant pitchers in the Big Sky Conference, coming into the first game with 103.0 innings pitched—the 27th highest in the country.
After a shaky top of the first, The Thunderbirds got a run on the board started by Gianna Carosne hitting a single into right field. Jayne Sepulveda advanced on a fielder’s choice and then Reilly Williams crushed a line drive to the wall in left field, letting Sepulveda come around and score to cut into the Montana lead 8-1.
It was not enough with the Grizzlies roaring back and adding four more runs on the board.
The Thunderbirds did not let the lead phase them with Capri Franzen hitting her first career home run. Makenna Calderon followed up with a single. Amyah Boostedt was walked by Brock, giving the T-Birds’ runners on first and second. A wild pitch from Brock allowed runners to advance and Sophia Masut chopped one to shortstop, allowing Calderon to score trailing 12-3.
In the top of the third, Montana added another tally on the board. In the bottom of the third, Williams soared a hit into the left-field wall, resulting in her second double of the day. Calderon performed again at the plate with a triple, her first of the season resulting in Williams scoring. The lead was cut down to nine.
The Grizzlies would not back down, unleashing ten runs in the fourth making it 23-3 going into the bottom frame.
The SUU offense was stunned until the bottom of the fifth with Dream Weaver gaining a double with a hit to center field. Franzen continued her hot streak with a hit that dribbled into the outfield. Later on in the inning, Boostedt struck a fly ball high over the right field wall—giving the freshman her first career home run. Southern Utah had no more in the tank after that, dropping the first game 23-7.
Both teams gave it their all in the second game of the doubleheader. Payton Goodrich started the second game and gave Montana a zero to start the top of the first.
Makall Whetten was the first on-base for the Thunderbirds after drawing a walk. This gave Franzen the opportunity to hit her second career home run, giving SUU the 2-0 lead.
The second inning was a defensive standoff with no team putting any runs on the board. The Grizzlies got on the board in the third inning, cutting the lead down to one.
The fourth and fifth innings had both teams deadlocked with zeros across the scoreboard. In the sixth, Montana put two on the board and led the Thunderbirds 3-2. The bottom of the sixth was an offensive showcase with the Thunderbirds scoring seven runs. Weaver started the SUU hitting parade once again with a single. Calderon followed up with another single, creating runners on the corners for Southern Utah.
Reily Shue reached first on a Montana error and a passed ball on the next at bat allowed Weaver to score, tying the game. After an out, Masut blasted a single, letting Shue advance to third and Calderon scored to regain the lead 4-3. Sepulveda earned a walk, creating a bases-loaded situation. Williams followed suit with a walk, keeping the bases loaded and allowing Shue to score.
Franzen hit a high fly ball, crushing it over the left field wall to earn her third career home run and the first Thunderbird grand slam of the season. The Thunderbirds led 9-3 going into the top of the seventh.
Montana completed the miracle, scoring eight runs in the top of the seventh to give the Grizzlies the 11-9 lead.
In the final frame, Calderon stepped up to the plate and got hit by a pitch—giving SUU a potential run on first. Boostedt blasted another single, advancing runners to first and second.
Two straight line drives put the Thunderbirds to their final out. Sepulveda came through with a double belted to the right field fence, bringing both runs home to tie the game at 11 a piece. Montana played a heartbreaker by scoring three runs in the top of the eight. SUU could not get anything going as Montana won 14-11 in extra innings.
Once again, Goodrich got the nod on the mound for the Thunderbirds. Goodrich held the Montana bats to no runs in the first inning. Sepulveda hit a double to start the game but no one else got close for the Thunderbirds.
Montana scored two runs in the second inning thanks to a couple of T-Bird errors. SUU could not get the offense fired up in the bottom of the second. The score remained 2-0, Montana.
In the top of the third, the Grizzlies let the hitting and home run parade begin with 16 runs over three at-bats.
SUU got their offense going, scoring two runs in the fourth. The Thunderbirds in the bottom of the fifth started a mini rally with a solo home run from Sepulveda and racked in a couple of hits, creating bases loaded. Calderon walked, allowing Weaver to advance home. Boostedt smacked the ball out of the park for a grand slam and the second grand slam of the season for the team.
A walk by Williams once again gave SUU loaded bases but came up short at the next at-bat. The Thunderbirds fell to the Grizzlies 19-8.
The Thunderbirds will travel to face in-state rival Weber State University for a three game series starting Friday, April 8. First pitch will be at 1 p.m.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics