Thunderbird softball kicks off the season at the UNLV Classic 

Southern Utah University softball started the 2023 campaign in Las Vegas at the UNLV classic. The Thunderbirds faced off against Baylor University, the University of Arkansas and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

SUU versus Baylor

Southern Utah kicked off opening day against the Baylor Bears. The Bears started the first inning swinging for the fences and scored their first run of the game off the bat of Shaylon Govan. The Thunderbirds were shut out in the bottom of the first. 

Neither team could muster any runs in the second inning. 

The top of the third inning was an offensive showcase where the Bears scored five runs and led 6-0. The Thunderbirds made a pitching change, bringing in freshman Riley Nielson for sophomore starter Keimon Winston. 

In the bottom of the third, the Thunderbirds scored their first run of the 2023 season. Junior Miranda Lopez got on base with a single, and sophomore Jayne Sepulveda followed suit with the same. Freshman Emily Gonzalez hit a single as well, bringing Lopez to score. At the end of the third inning, SUU trailed 6-1. 

The Bears scored another run in the fourth inning, extending their lead to 7-1. SUU would be held scoreless during the fourth inning. The Thunderbirds scored their second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Redshirt senior Josey White hit a single, bringing Sepulveda around the bases. SUU trailed 7-2. 

Baylor finished off the Thunderbirds with a five-run sixth inning. This brought the mercy rule into effect, and Baylor won 12-2. 

SUU versus UNLV 

Junior Shelby Basso got the nod to start the second game of the season versus the hosting UNLV Rebels. 

The Thunderbirds scored the first run of the game in the first inning. Gonzalez hit another RBI single, allowing Sepulveda to score. UNLV responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first, giving UNLV the 3-1 lead. 

Southern Utah could not get any offense started in the top of the second. The Rebels added another run, increasing the lead to 4-1. 

The Thunderbirds got their offense going to score two runs in the third. Senior Madison Sanders hit a two-run home run, cutting the lead down to a run. That would be the last run scored by the Thunderbirds, while UNLV scored nine runs through the latter innings and won 13-3. 

SUU versus Arkansas 

The Thunderbirds started the second day of the UNLV Classic against the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks. 

Arkansas got on the board first with a one-run home run from graduate student Kristina Foreman. Southern Utah did not get on the board in the bottom of the first. 

SUU came back with a huge response in the bottom of the second. The Thunderbirds scored the first run due to a throwing error by the Razorbacks. The second run came off a sacrifice fly from sophomore Amyah Boostedt, allowing Gonzalez to score. Southern Utah took a 2-1 lead going into the third inning. 

Neither team scored in the third inning. The Razorbacks scored nine runs throughout the rest of the game and held the Thunderbirds to no runs. Arkansas won 10-2. 

SUU versus Baylor 

Southern Utah faced the Baylor Bears once again, looking for revenge and their first win of the season. Winston got the nod to start the fourth game. 

Both teams went scoreless in the first inning. Baylor scored in the second inning and held a 1-0 lead. The Thunderbirds responded with two runs in the top of the third. White hit a 2 RBI double down the line that brought Lopez and Sepulveda in to score, giving SUU the 2-1 lead. 

The Bears would not go down without a fight, scoring three runs to take the lead 4-2. SUU failed to respond, going scoreless in the third and fourth innings. Baylor added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth and walked to a 5-2 win over SUU. 

SUU versus UNLV 

The Thunderbirds looked to rebound and get their first win of the season against the Rebels. The first inning saw neither team on the scoreboard. Southern Utah started the second inning on a strong note, scoring three runs. Lopez earned a walk, and Sepulveda followed suit with a single that put runners on first and second. Freshman Alayah Toscano hit an RBI single, allowing Lopez to score. Sepulveda and Toscano scored on an error on the next play. SUU led 3-0 at the end of the second inning, while UNLV’s first scored run came in the bottom of the fourth. 

The Thunderbirds responded with a monstrous top of the fifth, scoring three more runs. White started the inning with a single, and Sanders followed with a walk. Gonzales hit a single into center field, bringing in a run. Junior Capri Franzen hit a crucial 2 RBI double that brought the last two base runners home. At the end of the fifth, SUU led 6-1. 

The Rebels tried to make it close at the end, scoring two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, but it was not enough. The Thunderbirds won 6-4, earning their first win of the season. 

Next up

The Thunderbirds will travel to face the University of California, Santa Barbara for a three-game series starting Friday, Feb. 17. The first pitch will be at 1 p.m. MST. 


Article by: Anthony Colasuono

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