This weekend, the Southern Utah University softball team will head to California to participate in the Fresno State Invitational tournament. They are scheduled to play five games, including two against Idaho State University, two against the University of California, Davis, and one against Fresno State University.
The Thunderbirds are 1-7 after two weekends of play, putting them last in the Western Athletic Conference. Their only win came against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Feb. 12.
Emily Gonzalez has been the team’s offensive leader so far, hitting .476 through their eight games. Miranda Lopez and Jayne Sepulveda have also been consistent and are hitting .375 and .370, respectively. Gonzalez’s six and Sepulveda’s four RBIs make them the team leaders when it comes to bringing runs across. Gonzalez has also been the strongest bat for Southern Utah with her three extra-base hits, including two doubles and one of the team’s two home runs. Madison Sanders supplied the other, but it is one of just two hits for her so far. The Thunderbirds have hit .254 collectively with a .330 on-base percentage.
The go-to pitcher for SUU has been Keimon Winston, who has started five of the eight games. She currently holds a 6.84 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .429 against her. Her 2.58 WHIP, or walks plus hits per innings pitched, also reflects the 10 walks she has issued. After pitching 11 innings, Payton Goodrich has the best ERA for the Thunderbirds with 3.82. She holds opponents to a .244 batting average. Riley Nielson leads all SUU pitchers in strikeouts after putting down eight batters on strikes through 14.1 innings pitched. Together, Southern Utah has a 8.75 ERA with a .405 batting average against them.
The Bengals have played 11 games up to this point and have accrued a 4-7 record. They are fourth in the Big Sky Conference.
Ava Brown, Alyssa Yee and Olivia Robison, all freshmen, are hitting over .400 for Idaho State. Yee also leads the team in RBIs and extra-base hits after bringing in nine runs and sending out three home runs. Skyler Sethman comes in right behind her with eight RBIs. The Bengals have shown their speed by going 13 for 16 on stolen base attempts, including a perfect 3 for 3 from Gracie Smith. As a team, they hit .309 with a .372 on-base percentage.
Jordan Schuring and Emma McMurray have split the starts on the mound. Schuring leads the way, having earned two of the team’s four wins while putting together a 2.33 ERA. She even pitched a complete game shutout against the University of Illinois, Chicago. McMurray has held opponents to a .276 average but has walked 11 and hit four through her 16 and one-third innings pitched. The Bengals have a team ERA of 3.60 and allow opponents to hit .286 against them.
Fresno State is sixth in the Mountain West Conference with their 5-5 record. They are coming off of a 10-0 win against Idaho State.
Keahilele Mattson’s .400 batting average is the best on the team. With .375, Juliana Wilson is a close second. The Bulldogs’ RBI leader is Alesia Densby, who has brought in 13 runs, more than double any of her teammates’ numbers. She has also hit a team-leading total of three home runs. Together, the Bulldogs have gone a perfect 13 for 13 on stolen base attempts. They hit .252 as a team and have a .379 on-base percentage.
Freshman Serayah Neiss is the primary starter for Fresno State. She has struck out 18 batters in 20.1 innings pitched and has collected a 3.79 ERA. She allows a .302 batting average along with a 1.77 WHIP. Taylor Gilmore, a reliever, has the best ERA on the team with 2.50. She averages one strikeout per inning and allows batters to hit .300 against her. Shelbi Denman is also a standout with her 2-0 record and 12 strikeouts through 13.1 innings. The Bulldogs have put up a 3.71 ERA overall and give up a .311 batting average to opponents.
The Aggies’ 6-3 record puts them in third place in the Big West Conference. Despite their .667 winning percentage, they have lost their last two games.
Sarah Nakahara and Anna Dethlefson guide UC Davis at the plate, hitting .458 and .455, respectively. The next highest average for the Aggies is .280. Nakahara is tied with Libbie McMahan for the highest RBI total with four. Dethlefson has hit the sole home run for UC Davis, which is accompanied by her four doubles to give her the most extra-base hits on the team. She also leads the team in steals after going 4 for 4 on stolen base attempts to contribute to the team’s perfect 12 for 12. The Aggies hit .257 as a whole with a .315 on-base percentage.
The UC Davis pitchers have been rather dominant so far, as four out of five of them hold ERAs below two. Kenedi Brown, having earned four of the team’s six wins, has two complete games under her belt, including one shutout. She boasts a 1.72 ERA with a .119 average against her and a 0.79 WHIP. She has collected 16 strikeouts and given up just eight hits through her 20 and a third innings on the mound. Taylor Fitzgerald and Sarah Reineman have her beat when it comes to ERA, though, and have put together 1.67 and 1.68, respectively. They have also earned one win each and have both pitched complete games. The Aggies’ pitching has a collective 1.78 ERA and allows opponents to hit .230 against them.
The first two games will take place on Friday, Feb. 24. Southern Utah will face Idaho State at 4 p.m. before taking on Fresno State at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, will see the second game against Idaho State at 10 a.m. and the first game against UC Davis at 4 p.m. The Thunderbirds will wrap up competition at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, against UC Davis. The entirety of the tournament will be held at Margie Wright Diamond in Fresno, California. All times are listed as MST.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield