SUU softball picks up two wins in Capitol Classic Tournament

In this weekend’s Capitol Classic Tournament, the Southern Utah University softball team went 2-3. Though they were scheduled for six games, an afternoon matchup against Siena College was canceled due to weather. SUU now sits at 3-10 overall and is last place in the Western Athletic Conference.

Game one, March 3

The Thunderbirds took on the Gaels of Saint Mary’s College of California to kick off the weekend. They started the tournament on a high note by taking a 4-3 victory.

Southern Utah’s four RBIs were supplied by Madison Sanders, Capri Franzen, Bella Garcia and Miranda Lopez. Sepulveda, Sanders and Garcia also hit the only three extra-base hits of the game, each of them being doubles. Garcia was the sole Thunderbird with a multi-hit game after going 2 for 3. Riley Nielson, who started the game, earned her first win of the season. She just missed a complete game, pitching six of the seven innings. She allowed all three of Saint Mary’s runs, though only two of them were earned. Keimon Winston relieved Nielson in the final inning and put the Gaels down in order to earn her first career save.

Left fielder Holly Lusk had both RBIs for Saint Mary’s. They came off her only hit of the game in the second inning to put the Gaels ahead 2-0. Rylee Gomez, who scored off Lusk’s hit, went 2 for 3 to become the only Gael with more than one hit. Kailey O’Connor started on the mound, pitching five and one-third, striking out one and giving up all four of SUU’s runs. Chelsea Bennett came in to finish the sixth and ended the inning without allowing a hit.

Game two, March 3

Southern Utah’s momentum shifted in their second game, as they were blanked by the Sacramento State University Hornets. In the five-inning game, Sacramento State came out on top 12-0.

The Thunderbirds narrowly avoided being no-hit by the Hornets thanks to Sepulveda’s single to lead off the game. SUU had just one other base runner after that when Sophia Masut was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Payton Goodrich was the Thunderbirds’ starter but only pitched one-third of an inning after walking four and giving up five runs. She was assigned the loss after facing just seven batters. Winston came on in relief, followed by Shelby Basso, and the two tried to control the damage until the end of the game.

Due to four defensive errors by the Thunderbirds, only nine of the Hornets’ 12 runs were listed as earned. Nikki Barboza went 2 for 3 with three of the RBIs, while Caroline Evans contributed two more. The rest were distributed throughout the lineup. Savannah Wahl pitched the complete game for Sacramento State and struck out four to earn her third win of the season.

Game three, March 4

SUU had their highest scoring game of the season so far when they beat Alabama State University 9-5. It was the Hornets’ third loss of the tournament and their seventh of the year.

Emily Gonzalez guided the Thunderbirds through an offense-heavy afternoon by hitting two home runs and collecting four RBIs. Garcia also had multiple RBIs after two runs came around on her only hit of the game. Basso started on the mound for Southern Utah but allowed three runs and gave up seven hits. After three innings, Winston came in to finish and earned the win, striking out four and allowing just four hits.

Despite being on the losing end, the Alabama State Hornets outhit the Thunderbirds. Five different players had multi-hit games for the Hornets, including JaNiyah Boykin, who also scored two runs. Starter Ashley Pye went five innings and allowed eight runs on eight hits before being replaced by Olivia Brown. Brown closed out the final two innings but let SUU’s final run cross the plate.

Game four, March 5

The Saint Mary’s Gaels got their revenge on Sunday afternoon when they beat SUU 3-0. It was their second of two wins in the Capitol Classic Tournament.

The Thunderbirds were held to just four hits through the seven innings. Sepulveda, Nielson, Allie Laub and Alayah Toscano each singled for SUU. Winston and Basso split the game on the mound, but Winston was given the loss after giving up all three Gael runs. 

Victoria Castillo led the Saint Mary’s offense with her two-run home run in the first inning to put the scoreboard operator to work. The Gaels’ other RBI came from Angelina Franco, who brought a run during the third inning. Freshman Odhi Vasquez had an impressive outing as the only Saint Mary’s pitcher to touch the rubber. She held Southern Utah to just six base runners while striking out eight across the seven innings.

Game five, March 5

Southern Utah ended the tournament with a loss against the University of California, Davis. They were held at bay by the Aggies’ pitching staff in the 5-0 game.

Toscano, Nielson and Garcia provided the Thunderbirds’ only three hits of the game. Winston and Nielson tag-teamed the game for Southern Utah. Nielson was assigned the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits.

Sophia Eftekhari brought in two runs for the Aggies on one hit and reached home herself. Anna Dethlefson and Leah Polson had multi-hit games, each contributing two hits to the game. Both of Dethlefson’s hits came in the form of doubles, one of which brought a run to the plate. Kenedi Brown pitched the first six innings for UC Davis and struck out eight Thunderbirds. She earned the win and improved her record. Taylor Fitzgerald closed out the game and did not allow any base runners.

Looking ahead

The Thunderbirds will head to Reno, Nevada, next weekend to participate in the Wolf Pack Classic Tournament. They are scheduled to play four games.


Story and photos by: Anden Garfield