USU softball opens conference play by going 1-2 against Nevada
Utah State softball opened up conference play with a 5-4 win Friday against Nevada, but dropped its next two to the Wolf Pack.
Sophomore pitcher Delaney Hull earned her sixth win of the season going five and a third innings, before freshman Kapri Toone came in to replace her and earn her first save of the season. Toone pitched the final inning and a third and gave up no runs. While the pitching staff did its job to get the win, the Aggie bats were able to ding Nevada for seven hits, including two home runs. Junior outfielder Ryann Holmes was the only Aggie to get two hits on the afternoon, including her third home run of the season.
Her home run was part of an explosive fourth inning in which the Aggies put up four of its five runs, putting the team up 5-1 over Nevada. Senior catcher Bailey Lewis put the Aggies up four with a timely two-run homer with two on and two out, her first of the season.
Nevada made a three-run push in the sixth inning to pull within one run of the Aggies, but through a perfect inning and a half of pitching from Toone, Utah State was able to earn its first conference win of the season.
The Aggies opened up Saturday just as hot, going up 4-1 by the top of the second inning. Senior first baseman Bailee Trapp hit a leadoff single, and junior outfielder Riley Plogger doubled to right field to drive in two runs, one of her three hits on the afternoon. But Nevada was able to strike in the bottom of the second with two runs of its own. This put the Wolf Pack within striking distance, only down one run, and the team capitalized by putting up two more runs in the fourth.
Toone followed up her stellar performance Friday afternoon by going five innings and striking out three batters, but unfortunately was given her fifth loss of the season. Utah State would eventually lose 6-4.
With the series tied at one win a piece, the Aggies attempted to take the weekend win away from Nevada; but USU ultimately fell short with an 11-2 loss. While a nine-run loss may look like a blowout, for most of this game the Aggies were still very much in it. At the start of the fifth inning, Nevada was up 3-2, having just pulled the lead back from Utah State. But the Wolf Pack erupted for six runs in the bottom of the frame, four of which came off two-run homers, putting Nevada up 9-2. A pitching change in the inning split the runs between freshmen Toone and Chloe Nightingale, but ultimately starter Hull would be given her fifth loss of the season.
This Aggie team is exceptionally young, having 59 percent of its roster made up of underclassmen, but it’s already off to a better start than last season. It took until the fifth game of conference play for Utah State to earn its first win a season ago, and had an identical 9-13 record 22 games into the season. And there are some things Utah State has done well this season despite its record.
The Aggies rank sixth in the conference with a .281 team batting average, having three players in the top 23 of batting and seven batting over .300 for the season. One player that’s having a spectacular season thus far is freshman shortstop Lexi Orozco. With five home runs she ranks second in the conference and is in the top fifteen in total bases, along with a .339 batting average. Orozco is one of the many young players on this Aggie team showing how much promise this group could have moving forward.
The Aggies continue conference play this weekend with its home opener against UNLV this Friday at 3 pm mountain time.