OGDEN – Finally back at the friendly confines of home after nearly two months on the road, the Wildcats dug in their heels and took care of business.
Behind a pitching gem and timely hitting, the Weber State University softball team edged North Dakota twice on Friday afternoon, opening up the second weekend of Big Sky Conference action with 2-0 and 8-7 victories over the Fighting Hawks at Wildcat Softball Complex.
Weber State, which played its first 29 games spanning eight weekends away from home, improved to 3-1 in Big Sky action and 19-11-1 overall. North Dakota fell to 1-4 in Big Sky play, 13-22 overall.
“It’s great to be back at home,” Weber State coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “Our pitchers did a very nice job today. We kept everyone on the edge of their seats for sure! We showed great fight and resilience throughout the doubleheader. It’ll be another tough game tomorrow. North Dakota plays hard and will come out strong tomorrow.”
Junior right-hander Kirtlyn Bohling threw a career high-tying nine strikeouts against just two hits and no walks in a complete-game shutout of North Dakota in the opening game. Bohling faced just one batter over the minimum, and needed only 96 pitches for her 11th win of the year.
Offensively, the Wildcats pounded out nine hits, and finally broke through in the fourth inning, when junior second baseman McKinley Brinkerhoff smashed an RBI double down the right field line, scoring senior Katelyn Robinson from second base to make it 1-0. After sacrifice bunt from freshman shortstop Sydney White moved Brinkerhoff to third, freshman right fielder Takesha Saltern threaded an RBI single through the left side to score Brinkerhoff and make it 2-0.
In the second game, the Wildcats got off to a rough start as the Fighting Hawks scored on a dropped third strike in the second inning and scored two runs on errors in the third to take a 3-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings.
An RBI single to third base by Saltern in the bottom of the third cut it to 3-1, but an RBI triple from North Dakota put the lead back at three runs heading into the bottom of the fifth.
The Wildcats finally started finding their offensive rhythm, as Brinkerhoff led off the inning with a single to right field and White walked, setting up an RBI single to left field by Saltern to cut it to 4-2, and junior outfielder Rae Gall had an RBI single to center field that scored White, getting Weber State within 4-3.
After holding North Dakota in the sixth, the Wildcats tied things up with pure hustle as senior third baseman KyRae Kogianes and Brinkerhoff deftly took turns avoiding a tag out, with Kogianes sprinting home as the Fighting Hawks tried unsuccessfully to get Brinkerhoff, who finished the play safely at third, while White, whose fielder’s choice set everything off was safe at second.
Saltern walked in the next at-bat, loading the bases with just one out, and Gall smashed a two RBI single to left field to give Weber State a 6-4 lead, its first of the game. Junior designated player Molly Horne had an RBI single to center field that made it 7-4, and Gall scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-4.
North Dakota valiantly fought back in the seventh, hitting a three-run homer with two outs, but Gall caught a fly ball to left field to end the game, and give the Wildcats the win.
Weber State will wrap up the three-game series with North Dakota on Saturday. First pitch is set for Noon at Wildcat Softball Complex.