POCATELLO, Idaho – The Wildcats made some history on Saturday afternoon.
Behind clutch hitting and even more clutch defense, the Weber State University softball team defeated rival Idaho State 7-6 and 9-6 in a Big Sky Conference doubleheader at Miller Ranch Stadium, earning a three-game series sweep of the Bengals.
It was the Wildcats’ first-ever road series sweep of a conference opponent. Weber State swept a road doubleheader in 2016 at Southern Utah, but the third game of the series was rained out.
“We had a great weekend,” Weber State coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “Our pitching staff did a terrific job of trusting our approach. I’m really proud of our toughness through this series. We played vintage Wildcat softball and I loved it.”
Weber State improved to 11-3 in Big Sky Conference play (27-14-1 overall) with its second straight league-series sweep, and became the first team to clinch a berth in the Big Sky’s postseason tournament next month. Idaho State fell to 5-9 in Big Sky action, 12-22 overall.
The Bengals took a 5-0 lead in the first inning after a Wildcat error extended the inning and Idaho State hit a two-out grand slam.
Junior left fielder Rae Gall smashed her first home run of the season on the fourth pitch of the second inning to make it 5-1, and sophomore second baseman Sadie Blacker cut the deficit to 5-2 with an RBI single that scored senior third baseman KyRae Kogianes.
After retiring the Bengals quickly in the bottom of the inning, freshman center fielder Landi Hawker walked to lead off the third, and senior first baseman Sara Hingsberger smacked her fifth home run of the year over the fence at right center to make it 5-4. Gall earned a one-out walk, and senior designated player Riana Splinter crushed a 1-0 pitch over the fence at center field to plate two runs and give Weber State the 6-5 lead.
An RBI single by Idaho State in the bottom of the inning tied the game up at 6-6.
Hingsberger hit a one-out single in the fourth, advanced to second on a passed ball, and moved to third on junior catcher Molly Horne’s at-bat, and then scored the game-winning run from third base on an illegal pitch that made it 7-6, and the Wildcats defense buckled down the rest of the game.
In Saturday second game, Weber State came out charging as freshman right fielder Takesha Saltern and Hawker hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, with an RBI double from Hingsberger plating Saltern for a 1-0 lead. A fielder’s choice RBI by Horne made it 2-0, and Splinter scored from third base on an illegal pitch for a 3-0 lead.
After Idaho State scored twice in the bottom half of the first, the Wildcat offense went back to work in the third.
Hawker singled to third base to lead off the inning, and advanced to second on a Bengal error, before Hingsberger hit her second RBI double of the game to score her and make it 4-2. After Splinter walked, the Bengals got Hingsberger on squeeze play at home, but Gall stepped up and smacked a one-out, two-run shot that plated senior pinch runner Katelyn Robinson and Gall to put Weber State ahead 6-2.
An RBI single from Horne and an RBI single from Blacker made it 8-3 in the fifth, and an RBI single from Splinter made it 9-4.
Idaho State scored one run in the sixth and seventh, but would get no closer.
Weber State will be back in action on Wednesday when the Wildcats travel to face No. 11 Utah in Salt Lake City. First pitch against the Utes is set for 5 p.m.