OGDEN – The Wildcats keep on rolling.
Fueled by another hot day at the plate, the Weber State University softball team swept a Big Sky Conference doubleheader with in-state rival Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Softball Complex, taking a 3-2 eight-inning nail-biter in the opening game and then running away with a 9-1 win in five innings in the second.
Weber State has now won eight straight Big Sky games, and improved to 13-3 in Big Sky play (29-14-1 overall), remaining one-half game in front of Montana (13-4 Big Sky, 30-20 overall) for the league lead as the Grizzlies swept a doubleheader with Idaho State. The Wildcats also clinched a first-round bye in next month's Big Sky Conference postseason tournament with the two wins.
Senior first baseman Sara Hingsberger hit a blistering 5-for-7 at the plate with three runs scored, including the eighth-inning walk-off run in the first game. Hingsberger was also 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts and had 11 putouts.
Freshman left fielder Courtney Pestka had a highlight reel diving catch in the outfield, and was 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI, and a run scored, while senior Mackenzi Corta was 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored.
Freshman right fielder Takesha Saltern, a Top 25 finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year, was 3-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Junior right-hander Kirtlyn Bohling picked up the game one win, going all eight innings, with five hits and two earned runs. Bohling had seven strikeouts in the game, tying her with MaCauley Flint as Weber State's career strikeout leader with 273. Sophomore right-hander Tatiana Su'esu'e earned the game two win, with four hits and one earned run allowed against three strikeouts.
Weber State came out charging in the opening game, taking a 1-0 lead on Molly Horne's sacrifice fly RBI that scored Saltern, and then the Wildcats went up 2-0 after Hingsberger scored on a wild pitch.
Southern Utah tied the game up at 2-2 on a pair of two-out RBI singles in the third inning and neither team would cross the plate again until the eighth inning.
Hingsberger singled to lead off the eighth, moving to second on Horne's sacrifice bunt. Pestka singled to left field, putting runners in the corners with just one out and senior designated player Riana Splinter's fielder's choice RBI brought Hingsberger across the plate for the win.
In the second game, it was the Thunderbirds who struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
With the bases empty and two outs, Hingsberger singled to center field, with back-to-back walks by Splinter and Corta loading the bases and Peskta hit a two RBI single to right field that scored Hingsberger and Splinter to make it 2-1.
The Wildcat offense found its stride in the second, plating four runs on five hits. Saltern and Hingsberger each had RBI singles, and Corta had a two RBI single in the inning as Weber State surged ahead 6-1.
A one-out single by Corta in the fourth, followed by an RBI double from Pestka made it 7-1, and sophomore second baseman Sadie Blacker smacked a two-run shot over the fence at left field to make it 9-1, bringing the run rule into effect after the Wildcats closed down the Thunderbirds in the top of the fifth.
Following the game, in an annual tradition at Weber State, the Wildcats' six seniors – Corta, Hingsberger, KyRae Kogianes, Katelyn Robinson, Splinter, and Carley White – each received their diploma at home plate from Provost Madonne Miner. Weber State's spring commencement was Friday.
Weber State and Southern Utah will wrap up their series at Noon on Sunday at Wildcat Softball Complex.