CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Big Sky Conference season is underway and the Wildcats earned a split on opening day.
The Weber State University softball team dropped a frustrating heart-breaker 8-7 to Southern Utah in the team’s first meeting on Friday afternoon, but bounced back with a decisive response in the second game to level their fledgling league record, taking an 8-3 decision at the Thunderbirds’ Berg Field.
Junior catcher Mylee Davis had a strong day at the plate, pounding out four hits in the two games with three RBI to lead Weber State (1-1 Big Sky, 18-11 overall).
Junior center fielder Malia Campos had three hits and two RBI, while freshman right fielder/first baseman Sara Hingsberger had three hits – including a solo home run in the second game, and freshman first baseman Krystin Kubo also had three hits.
The first game tilted back and forth several times, beginning with Weber State charging out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
Southern Utah (1-1, 8-17) answered back with two in the bottom of the inning, with the Wildcats pushing it back to 4-2 in the third.
The Thunderbirds answered in the fourth to make it 4-4, and after a scoreless fifth and sixth innings – including a dramatic bases-loaded escape by the Wildcats in the bottom of the sixth, the stage was set for a wild seventh inning.
Hingsberger led off the inning with a single to center field, and Kubo reached on an error by the T-Birds first baseman, giving the Wildcats runners in the corner with no outs. After a strikeout, Davis smashed a two RBI double to the left field fence, putting Weber State in front 6-4. Sophomore Brooke Ford, pinch hitting for freshman second baseman Mackenzi Corta, hit an RBI single up the middle that scored freshman Katelyn Robinson – pinch running for Davis – to make it 7-4.
After Southern Utah got the two outs to end the inning, the Thunderbirds’ first batter in the seventh struck out swinging. A single to second base, followed SUU’s third batter reaching on a fielder’s choice, put the Wildcats just one out away from the win.
That’s when disaster struck as Weber State committed three consecutive errors.
Back-to-back singles loaded the bases, and then Southern Utah scored twice on a fielding error at shortstop to cut the deficit to 7-6.
With runners at second and third, SUU’s next batter put the ball in play to third base, where another fielding error loaded the bases. The third error, put into play at third base, proved to be the fatal one as the throw went past first base and scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
The second game got off to a less-than-ideal start for Weber State, as the Wildcats fell behind 2-0 in the first inning.
Weber State, however, dug in its heels and quickly turned things around.
Hingsberger led off the second inning with a solo homer down the left field line, followed by a double from Kubo and a walk from sophomore left fielder Rudi Barrios.
Davis smashed her second double of the day to the left field fence, scoring Kubo, and then Corta hit a RBI single to left field, scoring Barrios.
Campos doubled in the next at-bat to score Davis, making it 4-2 and sending the Thunderbirds to the bullpen.
It didn’t matter.
Two batters later, senior shortstop Brooke Silva smashed a three-run homer over the fence at right center to make it 7-2.
Sophomore third baseman Alyson Kulp scored to make it 8-2 in the sixth after an attempt to get her out while stealing second ended in an error that brought her across home plate.
Southern Utah tallied a late run in the seventh during a shortstop-second-first double play, but Weber State quickly closed the door.
The two teams will wrap up their three-game series on Saturday at Noon at Berg Field.