ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team opened its 2016 season with a loss to 13th-ranked Humboldt State, 4-1, Saturday at Karl Brooks Field.
The Jacks, one of three ranked teams in the DSI Invitational, rode the hot hand of pitcher Katie Obbema. She scattered seven hits and allowed only one unearned run to DSU. Dixie State pitcher Aryn Feickert also pitched masterfully, allowing only five hits. The Jacks put across four runs, all unearned.
“Aryn Feickert pitched great today,” DSU coach Randy Simkins said. “We made some uncharacteristic defensive errors that cost us late. None of the runs that scored were earned.”
With the game tied 1-1, the Jacks put together a decisive run in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Illa Haley reached on a fielder’s choice. She was followed by Hannah Holland, who drew a walk. Simkins called on third baseman Brooklyn Beardshear to relieve starter Aryn Feickert. Beardshear struck out the first batter, but Jacks second baseman Tiffany Hollingsworth hit the ball to deep right-center, scoring Haley. Another fielding error scored Holland and Hollingsworth to give HSU a decisive 4-1 edge.
“We have to close out innings,” Simkins said. “We need to back up our pitching with good defense.”
In the bottom of the seventh, the Storm looked to rally with Janessa Bassett and Shelby Yung collecting hits. But Josey Hartman’s line drive was caught by her counterpart, Cyndi Chavez, to end the game.
The game was scoreless through four innings. The Storm threatened a few times in the opening innings by getting players into scoring position. But each time, Obbema’s pitching and the defense behind her got HSU out of the inning unscathed.
“Against good teams, we have to get those runs across,” Simkins said. “We stranded five runners in scoring position in the first four innings.”
The Storm defense early was impressive. Catcher Autumn Woodfall made three outstanding throws to catch Jack runners stealing. Shelby Yung also made a great throw from right field to hold a runner at third and prevent a run.
But in the top of the fifth, Williams scored on a DSU fielding error. Dixie State answered in the bottom of the sixth. First baseman Mallory Paulson reached on a throwing error that allowed pinch runner Taylor Godfrey to score, setting up the seventh inning rally from Humboldt State.
The game featured four players that are on the National Top 50 Watch List. Feickert took the loss but opened the season with a 0.0 earned run average, pitching 6.1 innings. Bassett batted 2 for 3 and reached a third time with a walk. She also had two stolen bases. For HSU, Hollingsworth was 2-4 with an RBI. Holland was 1-2 with two walks and one stolen base.
In addition to Woodfall’s defensive performance, she also was 2-3 with a double.
“We got good production from our experienced players,” said Simkins. “We missed opportunities at the plate. I think as the players get some more experience, their production will improve.”
Dixie State will take on the other ranked team in this invitational Saturday. West Texas A&M swept its two games Friday and entered the weekend ranked 22nd.
“We are playing some good teams this weekend,” said Simkins. “We can gauge where we are at as a team and where we need to improve.”
Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Brooks Field.
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