Late-game rally helps DSU softball sweep past Hawaii-Hilo

Dixie State's Alexandria Melendez (13), Dixie State University vs. Hawai'i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Bottom of the seventh inning. Game tied. Janessa “Cheetah” Bassett at second base. One out. “I’ll take that situation every time,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “And it did not hurt that the next batter was Shelby Yung.”

dsulogoYung rapped the ball to shallow center field to score Bassett and complete a comeback that saw the Red Storm score 6 runs in the final two innings to get the 7-6 win and sweep the doubleheader from Hawaii-Hilo Wednesday at Karl Brooks Field.

Dixie State blitzed the Lady Vulcans in the early game 9-0. That game certainly did not presage the effort needed to claw back for the win in the second game.

“(Hawaii-Hilo) has done this several times this season,” said Simkins. “They get blown out in Game 1 and then put up a great fight in the second games of doubleheaders. Our girls played great to get the wins today.”

GAME ONE
Dixie State 9, Hawaii-Hilo 0

The Storm put up two quick runs in the first inning. Mallory Paulson’s double down the left field line scored Bassett and Jessica Gonzalez.

Dixie State's  Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Hawai'i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Hawai’i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

But Dixie State blew the game open in the third inning. Yung began the rally with a single to third. Gonzalez doubled to left center to advance Yung to third. Autumn Woodfall then singled up the middle to score Yung, making it 3-0. Paulson had a bunt single to squeeze home Taylor Godfrey, who entered the game to pinch run for Gonzalez. Brooklyn Beardshear then walked to load the bases. Kristie Johnson also drew a walk to score Woodfall and make it 5-0. Josey Hartman then hit a grand slam over the left center wall to cap the scoring.

“I really wanted to give Aryn (Feickert) some run support,” said Hartman. “The pitch came up and in. That is one of my favorite pitches to hit.”

Feickert allowed only one hit in three innings to collect the win and go 15-3 on the year. Freshman Alexandria Melendez pitched two innings in relief and struck out every batter she faced.

Offensively, Gonzalez, Woodfall and Paulson all got multiple hits. Paulson also collected three RBIs.

GAME TWO
Dixie State 7, Hawaii-Hilo 6

As Coach Simkins alluded to, the Lady Vulcans defense stiffened in the second game. Dixie State did get a run up in the third inning when Bassett scored on a fielding error.

UH-H reciprocated in the fifth. Two consecutive errors by the DSU defense allowed Hawaii-Hilo to load the bases. With two out, Bailey Gaspar singled in the run to tie the game at 1.

The Lady Vulcans put up five runs in the top of the sixth, including a three-run shot by first baseman Cristina Menjivar. The Storm were down to six outs to get those runs back.

Beardshear led off the sixth inning with a double. “Brooklyn had just given up the runs as the pitcher,” said Simkins. “She was mad when she got to the plate. And you could just see her get madder and madder as the at-bat continued. She hit the ball solid.”

Beardshear lined the ball into the right-center gap to collect the extra-base hit. “That hit set the tone for us,” said Yung. “If she gets out, we maybe play less inspired. After she doubled, you could feel the confidence in the dugout rising.”

Dixie State's  Autumn Woodfall (00), Dixie State University vs. Hawai'i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Autumn Woodfall (00), Dixie State University vs. Hawai’i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Johnson singled to the shortstop and advanced Beardshear to third. Hartman drew a walk to load the bases. After a pop fly for the first out, Yung doubled down the left field line to score Beardshear and Johnson (cutting it to 6-3) and move Hartman to third.

After a Vulcan pitching change, Gonzalez drew a walk to load the bases again. Woodfall then singled. Hartman scored easily. Yung rounded third, but was blocked by the Vulcan catcher 10 feet from home plate. Yung had to stop and detour around the much larger player and, while doing so, the catcher collected the ball from left field and tagged Yung out. Coach Simkins argued for obstruction, but the call held.

Paulson then drew a walk to load the bases once again. Pinch hitter Arista Honey then singled to right field to score Gonzalez to make it 6-5. The inning ended with a fly out to center field but the Storm deficit had been trimmed to one.

Relief pitcher Alexis Barkwell retired all three Vulcan batters in the top of the seventh. For DSU, Johnson led off the seventh with a single up the middle. Hartman then bunt-sacrificed Johnson to second. Bassett then tied the score by doubling down the left field line to score Johnson. Yung then approached the plate.

“Score tied, Janessa Bassett at second base, only one out,” said Simkins. “We win in that situation every time.”

“I knew that if I got it past the infield, I get the game-winning RBI,” said Yung. “With the fastest person on the planet at second base, it is a sure thing.”

Yung singled to shallow center field to win the game.

Dixie State's  Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Hawai'i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Hawai’i Hilo University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Usually in those situations, the team will bring their outfielders in,” said Simkins. “Yung had just hit the ball hard in the sixth down the third base line. I think their coach had them stay back for that reason.”

The ploy misfired and Bassett made it home well in front of the center fielder’s throw. Barkwell collected the win in relief to go to 3-1 on the year. Melendez started the game and pitched four shutout innings. Bassett, Yung and Johnson each had three hits. Woodfall and Paulson had two apiece.

Dixie State moves to 27-2 overall and climbs back into first place in the conference with a 15-3 record. Hawaii-Hilo falls to 22-13 overall, 14-8 in the PacWest. The Storm will next face perennial conference contender Cal Baptist. The Lady Lancers are right behind the Storm in the PacWest standings at 13-3. The four-game series against CBU will be played April 8-9 with a doubleheader on both days. Friday’s first game is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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