ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team continued its early-season win streak with a doubleheader sweep over visiting Montana State-Billings on Monday.
It was all about offense on this day, with the Trailblazers racking up 21 runs in the twinbill. DSU won 8-2 and 13-5.
Brookly Beardshear went to 2-0, pitching the complete game and holding the Yellowjackets to only two runs. The Trailblazers hit a characteristically low .250 for the game, but it was enough to pile up eight runs.
“We did not hit the ball well, but our hits were timely,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “And we still got a lot of runners on base. We had eight walks and three players hit by pitch.”
The first hit was indeed timely as Arista Honey planted the second pitch she saw over the left field fence. The home run came when the bases were full, giving Honey the grand slam and DSU a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
“I did not know the bases were loaded,” said Honey. “I knew Cheetah (Janessa Bassett) was at third so I was just trying to get it to the outfield for a hit or sacrifice. I did not realize it had gone out until I rounded first.”
Bassett had reached with a HBP while Josey Hartman and Jessica Gonzalez had drawn walks. The runs scored in the first would be all that Dixie State would need.
In the top of the second, the Yellowjackets’ Cameron Cassinelli hit a home run straight over the center field fence to get MSU-Billings on the board.
Dixie State would not need them, but got insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Gonzalez hit a solo home run in the fifth. Mallory Paulson got a two-run single in the sixth before Gonzalez sacrificed in Bailey Gaffin for the final run of the game.
“There were a couple of innings where we left some people on base,” said Simkins. “But we got the early lead and got some good pitching and defense to preserve it.”
The second game progressed differently as it was the Yellowjackets that took the early lead. MSU-Billings scored in the first, but Paulson doubled in Hartman in the bottom of the first to tie the score 1-1.
In the third inning, the Yellowjackets scored four runs, all unearned. Heading into the bottom of the inning, Dixie State faced its largest deficit of the year, 5-1. Shelby Yung and Bassett both singled to get on base. Hartman then sacrificed in Yung. Gaffin then singled in Bassett. After a Dixie State strikeout for the second out, it looked as though the inning would soon be over.
“At that point, I actually felt pretty good,” said Simkins. “The attitude in the dugout was up and I knew we were going to put some runs up on the board. I was more concerned about our defense at that point.”
The Dixie State offensive machine rallied for nine runs after getting that second out. Gonzalez and Honey both singled, each scoring the runner in front of them. Kenzie Sawyer and Cassidy Morton then drew walks to load the bases. Honey then scored on a wild pitch. Yung loaded the bases again with a walk. Bassett singled to short, scoring a run and advancing the runners. Then Gaffin hit a grand slam down the right field line.
“Their pitcher had thrown my first pitch outside,” said Gaffin. “Earlier in the inning, she had pitched outside and then came inside on the next pitch. So I was looking for it. She delivered. I got out in front of it and pulled it. I knew as soon as I hit it that it was gone.”
The Yellowjackets got out of the inning before any more runs had scored, but the damage was done. Dixie State scored 11 runs in the inning and led 12-5.
The Blazers put up another run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Bassett. The Yellowjackets were retired in order in the fifth inning and Dixie State won by mercy rule.
“We hit the ball much better in the second game,” said Simkins. “There are still some players who are not where they should be at the plate, but they will get there.”
Alexis Barkwell got the win in relief, pitching 2.1 shutout innings and allowing only one hit.
For the day, Bassett was 3 for 4 with four stolen bases. Honey hit 3 for 6 with five RBIs.
Dixie State moves to 4-0 and will play next on Thursday in hosting the Easton Classic. The Blazers will begin play Thursday afternoon with a game against future RMAC foe Colorado State-Pueblo at 3 p.m. All of Dixie State’s games in the classic will be played at the Canyons Softball Complex, field 4. MSU-Billings falls to 1-6 on the season.
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