ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team had a big fifth inning to erase a deficit and grab the win over the CSU-Pueblo Wolves on Thursday afternoon at Canyons Softball Complex, 5-3, in the first game of the Easton Classic..
The Trailblazers found themselves in a new situation they had not encountered yet this young season. They trailed Colorado State-Pueblo 3-1 late in the game. Freshman Riley Tyteca came to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs. Tyteca hit a rocket to third base and got the fortune of a bad hop. The resulting bobble allowed not only Tyteca to reach third, but also for Janessa Bassett and Bailey Gaffin to reach home.
“We lost on a similar bad hop last year to Humboldt State,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “That is part of the game. Riley deserves credit for hitting the ball hard and making it a difficult play.”
Gaffin, who was at second, encountered the third baseman as she rounded the base. “I was not sure if it was intentional or not,” said Simkins. “I was just thinking she better get out of the way.”
She didn’t and paid the price as the diminutive Gaffin ran over her on the way home. The collision did slow Gaffin and the home plate umpire began to signal the interference until it became clear that Gaffin would still reach home safely.
“I was on third and thinking ‘Please score me,’“ said Janessa Bassett. “When Riley got the hit, I just ran hard. Next thing I knew, Bailey had also scored and Riley ended up on third. It was awesome.”
The next batter was Jessica Gonzalez. The first pitch to the starting catcher was right at her head. She ducked in time. A couple of pitches later Gonzalez homered over the left field fence to give the Blazers their first lead.
“Honestly, I was not too surprised,” said Bassett. “I could tell how upset she was when the pitcher almost hit her in the head. I knew if the ball was close that she was going to hit it out.”
Both teams were scoreless through the first three innings. In the fourth, the Lady Wolves scored all of their runs courtesy of a three run shot by CSU-Pueblo’s Christa Angers’ home run to center field.
“I don’t want to take anything away from them,” said Simkins. “But if that is on our field, it is a routine fly ball to Bassett. The shorter fences at this complex cost us. We got good stuff from pitcher Alex Melendez today.”
Dixie State got on the board in the fourth also. Gonzalez got her first RBI of the day by singling in Tyteca.
Bassett, Bailey and Gonzalez each collected multiple hits. Melendez pitched 5.2 innings to pick up the win (1-0). Madi Dove pitched 1.1 innings to get the save.
“This was the first time Madi pitched this year,” said Simkins. “She came in with runners on first and second with two out. She got the first batter to hit right to Josey Hartman for the easy force at second. Then she struck out the first two batters in the last inning before getting the third to hit a routine ground ball to second for the easy out. She pitched great today.”
Shannon Lieber (0-1) took the loss for the Wolves. Dixie State moves to 5-0 while the Wolves fall to 0-2. The Trailblazers will play back-to-back games Friday. They will face St. Edward’s University at 3 p.m. before taking on University of Colorado-Colorado Springs at 5:30 p.m.
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