Blazer softball falls short of sweep, conference title

Dixie State's Brenna Hinck (22), file photo from Dixie State University vs. Southern Utah University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Dixie State softball team needed to sweep Cal Baptist to keep its conference championship hopes alive. They fell one win short. After winning the first three games, the Trailblazers fell to Cal Baptist in the last game. The Lancers clinched the PacWest with that win. Dixie State currently sits tied for second with Azusa Pacific.

DSU 3, CBU 1

Game one turned out to be a defensive battle like the previous two games in the series. Dixie State put up three runs in the first inning, then had to ride that production to the end of the game. Brooklyn Beardshear limited the Lancers to only eight hits. She struck out three and walked none. Through the first six innings, CBU only had four hits.

Janessa Bassett started the game by singling through the left side. She then stole second. Dani Bartholf moved her to third on a sacrifice bunt. Then Shelby Yung got an RBI with a sacrifice fly in foul territory by right field. Mallory Paulson drew a walk. Arista Honey then singled. Honey advanced to second base on an errant throw. Riley Tyteca entered the game to pinch run for Honey. Jessica Gonzalez then singled up the middle to score Paulson and Tyteca.

Beardshear would not allow more than one runner at any given time over the first six innings. Then, with the loss looming, the Lancers reacted almost like a cornered rattlesnake and came out with all they could muster in the seventh inning.

Erin Burkhart started the inning with a single up the middle. Hannah Thieroff hit it through the middle as well and moved Burkhart to third. Beardshear struck out the next batter. A third single in the inning scored Burkhart. Krista Mann then singled down the left field line, but Shelby Yung fielded the ball to keep the runner from second from advancing beyond third base.

The next batter then hit the ball to DSU first baseman Mallory Paulson, who threw to catcher Gonzalez to get the force and the second out. Beardshear then took the next batter, Soraya Shahbazian, to a full count. With the runners going, Shahbazian hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Josey Hartman, who got the force at first to end the game.

CBU 7, DSU 5

Dixie State scored first in the second game as well. Paulson hit a solo home run in the first at-bat of the inning. That lead would hold up until the fourth inning, when CBU was able to get multiple runners on for the first time in the series.

After a base hit, DSU pitching walked three consecutive batters to score CBU’s first run. The next batter, Caitlyn Lloyd, hit a grand slam to put the Lancers up 5-1. Cal Baptist added two insurance runs in the sixth — which turned out to be necessary. Three singles accounted for the first run, while the second came on a fielding error.

In the seventh, it was clear that Dixie State knew the stakes of the game. Bailey Gaffin drew a walk to begin the inning. Kaitlyn Delange took over for Gaffin as the pinch runner and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a ground out, Hartman singled to put runners at the corners, then stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Bassett then singled to score Delange. The next batter lined out. The Blazers were down to their last out.

Shelby Yung was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Taylor Godfrey entered the game to pinch run for Yung. Paulson then singled to third base, scoring Hartman. Arista Honey then singled up the middle to score Godfrey and Bassett and make it 7-5.

Gonzalez then came to bat. The Lancers made a pitching change. Representing the go-ahead run, there is probably no one Coach Randy Simkins would rather have at the plate than Gonzalez. She leads the team with 10 home runs and .633 slugging percentage. But it was not to be as Gonzalez hit a fly ball to right field to end the game.

The split moved DSU to 37-12 overall and 22-8 in the PacWest. They will return to St. George next Saturday and finish out their season hosting Academy of Art. They will honor five seniors (Paulson, Yung, Hartman, Beardshear and Honey) for senior day.

CBU has finished its regular season with a 26-6 conference record (36-11 overall).

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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