Nationally-ranked No. 15 Dixie State University softball continued its swing in the right direction with a four-game sweep of conference foe Hawaii Pacific University over the weekend.
The Storm came out hot, piling six first inning runs on the Sharks in Saturday’s first game. Sophomore outfielder Janessa Bassett led the way for DSU as she went 3-3 from the plate. Junior outfielder Shelby Yung and junior infielder Brooklyn Beardshear both went 2-2 and combined for four RBI’s in the 13-1 victory.
The second game didn’t come quite as easily as DSU needed extra innings to down the Sharks.
HPU took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Bassett found a hole in left field to score freshman infielder Bailey Gaffin and send the game to extras where freshman catcher Jessica Gonzalez played hero.
With a tied ball game and two runners on in the bottom of the tenth, Gonzalez smacked the first pitch of her at bat over the left-field wall to give the Storm a 7-4 walk-off win.
“That’s hands down one of the best feelings you can have in the sport,” said Gonzalez, a business major from Kingsburg, California. “Coming around third and seeing your teammates cheering for you before you touch home is what the game’s all about.”
Bassett continued her hot streak, going 4-5 at the plate and adding two RBI’s. Senior Aryn Feickert picked up both wins from the circle, striking out 10 batters in 7.2 innings to move to 10-3 on the season.
The Storm needed extra innings once again on Sunday when HPU scored a trio of runs in the bottom of the seventh to knot things up at three.
With the pressure on, DSU was forced to make a play in the eighth. With two runners in scoring position, the Storm defense came through. Junior Josey Hartman fielded a ground ball and got the out at second where Gaffin made the tag and threw a scorcher to home plate to complete the double-play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Yung singled to right field to set Gonzalez up with another game-winning opportunity. She came through once again, blasting one to deep left field and scoring Yung for the 4-3 win.
“[Gonzalez] had a heck of a weekend,” said Yung, a communication major from Upland, California. “We fell flat offensively and let them hang around, but [Gonzalez] came through for us again big time.”
Head coach Randy Simkins said he has been extremely impressed with the underclassmen so far.
“They’re growing up,” Simkins said. “They’re realizing that every play, every at bat, is just as important as the next. We have a philosophy of being one-pitch warriors. We take every pitch, every game and every moment one step at a time, and I think that’s helping them settle in.”
The Storm kept that momentum going to complete the sweep, beating HPU 8-0 in the final game of the series.
Yung went 2-4 with two RBI’s in game two, and Hartman added an RBI on 2-2 from the plate. Beardshear picked up the win from the circle and went 2-3 in the batters box.
DSU will continue a very busy week as they head to California for eight games in five days with double-headers against conference foes Notre Dame de Namur University, Dominican University and Chico State University.