Storm softball rallied for a doubleheader sweep of University of Hawaii-Hilo March 30, winning their 14th straight game and moving into sole possession of first place in the Pacific West Conference in the process.
At 15-3 in conference play and 27-7 overall, the Storm control their own destiny in the hunt for at least a share of their fourth straight PacWest championship which is something the team is more than comfortable with.
“It’s an expectation for us,” Brooklyn Beardshear, a junior exercise science major from Tucson, Arizona, said. “It’s no coincidence. We have been preparing for this all year and we expect to be right where we are now.”
DSU’s recent dominance carried over to game one as the Storm came away with the 9-0 win, but the second game turned out to be a dogfight.
The Storm led from wire-to-wire in the opening matchup as junior infielder Mallory Paulson went 2-3 with three RBIs, senior catcher Autumn Woodfall went 2-3, and junior outfielder Josey Hartman sealed the 9-0 win by hitting a grand slam in the final inning.
Senior pitcher Aryn Feickert got the win from the circle to move to 15-3 on the season, but she didn’t do it alone. Freshman pitcher Alexandria Melendez relieved Feickert in the top of the fourth inning and struck out five straight batters to end the game.
Game two, however, would not come quite as easily for DSU as the first. Sophomore outfielder Janessa Bassett scored on a fielding error in the first inning, but the Vulcans matched it and took control after that.
UHH pushed in five runs in the sixth inning by way of two RBI-singles and a three-run homer to take the 6-1 lead. The quick rally was not the only one in the ball game as DSU was now set up for a comeback of the ages.
The rally caps came out in the bottom of the sixth, and DSU answered the call, scoring four runs in just as many at bats to set up the frenzy of a finish.
The Vulcans went three-up-three-down to start the following inning, and senior outfielder Kristie Johnson got on base immediately after. A sac bunt from Hartman advanced Johnson to second where she would score on a Bassett double down the left field line. This brought junior outfielder Shelby Yung, who was 2-3 at that point, to the plate.
“I was so confident that we were going to pull it out,” Yung, a communication major from Upland, California, said. “I knew all I had to do was find grass and Cheetah [Bassett] would score easily.”
Yung patiently watched the first two pitches scream past her and took a 2-0 advantage in the count before blasting pitch number three into center field for the walk-off single and the 7-6 DSU win.
“We have an awesome group of girls,” head coach Randy Simkins said. “When you’re down 6-1 and still don’t feel like you’re out of the game, you know you’ve got something special going.”
Freshman Alexis Barkwell earned the win at pitcher in game two, and Yung finished 3-4, adding two RBIs, including the capper in the seventh inning. Johnson and Bassett also got a hold of three pitches apiece in the comeback thriller.
The Storm, now halfway through their season-long eight-game homestand, will be in action again Friday against California Baptist University at 3 p.m.