The Dixie State University softball team blasted its way to a 4-1 record in the Cactus Classic in Tucson, Arizona.
DSU’s bats swung well throughout the weekend, scoring an average of over eight runs per game.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the weekend was when the Trailblazers beat the No. 2 team in the country, West Texas A&M University, twice in a row.
DSU also found a way to win despite giving up 16 runs in that game.
“We hit the ball really well this weekend,” head coach Randy Simkins said. “We felt really good about how the whole team played [over the course] of the weekend. We could tighten up the defense and pitch it a little better, but overall we feel good about where we are.”
Despite the overall success, the trip down to Tucson did not start out great for the Trailblazers.
DSU played Lubbock Christian University Friday and lost a close game, 2-1. The Chaparrals scored in the first inning thanks to back-to-back doubles. The Trailblazers answered back in the fourth with a double down the line by sophomore catcher Jessica Gonzalez.
An inning later, LCU retook the lead for good. DSU failed to score with runners on the corners and only one out. A two-out triple in the seventh inning by senior shortstop Josey Hartman was followed by a pop-out to left field.
The Trailblazers avenged the loss to LCU by displaying a hitting clinic against Fort Lewis College in an 18-16 comeback victory.
DSU got on the board first thanks to a couple of doubles by senior third baseman Arista Honey and senior first baseman Mallory Paulson.
FLC fired back with a 9-0 run through the fourth inning. A Gonzalez home run in the fifth sparked an 11-0 run, making it 13-9 in favor of the Trailblazers.
The Skyhawks cut the lead to two, but after several wild pitches by FLC and another homer by Gonzalez, DSU lead 18-11. The Skyhawks rallied and trimmed the lead back to two, but could not complete the comeback as No. 23 DSU won 18-16.
Day two of the Cactus Classic proved to be a good one for the Trailblazers, who went 2-0.
First up was University of Mary. Gonzalez was back at it with a two-run shot to open the scoring in the first inning. Paulson and sophomore second baseman Bailey Gaffin hit back-to-back solo shots to push the lead to 6-0.
The Marauders would not go away easily, though. After an error kept the inning alive, UM collected four hits and five runs to make it a 6-5 ballgame.
DSU sealed the game in the fifth inning after Hartman drove in two more runs with a single. DSU won 9-5.
The final game Saturday was against WTAMU the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.
The Buffs wasted no time building a lead against the Trailblazers. A triple drove in two runs and WTAMU looked to be on its way early.
An RBI single in the second by sophomore third baseman Dani Bartholf and a sacrifice fly by Honey in the third tied the game 2-2.
After the Buffs regained the lead 3-2, junior outfielder Kenzie Sawyer cranked a solo home run to tie the game 3-3.
Sawyer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and Bartholf singled right after to help DSU build a 5-4 lead. A Gaffin single in the sixth sealed an 8-4 upset victory over WTAMU.
The final game of the tournament for the Trailblazers happened to be a rematch against the Buffs.
DSU took a 2-1 lead midway through the second inning thanks to a couple of RBI singles. The Buffs responded with two homers in the second for a 5-2 lead.
Freshman outfielder Brenna Hinck hit a bases-clearing double, scoring Bartholf and Gaffin to cut the lead to 5-4. Senior outfielder Shelby Yung tied the game with a single to right that brought Hinck home.
DSU took the lead for good in the fifth when Paulson reached home after being hit by a pitch. Another run in the sixth was just enough cushion for the Trailblazers, as they beat WTAMU in consecutive games.
“Our bats came alive this weekend,” said Hartman, an integrated studies major from Mapleton. “We really came together as a team in the dugout and I think that helped us be consistent.”
DSU had never beaten WTAMU in school history. Already ranked and now with major wins on its resume, positive momentum has Simkins feeling “optimistic” about the potential this team has.
“Our energy really carried us through this tournament,” said Paulson, a business administration major from Fruita, Colorado. “We never got down, we continued to battle. We had a couple players out this weekend, but we all did a great job of stepping up doing [our job].”
At 12-2, DSU returns home to play No. 7 Adelphi University at Karl Brooks Field at 3 p.m.