ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State softball team took a step backward in its first outing after moving up eight spots in national rankings to No. 12. The Trailblazers split with lower-tier Dominican Tuesday night. After taking game one 14-9, DSU fell in the nightcap 6-5.
GAME ONE – DSU 14, DU 9
In a rarity, DSU starting ace Brooklyn Beardshear was pulled before the first inning ended. By that time, the Penguins had put up three runs, all unearned. DSU coach Randy Simkins pulled Beardshear after two consecutive batters reached after being hit by pitch. Madi Dove entered the game to get the final out of the inning.
It did not take the Blazers long to respond. In the bottom of the first, they scored six runs as five different players got RBIs. DSU batted around and before the final out, had doubled Dominican’s score, 6-3.
Defensively in the third, left fielder Shelby Yung fielded a single and threw out the baserunner that tried to score from second.
“I don’t know why they sent her,” said Yung. “I was in her back pocket. It was not a difficult throw.”
Dixie State added a run in the third when Kenzie Sawyer knocked in Mallory Paulson for her second RBI of the game. In the next inning, the Blazers added five more. They batted around again. Paulson and Janessa Bassett both had two-run singles in the inning. Bassett’s RBIs put the score at 12-3.
DSU needed only three outs to end the game by mercy rule, but Dominican would not go away. The Penguins responded with two runs in the top of the fifth to escape the mercy-rule loss and survive another inning. The Penguins got two more in the next inning to pull to 12-7.
Bailey Gaffin and Jessica Gonzalez hit consecutive singles in the bottom of the sixth to drive in two more runs for Dixie State. A fielding error by Dixie State allowed the Penguins to tack on two more in the final inning.
Dove got the win (3-0), pitching four-plus innings, striking out three and allowing four runs. Offensively, Paulson led the way with three hits. Bassett and Gaffin also hit safely twice.
GAME TWO – DU 6, DSU 5
In the nightcap, neither team could get on the board before the third inning. The Penguins struck first in the top with one run. In the bottom of the inning, Arista Honey’s two-run shot to left field capped a three-run inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Penguins exploded offensively. After four straight batters hit or walked to score a run, Simkins pulled starter Alex Melendez and brought in reliever Alexis Barkwell. A fielding error and a single brought home four more runs and Dominican held a 6-3 lead.
“We had one bad inning,” said Simkins. “But against good pitching, that is all it takes. We were happy with the way the girls fought back. And after that inning, Alexis (Barkwell) closed out the game with great pitching. Riley Tyteca came up big with the home run and we had chances to tie or retake the lead later in the game.”
Dixie State got two back in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run shot by Tyteca. But the Blazers were unable to plate any more runs and took the loss, 6-5.
Dominican pitcher Katelyn Harden got the win to go 6-1 on the year. Melendez got the loss (6-3). Offensively, no Blazer batter had multiple hits as the team mustered seven hits in 19 at-bats.
“(Harden) is a good pitcher,” said Bassett. “She was not throwing anything special, but I was having trouble getting my timing down and finding a pitch that I wanted to hit.”
The split moves Dixie State to 19-4 on the year and 5-1 in the PacWest. Dominican moves to 6-10 overall and 5-3 in the PacWest. The Blazers will now head to Hawaii for 10 games against the four Hawaii schools in the conference. Their first game will be against UH-Hilo on Sunday at noon Hawaii Time.
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