Dixie State softball dodges weather, defeats SUU

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, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State Softball reversed a recent trend Wednesday night as they knocked off Division I Southern Utah University 5-4 at Karl Brooks Field. While still leading in the all-time series 16-9, the last few years have gone the Thunderbirds’ way.

“They always have a good team and this year is no different,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “We recruit a lot of the same girls. We are familiar with their players and they are familiar with ours.”

The Blazers jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Kenzie Sawyer, a Canyon View alum, singled in Bailey Gaffin in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 through the first five innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Gaffin hit a two-run single to score Josey Hartman and Brenna Hinck. Later in the inning, Jessica Gonzalez got her 10th homer of the year over the center field fence to score two more.

Dixie State’s Jessica Gonzalez (12), Dixie State University vs. Southern Utah University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“(The SUU pitcher) was trying to jam me,” said Gonzalez. “I love inside pitches. She did it twice. I was not going to let a third one go by me.”

The wind was strong and carried a lot of hits further than expected. “We knew it was not going to be a 1-0 game,” said Simkins.

“I did not think mine was out,” said Gonzalez. “I can usually tell. I hit it hard, but I thought it would be a base hit. The wind helped me out there.”

Dixie State’s Alexis Barkwell (25), Dixie State University vs. Southern Utah University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Mar. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

That same wind may have worked against Dixie State in the later innings. Cedar alum Javlyn Weaver and Karlee Manzione both hit two-run shots in the later innings to draw the score close. SUU then got the tying run aboard after the second home run with two outs in the seventh. But winning pitcher Alexis Barkwell got the last batter to pop up to Hartman to end the game.

Barkwell (5-1) got the win, pitching the entire game. She allowed four runs on 10 hits, walking three and striking out one. “Alexis pitched well on our Hawaii trip,” said Simkins. “She pitched well today.”

Dixie State improves to 27-7 overall with the non-conference win. The Blazers are tied for third in the PacWest Conference standings at 12-4 with Concordia. They sit behind Cal Baptist and Azusa Pacific. The Trailblazers will play two doubleheaders against Azusa Pacific this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s games start at 3 p.m. Southern Utah drops to 4-16.

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

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