There is still some fight left in the Aggie softball team.
It hasn’t been the season Utah State had hoped for, but in the final homestand of the 2019 campaign the Aggies dug in and started it with a Mountain West win. Utah State got a solid effort in the circle from Kapri Toone and just enough timely hits to edge San Diego State Thursday at Johnson Field, 4-3.
“I joked at the beginning with this wind and both teams can hit, this could end up being a 30-29 game, old baseball,” Aggie head coach Steve Johnson said. “Sure enough, it ends up 4-3.”
With the bases loaded, one out and up a run, Toone enticed a ground ball to third baseman Erin Kuba, who fielded the ball and went home for the fielder’s choice out. The Aztecs (24-25, 11-11 MW) protested the ball was foul when it was fielded, but to no avail.
San Diego State’s Paige Barth came on to pinch hit. After working the count to 2-2, she fouled off three pitches, including one that the USU faithful questioned whether she really got a piece of it. They were hoping for a strikeout. Barth then hit a grounder to shortstop Lexi Orozco, who fielded it and went to second base for the final out.
“We just did a great job,” Johnson said. “Kapri (Toone) threw lights out and kept them off balance. She used the perfect pitching, using the wind and getting the ball to flutter a little more. We sure like to make it exciting there at the end.”
It shouldn’t have been that drama filled. With one out and a runner on, the Aztecs hit back-to-back ground balls to Orozco, who didn’t field them cleanly. The two errors loaded the bags and were the only ones of the game for USU (16-29, 5-16). However, Orozco ended the game on a good note.
Toone went the distance for the win, striking out five, walking four and allowing seven hits. The Aggies recorded six hits in the win.
Bailee Trapp had two of those USU base knocks and was key in both innings USU scored in.
“She was 3 for 4 at BYU (on Tuesday) and a 2 for 3 day today,” Johnson said of Trapp. “The last couple of games she has been really dialed in and aggressive at the plate.”
With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, Trapp recorded the first hit of the day for the Aggies — an error, hit by pitch and walk had juiced the bags. Trapp smacked an RBI single to right, scoring Stephanie Reed to break up the scoreless tie. Bailey Lewis brought Kenzie Bolin home to make it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly to deep left field. After drawing another walk, USU left the bases loaded.
“We had some quality at-bats,” Johnson said. “We get hit by a pitch, take a walk and get a sac fly.”
The Aztecs tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double from Molly Sturdivant.
Riley Plogger smashed a double to the gap in left center with one out in the fifth, but the Aggies weren’t able to do anything with her on base.
In the sixth, USU started hitting the ball. With one out, Trapp singled to left. Lewis followed with a double off the top of the fence in left. A two-run double by Kuba to the gap in left center would end up being the difference.
The Aztecs got a run in the seventh off a single, two errors and a RBI bloop single to right field by Taylor Adams. Then the Aggies shut the door on the rally.
Toone got out of several jams with the bases loaded as San Diego State stranded 10 base runners. The Aztecs left the bags full in the second and seventh frames.
“Our record is not where we want it to be, but we are motivated,” Johnson said. “The seniors have a couple of games left and we have 19 kids coming back. We have a lot of talent out there. We are playing for the love of the game.”
USU hosts San Diego State again on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s contest begins at 4 p.m., while the action on Saturday in the season finale will start at noon.