Softball wins 4 games in row against NNU, MSUB

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Dixie State University’s offense was clicking in its first four games of the season.

The softball team defeated Northwest Nazarene University twice Thursday before capturing two wins against Montana State University Billings Monday.

The first game against NNU saw the Trailblazers push across six runs in the first inning. Senior shortstop Josey Hartman drove in DSU’s first run on a single to left field. Two more singles and two sacrifice flies gave DSU the lead, 6-0.

The Trailblazers followed that up by putting up five more runs in the fourth inning behind a grand slam from sophomore third baseman Dani Bartholf. Sophomore second baseman Bailey Gaffin gave DSU its final run on an RBI single to left field.

DSU ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth inning, winning 11-1.

“We have to be better at getting timely hits,” head coach Randy Simkins said. “We got some timely hits later in the game but we have to be better.” 

Game two carried on where game one left off. Senior shortstop Josey Hartman and sophomore catcher Jessica Gonzalez each belted two-run homers in the first inning giving the Trailblazers a 4-1 lead.

Two errors aided DSU in the fourth inning. The Trailblazers plated four runs, all of which were unearned. They held an 8-1 advantage going into the fifth inning. The Crusaders added one run in the top of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as DSU coasted to an 8-2 victory.

Junior outfielder Janessa Bassett led the Trailblazers offense going 4-6 between the two games from the lead-off spot. DSU combined for 18 hits as a team in its first two games of the year.

Following the wins, DSU hosted MSUB Monday. For the third game in a row, the Trailblazers’ offense wasted no time and scored multiple runs in the first inning. Two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for senior designated player, Arista Honey.

On the second pitch of the at bat, Honey blasted a grand slam to left field giving DSU an early lead, 4-0. MSUB responded with a run in the top of the second.

“I was expecting something low,” said Honey, a finance major from Bothell, Washington. “It was just one of those feelings, when it came off the bat.

Gonzalez smacked a solo home run of her own in the fifth inning. DSU continued scoring runs in the sixth after senior first baseman Mallory Paulson singled to right field with the bases loaded, scoring two runs. 

A sacrifice fly by Gonzalez pushed across the final run for the Trailblazers and they earned their third win of the season, 8-2.

The second game held much of the same for the Trailblazers. Each team scored a run in the first inning before the Yellowjackets plated four runs in the top of the third.

“The energy in these two games was so great,” Honey said. “We were able to rotate some players in that might not see a lot of time this season. We did a great job supporting each other.”

Down 5-1, DSU sent 15 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third and scored 11 runs. 

“Their pitcher was throwing well,” Simkins said. “It took us some time to make the adjustment to her, but we were able to string some runners on.”

For the third time in four games, the DSU rally was highlighted by a grand slam, this one from Gaffin.

“They had been pitching me inside,” said Gaffin, a general studies major from Glendale, Arizona. “I was expecting an inside pitch and I turned on it and swung through. I knew it was gone when I hit it.”

The Trailblazers added one more run in the fourth inning before earning the victory, 13-5.

“It felt good to rally as a team like that,” Gaffin said. “I felt like we were a little dead at first, but that rally got us pumped up.”

Bassett went 3-4, drove home two RBIs and scored two runs while Gaffin and Honey each recorded two hits in the win.

DSU is 4-0 on the young season and will host the Dixie State Easton Classic tournament this weekend. The Trailblazers first game will be played Thursday at 3 p.m. at Snow Canyon High School’s softball complex against Colorado State University-Pueblo.