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Henderson superb, Weber State softball run-rules Idaho State to open Big Sky tournament

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | May 11, 2022

ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics

Weber State pitcher Arissa Henderson winds up to pitch in a game against Utah Valley on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Ogden.

OGDEN — In the six-team, double-elimination tournament that is the Big Sky softball championship, the top two teams bye through opening-round action. A first-game loss for either top team sends them quickly to the one-loss side of the bracket and erases all advantages of that bye, while a win cuts the path down considerably.

Weber State senior Arissa Henderson made sure no fate befell the No. 1 Wildcats on Wednesday evening as the Wildcats suffered one year ago, keeping WSU on the short road to a tournament title.

Henderson pitched a six-hit shutout, running her record in the circle to 15-1 with a 1.96 ERA for the season, and walloped a grand slam in the second inning to lead Weber State to a 10-0 win over No. 5 Idaho State in five innings.

Idaho State got past No. 4 Northern Colorado 7-2 on Wednesday morning to open the tournament behind freshman of the year pitcher Haley Rainey. But Rainey found no such success her second time out.

After Henderson was a foot short of a homer in the first inning, flying out to the fence in left, Chloe Camarero immediately followed by sending one out the same way to put Weber State (36-10) ahead 2-0.

Henderson pitched around three baserunners in the first two innings, then capitalized on a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom of the second, slamming her ninth homer of the year in no-doubt fashion, immediately beginning her home-run trot off the bat. Her big swing put WSU up 7-0 and chased Rainey from the circle.

Weber State finished its scoring in the third when Emily Ruhl singled in Lauren Hoe, then Faith Hoe singled in two more.

The WSU defense backed up Henderson well, staying solid on several grounders to bring home the win. Henderson struck out four and walked one.

The Wildcats advance to the top-bracket semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday against No. 2 Sacramento State, who came on late to run-rule No. 6 Montana 12-4 in six innings. A win Thursday would give WSU a day off Friday, then two cracks at winning the title Saturday.

Montana claimed the tournament’s first upset in the opening round, topping No. 3 Portland State 5-4 in eight innings and handing PSU ace Olivia Grey a loss. That sends the Vikings to the long road of the one-loss bracket and makes it much less likely Grey alone is able to pitch PSU to a title like she did a year ago on the same field.

THURSDAY SCHEDULE

Noon — Elimination game: No. 3 PSU vs. No. 5 ISU

2:30 p.m. — Elimination game: No. 4 NoCo vs. No. 6 Montana

5 p.m. — Top bracket semifinals: No. 1 Weber State vs. No. 2 Sac State

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