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NCAA softball: After early missed opportunity, Weber State falls to Texas 6-0

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | May 20, 2022
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Weber State second baseman Faith Hoe makes a play to first base in an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State outfielder Chloe Camarero bats in an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State second baseman Faith Hoe connects for a hit in an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State softball head coach Mary Kay Amicone, front, and pitching coach Kevin Jensen stand for the national anthem prior to an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State softball head coach Mary Kay Amicone answers questions after losing an NCAA Tournament regional game to Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State catcher Lauren Hoe receives a pitch during an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State's Arissa Henderson throws a pitch in an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State softball head coach Mary Kay Amicone, center, speaks with players during an NCAA Tournament regional game against Texas on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State's Arissa Henderson reaches out to hit a pitch against Texas in an NCAA Tournament regional game Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
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Weber State's Faith Hoe claps at second base after hitting a double against Texas in an NCAA Tournament regional game Friday, May 20, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)

Faith Hoe began Weber State softball’s NCAA Tournament regional opener against Texas with a crafty at-bat.

Patiently working the count full, Hoe took the next pitch deep to centerfield, where it caromed off the base of the wall for a leadoff double.

Arissa Henderson followed with a poke single to center, which normally would have scored a run but the carry of the ball made Hoe pause just a second at second base, which resulted in her taking third.

Complete with an early mound visit, it seemed Texas’ decision to throw Estelle Czech instead of ace Hailey Dolcini might be backfiring.

But Chloe Camarero popped up to second base and McKell McCuiston grounded into an inning-ending double play, and the Longhorns went on to blank the Wildcats 6-0 on Friday in the Seattle regional hosted by the University of Washington.

“They were ready. A couple of key hits either way and that first inning goes differently,” WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “But we started out doing what we do, and that’s putting the ball in play. We just didn’t come up with that timely hit.”

After starting the game 2 for 2 at the plate, the Wildcats (38-11) hit only 3 for 22 the rest of the way.

The margin remained thin through three innings as Arissa Henderson held Texas (39-17) in check. Lead RBI hitter Mary Iakopo punched a single through the middle to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

“They … put the ball in play hard up the middle, and they’re a really balanced team. They can run, they can hit for power, and the pitcher pitched really well,” Amicone said. “We got off to a good start but they shut that down. It was impressive just the way they passed the bat along and did little things.”

Henderson got two quick outs in the second before Alyssa Popelka singled. Janae Jefferson poked a single to right field that put runners on second and third, and the speedy Mia Scott looped a single to left field just over the reach of WSU shortstop Makalya Donahoo to score two runs for a 3-0 lead.

WSU squandered a one-out walk in the third when Mia Rushton tried to take second on a flyout to right field, but Henderson sat Texas in order in the bottom half with three routine groundouts.

Henderson led off the fourth with a single and pinch-runner Marissa Cerda took second on a passed ball, but McCuiston and Lauren Hoe struck out swinging to end the threat.

Czech struck out six and walked one in her five-hit shutout, throwing 99 pitches.

Another thin margin led to a knockout inning for Texas, sending Henderson to the bench in the fourth.

Texas right fielder Jordyn Whitaker led off the inning by driving a ball to the wall in centerfield. A leaping Rushton got her glove on it, but not enough to snare it. Though Rushton eventually dove and caught the ball, Whitaker had a double because the ball had hit off the top of the outfield wall after tipping Rushton’s glove.

An RBI groundout to score Whitaker made it 4-0 but, with two outs, it seemed the Wildcats could hang in there. That’s when Jefferson smashed a homer to right-center. Scott followed with an infield single, then used her speed on an RBI double from McKenzie Parker to make it 6-0.

Henderson took just her second loss of the season, giving up six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking one.

Mariah Ramirez allowed four hits in 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings, striking out three and walking two while allowing four hits.

Faith Hoe hit her second double of the game in the sixth for Weber State, dropping a spinning floater into shallow left field that tipped off the glove of diving shortstop Alyssa Washington. Faith Hoe and Henderson each hit 2 for 3.

“I was able to stay on top of the ball. I got a pitch I could hit, and then I got lucky that third one that dropped,” Faith Hoe said.

She was left stranded, however, when Henderson popped out and Camarero flew out to centerfield.

Pinch-hitting Mika Chong recorded WSU’s final hit in the seventh, a one-out single to right field.

Weber State moves to the elimination side of the bracket to face Lehigh, who lost 9-2 to Washington after taking a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning. WSU-Lehigh is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. MT Saturday and should stream on ESPN+. If WSU were to win, it would play again in a game late Saturday night.

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