Weber State softball loses close calls, takes lumps at prestigious HOF Classic
Weber State softball’s inclusion at the Oklahoma-hosted Hall of Fame Classic in Oklahoma City is an incredible moment in and of itself for the Big Sky program.
The Wildcats, however, would’ve liked to have left with at least one victory as their grueling, top-flight nonconference schedule began to wind down this weekend with a final in-season tournament.
The weekend ended Sunday with the cruelest decision of all as Weber State (6-20), with one out between it and a victory over No. 24 Northwestern — a 45-win team and College World Series participant last season — surrendered six two-out runs to fall 6-4 to the Big Ten’s purple Wildcats.
McKell McCuiston led off the contest with a homer, her second time doing so this week. Emily Ruhl drove in Faith Hoe with a sacrifice fly and, in the second, Gianna Memoli socked a solo home run. WSU made it 4-0 in the sixth when KC Whiting scored Lauren Hoe on a groundout.
Through six complete, WSU pitcher Mandy Johnson had allowed just three hits and struck out six. She got a groundout and a strikeout to get to two outs in the top of the seventh. With a runner on, Northwestern got another aboard via error and both scored on a double.
After a single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with the score 4-3, NU catcher Jordyn Rudd cleared them with a double to lift her team to a 6-4 win.
NU 4, WSU 0
WSU managed three hits in a shutout loss to No. 24 Northwestern on Saturday. Jayci Finch held NU to two runs over 4 1/3 innings; Madi Peterson took the loss allowing two runs in 1 2/3 innings as the starter.
OU 9, WSU 1
Weber State led No. 1 Oklahoma 1-0 into the third inning Friday on the strength of a McCuiston leadoff homer. Mika Chong nearly went yard in the third, driving a double high off the fence in center field.
Jayci Finch threw well through 2 2/3 innings, using location and speed to keep the defending champs off balance, but a two-run double and a two-run homer in consecutive at-bats opened the gates for OU in the bottom of the third.
AUBURN 4, WSU 2
No. 19 Auburn outlasted Weber State by taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning Friday on a bases-clearing double, with all three runs unearned.
WSU answered with two in the bottom of the second, with KC Whiting scoring on a throw to try to get a stealing Makayla Donahoo, and Tori Rey singling in Donahoo.
Mandy Johnson took the complete-game loss, which hit the 4-2 score on a solo homer in the seventh.
OU 16, WSU 0
Errors, passed balls and lost pop-ups in a swirling wind doomed Weber State in a blowout loss to the No. 1 Sooners, who finished the weekend with a 26-1 record, on Saturday.
Mika Chong managed WSU’s only hit of the contest. Chong hit 6 for 14 (.429) over the five games against the three ranked teams.
After five straight games against nationally ranked teams, WSU visits Utah Valley on Tuesday before a road doubleheader at No. 25 Utah on Saturday, March 25.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play their first home games with a three-game series March 31 and April 1 hosting Idaho State to start Big Sky play.