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Weber State softball loses extra-inning heartbreaker, then finishes 5th

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Apr 28, 2024

After bad weather caused a large disparity in completed games across the Big Sky Conference, Weber State softball entered the weekend with a shot at the regular-season championship or a chance at finishing as low as fifth place.

Darkness and more poor weather made that drama last into Sunday and in the end, the Wildcats faltered twice to drop to the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Big Sky Conference tournament hosted by Idaho State.

Weber State (20-26, 8-7 Big Sky) will open the double-elimination conference tournament on Wednesday, May 8, with a 9 a.m. matchup against No. 4 Portland State (19-22, 8-6). PSU took the regular-season season series 2-1. The winner of WSU-PSU faces Northern Colorado at 2 p.m. that day.

Northern Colorado (24-23, 9-5) is the regular-season champion and No. 2 Idaho State (25-24, 7-4) joins them in earning a first-round bye.

No. 3 Sacramento State (26-18, 7-4) faces No. 6 Montana (17-31, 1-14) in the other first-round matchup.

WSU 6, ISU 4

Weber State got the winning plays it needed to open the series Friday afternoon. In a game totaling five home runs, WSU got the final two: Abby Grundy and Olivia Birkinshaw each hit solo shots in the top of the seventh to turn a deficit into a 6-4 victory.

Brooke Hatfield got the win, allowing pitching around 10 walks by allowing five hits and striking out two in 6 2/3 innings.

ISU 7, WSU 6 (10)

WSU saw a 6-2 lead eventually turn into a 10-inning defeat in a game that was tied 6-6 through eight innings and suspended due to darkness Friday night, postponed (along with Game 3) from Saturday to Sunday due to bad weather, and completed Sunday afternoon — ending WSU’s bid for the conference title and delivering the crown to Northern Colorado.

Grundy homered and doubled through five innings to put WSU ahead 6-2. ISU got it to 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth with two homers. In the seventh, Belle Navarrete doubled in the tying run — the only run Brooke Merrill allowed in three relief innings — but Merrill induced a pop-out to leave the potential winning run on second and take the game to extras.

Weber State got a runner to second base with one out or less in all three extra innings but failed to drive in a run.

In the 10th, Brooke Hatfield issued a leadoff walk to Gracie Smith. Later, with the bases loaded, Hatfield got Ava Brown to pop out and fought back to a full count against Kennedy Dudley before hitting Dudley in the left upper arm to push Smith across for the winning run.

ISU 8, WSU 0

Potentially deflated by the 10-inning loss, Weber State managed just three hits in Sunday’s series finale in a five-inning, run-rule loss that lifted the Bengals to second place and dropped WSU from third to fifth.

Makayla Donahoo hit 2 for 2 to lead WSU at the plate.


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