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Weber State softball opens season with 1 win, 2 heartbreaking losses

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Feb 11, 2024

Weber State softball opened the 2024 season with tons of new faces dotting the lineup for five games at a tournament in Phoenix, Arizona, hosted by Grand Canyon University.

Playing two Big Ten teams and the tournament hosts — a warm-weather private school flush with cash — the Wildcats went 1-4. WSU garnered a win over Maine, a run-rule loss each to Northwestern and Wisconsin, and one-run losses each to Northwestern (3-2) and GCU (6-5).

In a 10-5 win over Maine on Friday, Jayci Finch pitched a no-hitter through four innings and the Wildcats broke through at the plate with a six-run fourth. With the bases loaded, Sienna Solis walked, Makayla Donahoo singled, Taegan Smith took a hit-by-pitch, and first baseman Kiaira Smith cleared the bases with a double.

WSU made it 9-0 in the fifth with a double steal to score Sammy Gallegos, a Mia Rushton RBI single and a Donahoo RBI double.

The Wildcats woke up Saturday morning and led Northwestern 2-1 into the fifth inning after third baseman Abby Grundy socked a two-run homer in the second. Brooke Merrill, the Weber High alum who made her debut with WSU this week, held the other purple Wildcats to four hits through four innings but gave up a two-run homer Angela Zedak, which decided the game.

Cali McCraw, also making her WSU pitching debut, threw 1 2/3 perfect innings to close it, but WSU couldn’t find another run to extend the game.

WSU fell 6-5 to GCU in the second Saturday game. Finch and freshman Joslynn Veltien helped pitch to a 4-2 lead into the sixth when the Antelopes strung together four hits for four runs against Veltien.

Weber got a run back in the seventh when Taegan Smith singled home Donahoo and took second on the throw. Grundy drew a walk, but Taegan Smith was left on second base when Olivia Birkinshaw struck out to end the game.

WSU bookended the week with an 8-0 loss to Wisconsin to start the action Friday, and an 8-0 loss to Northwestern on Sunday morning. Mia Rushton had WSU’s only two hits in the Sunday loss.

Kiaira Smith, a freshman, hit 6 of 14 (.429) over the five games. Rushton finished 6 of 15 (.400) and Donahoo was 6 of 18 (.333).


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