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Amicone crosses 800 career coaching wins, Weber State softball sweeps Montana

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Mar 31, 2024
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Weber State softball coach Mary Kay Amicone, left, gestures to the dugout during a win against Montana on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Ogden.
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Cali McCraw, center top, celebrates with Weber State teammates during a softball win against Montana on Friday, March 29, 2024, in Ogden.
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Weber State's Brooke Merrill throws a pitch against Montana on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Ogden.
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Weber State softball coach Mary Kay Amicone claps during a game against Montana on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Ogden.

OGDEN — After a home series against Montana to begin Big Sky Conference play, Mary Kay Amicone now sits at 801 career college softball coaching wins.

Fitting, to match Utah’s original and predominant area code, as Amicone is one of the state’s most legendary ball coaches.

Weber State’s young squad put together three wins in three ways to sweep Montana, starting Big Sky competition at 3-0 in Amicone’s final campaign before retirement.

“It’s an honor,” Amicone said of reaching 800 wins. “It’s a privilege to, all these years, I’ve had coaches and players and I appreciate that I’m nothing without this group, including this staff. The players all along the way have made my life such a pleasure.

“It’s pretty tender to me to know that these lives have been with me for a long time. It’s an honor to coach.”

Not counting a stint as head baseball coach at Jordan High School, Amicone’s career softball total comes from stints at BYU, Salt Lake Community College and her last 11 seasons at Weber State; she’s won conference championships in all three places.

The Wildcats needed to hold off Montana in a sloppy Game 1, got a pitching and fielding gem in Game 2, and used the bats to get a five-inning win in Game 3.

“They’ve bought in from the beginning,” Amicone said. “They’re learning, they love each other, they play hard for each other … they give it full effort, one pitch at a time. Sometimes it gets a little exciting but they find ways to do it.”

Weber State (15-16, 3-0 Big Sky) next travels to Portland State (14-16, 3-0) for three games April 5-6. The Vikings swept Idaho State on the road and are 9-0 at home this season.


The lead changed hands three times in the series opener Friday, but it was a frame where no runs scored that largely decided the game.

Holding a 6-3 lead, Brooke Hatfield took over in the circle for Brooke Merrill and quickly issued two walks and surrendered a hit. But with the bases loaded, Hatfield stuck out a batter, got a groundout to third for an out at the plate, and struck out another Montana batter to pitch out of the jam.

WSU barely escaped in the sixth. Hatfield allowed a leadoff double and then walked three to make it 6-4. Merrill re-entered, got an out at the plate, then walked another to make it 6-5. But Merrill induced another out at the plate and a final groundout to leave Montana with the bases loaded again.

Senior Mia Rushton hit 3 for 3 and scored two runs from the leadoff spot. Kiaira Smith and Makayla Donahoo each hit RBI doubles.


As sloppy as the opener felt (WSU pitchers walked 10 batters), Cali McCraw had other ideas in Friday’s nightcap to deliver Amicone win No. 800: a complete-game, two-hit shutout.

McCraw struck out two, walked two and faced two over the minimum thanks to two sharply fielded double plays, got a few more diving outs to back her up, and made an early 2-0 lead stand up.

“Our pitching and defense was exceptional. The double play turns were just momentum killers, and just being where you need to be,” Amicone said. “Defense, situational hitting … that was a pretty incredible way to do it, for sure.”

Mia Rushton scored on a bunt from junior Abby Grundy in the first inning and sophomore Taegan Smith singled Grundy home in the third to account for the scoring.


A game that started in the Saturday afternoon sun ended with WSU trying to end it early with rain pouring for the final two frames.

Freshman Kiaira Smith’s lefty swing socked the ball over the right-field fence to induce the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth to get the teams out of the rain and clinch the series sweep.

Junior catcher Eva Richardson blasted a no-doubt, two-run homer to left in the first and an RBI double in the second. Abby Grundy added an RBI triple and scored on a Sarah Ruhl single to get the Wildcats up 6-0 after two.

Makayla Donahoo hit a two-run dinger in the fourth as part of a frame that put Weber up 11-1, giving both she and Richardson three RBIs for the game. Jayci Finch earned the win in the circle, allowing one run on four hits over four innings.

Brooke Merrill ran into trouble to open the fifth, allowing three runs on three hits. Cali McCraw pitched out of it from there, with the 11-4 score requiring one more WSU run to end the game in five; Smith obliged.


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