OGDEN — Whatever softball remains for Weber State, Chloe Camarero gave home fans a lasting image of the season on a beautiful spring afternoon Saturday at Wildcat Softball Field:
The ball disappearing over the fence.
The sophomore third baseman parked an 0-1 pitch over the left-center wall to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, giving WSU a 2-1, walk-off win and capping a three-game sweep of visiting Montana to complete Weber State’s home schedule.
It seemed Camarero was due. She stepped to the plate 0 for 3 with one strikeout on the day but, in her previous at-bat in the fifth, crushed a deep foul to left before lining out hard to the right fielder.
“I was pretty calm because it was like my fourth time seeing that pitcher for the day,” she said. “I was struggling in some of my other at-bats but ... I was just really confident going in there.”
Not only did the Wildcats (20-18) become the first to clinch a berth in the Big Sky Conference tournament but now, at 12-1 in league play, are two games away from winning the regular-season title, this year’s tournament 1-seed and hosting rights to next season’s tournament.
Sadie Blacker — one of the team’s three seniors who were celebrated with a customary cap-and-gown walk on the field after the game — said it’s a team bond that creates opportunities for the Wildcats to get it done game after game.
“We’re not only gritty but we play for each other,” Blacker said. “We just love each other and you can tell that every at-bat when someone is out there, they’re doing it for their teammates.”
Blacker drove in WSU’s only regulation run Saturday, rocketing a sharp grounder to shortstop that was too hot for UM’s Maygen McGrath to handle. That drove in Ashlyn Visser for a 1-0 lead.
Tatiana Su’esu’e threw six innings and held off Montana until the sixth when the Griz pushed across an unearned run to tie it.
Addie Jensen threw the final two innings for the win. Su’esu’e and Jensen joined Blacker as the seniors recognized after the game.
WSU has a week off in conference play and will play road games at Utah (April 23) and Utah Valley (April 30) before ending its Big Sky schedule with a three-game series at Portland State (May 3-4). The conference tournament is May 8-11 at Sacramento State.
Weber is two games ahead of second-place Sacramento State (27-18, 8-3 Big Sky) and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Hornets have six conference games remaining. Any combination of WSU wins or Sac State losses equaling two ensures the Wildcats win the conference.
“You can feel our energy out in the field,” Camarero said. “Every game we go in calm and confident ... it’s not so much that we’re cocky, we’re just confident in each other and genuinely happy for each other when we do great things out there. It’s a circulation of great energy out there, and a love for the game and each other.”
GAME 1: CAMARERO GETS WEBER GOING
Chloe Camarero’s walk-off winner Saturday was the cap of a big week for her at the plate. The third baseman hit a solo home run in the first inning and an RBI triple in the third to help Weber State to a 5-0 shutout to start the series Friday.
Faith Hoe doubled later in the third to score Camarero. Sadie Blacker singled in the sixth to score Courtney Pestka, then appeared to get purposely hung-up between first and second, allowing Takesha Saltern to sprint home to conclude the scoring.
Tatiana Su’esu’e made her first appearance in two weeks after resting an injury, throwing four scoreless innings and giving up two hits in her start to pick up the win. Addie Jensen allowed only one baserunner — a hit batter — in three innings for the save.
GAME 2: VISSER HEATS UP IN WIN
First baseman Ashlyn Visser took the early run-producing mantle from Camarero in Friday’s second game to get the Wildcats ahead in a 5-2 victory.
Visser singled to score Takesha Saltern in the first for a 1-0 lead.
After a Cami Sellers two-run homer in the top of the third briefly put Montana up 2-1, Visser doubled in the bottom of the frame to score Saltern and Chloe Camarero for a 3-2 lead.
Lauren Hoe also hit a sacrifice fly to score Katelyn Whiting in the frame. In the fourth, Landi Hawker legged out an infield single while Saltern scored from second on an error charged to the pitcher for WSU’s final run.
Addie Jensen picked up the win in the circle, throwing five innings and allowing two earned runs in her start. Kate Donaldson threw two hitless, scoreless innings for the save.
After Friday, Saltern led the Big Sky in batting average (.421), on-base percentage (.496) and stolen bases (16), and was second in runs scored (32).
Friday’s second win pushed WSU to 19-18 overall, moving the Wildcats over .500 for the first time this season.