SOFTBALL: 'Cats Clipped by Utes, Rebels in Desert
(Photo taken by Weber State University)
By Joe Traub
For a second straight Friday evening, the Weber State softball team will go to sleep looking to flush memories from the opening day of a tournament in the sun, and instead look to brighter times in the weekend ahead of them.
Participating as one of four teams in the UNLV Desert Classic, the Wildcats dropped both of their contests on Friday - a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Utah Utes in the morning, then a 5-0 blanking at the hands of the host Rebels in a late-afternoon affair.
If the ‘Cats were sleepy from an early wakeup call to head to Eller Media Softball Stadium, they did not initially show it. Weber State led Utah 3-1 after five innings thanks to strong work from the battery. Starting pitcher Kate Donaldson limited the Utes to one earned run in 5.2 frames of work and catcher Lauren Hoe supplied the power, launching a two-run homer in the second to give her team a 2-1 advantage.
Hoe came through again in the fifth inning with a single to plate Noelle Foster, who finished with a 4-for-4 morning. However, things came undone for the Wildcats in the final two frames.
Madi Jacobus brought Utah within 3-2 on a long ball in the sixth, then the Utes pulled out a last at-bat stunner in the seventh. Mariah Ramirez was one out away from closing a Wildcats victory with a runner on second base. But Alyssa Barrera brought home Haley Denning with a game-tying RBI single, then Ellessa Bonstrom singled in Barrera to give Utah a 4-3 lead and leave Weber State in shock. The ‘Cats could only manage a two-out single off the bat of Foster in the home seventh as Hoe flied out to end the contest.
After a break of several hours, Weber State returned to the field and first pitch against UNLV came at 4:15 p.m. local time. Ramirez got the starting nod and pitched well, ending up with four innings of two-hit, one-run ball. It was the fifth that was the undoing as the Rebels scored four times, highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of Denise Armendariz.
Two early missed chances stung the Wildcats in Friday’s nightcap, with the second inning proving especially tough. Chloe Camarero and Faith Hoe started the frame with singles, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Rebels starter Jenny Bressler buckled down and induced a pair of foul outs sandwiched around a strikeout to escape the jam.
Trailing just 1-0, Weber State put two runners aboard with two outs in the fifth, but Katelyn Whiting grounded out to end the ‘Cats last best chance to prevail against the Rebels.
Despite being swept on Friday, there was reason for optimism as Camarero made her season debut after missing last weekend’s opening contests. The third baseman went a combined 1-for-7 with a run scored, but has been a steady presence in the middle of the Wildcats order the last two seasons and should once again be counted on in big spots during conference play.
It will be a quick turnaround for the ‘Cats as they hit the field against California Baptist at 11 a.m. MT on Saturday. The game marks the first ever matchup between the Wildcats and Lancers, who defeated Utah 5-3 Friday.
Weber State will also battle UNLV once again in Saturday’s nightcap, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. MT.