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  • Writer's pictureWeber State Weekly

SOFTBALL: 'Cats Split a Pair of Games in Sin City

(Photo courtesy of Weber State University)

By Joe Traub

So close to a perfect day.

Coming off a pair of tough defeats on Friday, the Weber State Wildcats softball team got some rest and came out raring to go for the second day of the 2021 UNLV Desert Classic in Las Vegas.

The ‘Cats handled California Baptist 6-1 on Saturday morning, then after a very long break, led host UNLV for most of the nightcap. However, the Rebels battled back from a late two-run deficit and handed Weber State an 4-2 defeat to drop the Wildcats to 1-3 for the weekend in the desert.

In the first ever meeting between the Wildcats and Lancers, CBU drew first blood with a run on three hits in the first inning off Kate Donaldson. However, Donaldson changed her fortunes, allowing just four knocks the rest of the way, winding up with the first complete game of the season for a Weber State hurler.

The Hoe sisters have been quite a dangerous duo in the middle of WSU’s lineup the last three seasons and Saturday was no different. In the third, Faith Hoe plated Noelle Foster with a game-tying single, then Lauren Hoe clubbed an opposite-field three-run homer, her second of the weekend after going deep against Utah on Friday. More from Lauren later.

Donaldson worked out of a crucial predicament in the sixth when the Lancers loaded the bases with two outs on a double, error and hit batter. The veteran was able to remain calm as she retired Mia Alvarez on a comebacker to leave three on. Weber State iced the game in the seventh when two more runs crossed the plate on a Cal Baptist miscue.

The Wildcats and Rebels were scheduled to begin their ballgame at 5:30 p.m. Vegas time Saturday, but the Utah Utes had other ideas. They and UNLV played an epic contest preceding Weber’s scheduled affair, with the Utes claiming a 14-12 victory despite the Rebels plating three in the bottom of the seventh.

Hoping to potentially catch a fatigued UNLV squad, everything went according to plan for Weber State in the first four frames. Starter Amanda Sink was locked in, allowing just one hit and a pair of walks to the first 15 batters.

The ‘Cats plated an unearned run in the first, then Lauren Hoe struck again. Her third home run of the weekend came in the fourth, a moonshot over the wall in left-center to make it a 2-0 ballgame in favor of the visitors from Ogden.

Weber State turned in consecutive defensive gems in the home fourth. Samantha Diaz hit a one-hop smash to the hot corner that knocked down Chloe Camarero, but she was somehow able to quickly rise back up and throw out Diaz. Faith Hoe then stuck with a tricky hop on a ball ripped towards the middle and retired Janyssa Martin to help Sink record a perfect frame.

What had already been a very solid day for Weber State athletics (if you add in the men’s basketball rout of Northern Arizona) ended on a bit of a sour note thanks to a fifth-inning rally by UNLV.

Alyssa Trejo led off with a double that fell in between outfielders Mia Rushton and Katelyn Whiting, then came the most damaging blow of the night. Rebels second baseman Justine Federe went opposite field for a game-tying, two-run homer. An out later, leadoff hitter Maddie Schmidt tripled to left field. This spelled the end of the start for Sink, and UNLV was able to plate another tally to take the lead after Mariah Ramirez took the circle.

Sink actually entered the game again, taking over for Ramirez in the sixth after a hit batter and walk started the inning. Pinch-runner Zoe Nolte scored an insurance run on a passed ball to extend the Rebels’ edge to 4-2 before the road seventh came with heavy drama.

Pinch-hitter Saree-Ann Kekuhana continued her hot start to the season with a single to start the inning, then Abigail Sagert doubled to right-center. This chased starter Charlie Masterson from the contest as Jenny Bressler replaced her in the circle.

‘Cats head coach Mary Kay Amicone countered with a move, sending up freshman Emily Ruhl to pinch-hit for Donahoo. Ruhl looked like a seasoned veteran, falling behind in the count before drawing a walk to load the bases. This passed the baton to another freshman pinch-hitter in Brooke Hatfield, who reached on a force out with Kekahuna out at home.

Bressler then fanned Foster before the matchup of the night against Camarero, who came through time and time again in the ‘Cats historic season two years ago. However, Camarero was jammed and grounded to first to end the game, as Weber State let a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity in the seventh slip by the boards.

The Wildcats will get right back after it in their finale of the UNLV Desert Classic with an 11 a.m. local time first pitch Sunday against Cal Baptist.

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