by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Utah Tech Recap
The Weber State Wildcats took a trip to St. George to partake in the Utah Tech Tournament this past weekend. The four-game trip was back-and-forth for the Wildcats, but they showed signs of greatness against a couple of competitive rosters.
Weber State jumps to 5-9 in non-conference play, going an even 2-2 on the weekend. The highlight of the trip was their hitting which was seldom stopped throughout the tournament, with players like McKell McCuistion and Lauren Hoe continuing to shine.
The four-day trip for the Wildcats consisted of two matchups against the Saint Louis Billikens and the Utah Tech Trailblazers. Weber State made noise in their first tournament away from nationally-ranked opponents, giving their fans a taste of the potential of their explosive offense.
Saturday, February 25
Weber State at Saint Louis 12-4
The Wildcats came out swinging in their first match of the Utah Tech Tournament, crushing the Billikens 12-4. WSU didn’t take long to do some damage, tacking on four runs in the second inning against Chloe Wendling. Gianna Memoli started the party by scoring Riley Whlaen on a single down the right-field line. McCuistion flashed her bat early, driving in Memoli home on a single to center field, and Lauren Hoe proved how potent the middle of this batting order could be with a two-run double.
Amanda Johnson had another dominant – but short – outing. In 2.1 innings, she allowed one run on three hits, allowing three walks and earning the win (4-3). Her lone run was credited after leaving runners on first and second with Jayci Finch stepping to the mound. Finch gave up a one-out single to left field that drove in Natalie Sullivan before getting out of the inning.
Another fifth-inning rally gave Weber State a 7-1 lead thanks to the bats of Emily Ruhl, Mia Rushton, and Memoli, but Saint Louis would respond with a three-run inning in the sixth to cut the deficit back to three. The inning was highlighted by a Jocelyn Abbott two-run homer that was scored as unearned runs from an early-inning error.
The Wildcats decided three runs wasn’t big enough of a lead, piling on another five in the seventh inning. A five-run inning sounds like Weber State was crushing the ball, but they were having a field day with walks, forcing three runs in from base on balls. Finch closed the game with a one-hit, no-run bottom of the inning.
Utah Tech at Weber State 16-5
Weber State’s luck would run out in their second contest of the afternoon, getting dominated by the Trailblazers. It was a quiet first two innings, everyone patiently waiting for any team to jump out with the edge before Utah Tech grabbed two runs in the third. Brooke Hatfield was credited with the loss (0-3) after allowing the two runs, walking six, and striking out three, only giving up one hit in the outing. The Trailblazers would drive in two more in the fourth from walking with the bases loaded. Madison Peterson scored with one earned run with an error kicking off the inning.
The Wildcats would turn to Amanda Johnson in the fifth to control the damage of their 4-0 deficit, but the outing didn’t go how they would have hoped. Over two innings, Johnson allowed 12 runs on 12 hits and two walks. Four RBI singles and a three-run double would give Utah Tech an 11-0 lead, all but sealing the victory for the Trailblazers. A four-run fifth gave Weber State some hope of a miracle, but a sixth-inning grand slam from Utah Tech’s Lauren Almeida quieted any hope of a comeback.
Sunday, February 26
Saint Louis at Weber State 1-7
Weber State’s bats were alive early again against Saint Louis. A Sarah Ruhl solo shot got the Wildcats started early in the second inning. Makayla Donahoo supplied another run in the inning with a center-field single, driving home Rushton. Saint Louis responded in the third on a Sullivan triple off of Johnson, but it was all Weber State after that. WSU came back with a three-run third, Mika Chong scoring McCuistion on a single with no outs. Sarah Ruhl continued her impressive night with a two-run single to center. Two more Wildcats would score from a sixth-inning error to cap off the contest.
Amanda Johnson got back on the right track against Saint Louis, pitching the complete game and snagging the win (5-3). She gave up three hits and two walks, and the only Billikens run was unearned.
Weber State at Utah Tech 5-6
The Wildcats looked to grab revenge against the Trailblazers in their second outing against the hosting team. A first-inning Lauren Hoe single scored Chong, giving Weber State the 1-0 lead to kick things off, but Utah Tech was determined to respond. Carly Eldredge doubled to left center to knot things up at 1-1. Rushton took advantage of a second-inning error, scoring on a throwing error from Rachel Campbell. Utah Tech’s catcher made up for that mistake, though, driving in a run on a third-inning single.
At 2-2, it looked like anyone’s game. The Trailblazers grabbed their first lead from a Hannah Hughbanks two-run homer in the fourth, but the lead didn’t last long. Lauren Hoe brought WSU back with a two-run homer of her own in the following inning, her fourth of the year and 26th of her career. The back-and-forth contest continued into the seventh, tied at five all. An early rally against Hatfield got the Trailblazers runners at first and second. Weber State managed to get a couple of fielder’s choices to get to two outs in the inning and a chance to get out of the rut, but Utah Tech needed to take advantage with runners at second and third. Step in Lauren Almeida. The Trailblazers’ shortstop called the game on a single to left center, sending the Wildcats home with the loss.
Next for the 5-9 Wildcats, they head to Tucson, AZ to participate in the Hillenbrand Invitational for a five-game circuit.
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