by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Omni Recap
The Weber State Wildcats return from their – potentially – most tenacious tournament of the season in Oklahoma at the Omni Hall of Fame Classic. In their five games, WSU faced off against three top-25 NFCA teams, including the nation’s top team.
The Wildcats lost all five contests in Oklahoma City but showed the league they could go toe-to-toe with the best of them. With their five losses, Weber State’s losing streak reached six, and they dropped to 6-20 on the year.
As mentioned, the Omni Hall of Fame Classic provided WSU with their most brutal schedule of the year and likely the rest of the campaign. Weber State played #21 Auburn, #1 Oklahoma twice, and #24 Northwestern twice.
Friday, March 17
#21 Auburn at Weber State 4-2
The Wildcats started the weekend strong against the #19 Auburn Tigers in a tight battle. WSU kept the game within striking distance throughout the seven innings, but a shaky third inning put a dent in their efforts.
The Tigers struck first in the second inning. Lindsey Garcia started things with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a SAC bunt. Jessie Blaine reached on a throwing error to get runners on first and third. Kenadie Cooper substituted Blaine, stealing second base to give the Tigers two runners in scoring position, and a Makayla Packer walk would load the bases with one out. With two outs, Aspyn Godwin took care of the rest, taking the second pitch to center field for a bases-clearing double, scoring three unearned runs against Amanda Johnson.
The Wildcats wouldn’t let that go without a response, though. Katelyn Whiting reached second with a double with one out, and Mia Rushton advanced to third with a single. Makayla Donahoo reached on a fielder’s choice and applied the pressure on Auburn’s defense. She stole second, with Whiting scoring on a throwing error by the catcher. Victoria Rey would bring the game within one with a two-out single before the end of the inning.
The score remained at 3-2 for almost the rest of the game, with Auburn scoring an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Fortunately for the Tigers, they didn’t need the buffer as they finished off the Wildcats to secure the 4-2 victory. Despite a dazzling performance, Amanda Johnson was credited with the loss (5-8), pitching all seven innings and allowing one earned run, three hits, three walks, and striking out six.
Friday, March 17
Weber State at #1 Oklahoma 1-9
Given the #1 Oklahoma Sooner’s dominance this season, scoring any runs in the contest would have been a plus, so to drive in a run and be the game’s first run was impressive for Weber State. The run came on WSU’s first at-bat of the game, with McKell McCuistion sending a ball to right field on a 2-2 count. Unfortunately, that would be it for their offense in this game.
Jayci Finch (1-1) had a solid two innings before the Sooners took advantage. Oklahoma poured on four runs against Finch in the third inning. Brooke Hatfield came in to replace her in the fourth but got the same treatment as her teammate, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings. Madison Peterson would finish the shortened game, allowing one run in 0.1 innings. Despite the poor result, Weber State performed better than most teams against the best team in the nation.
Saturday, March 18
Weber State at #24 Northwestern 0-4
The bats couldn’t come alive for Weber State against the #24 Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats were limited to three hits in the contest, one from each Hoe twin and Chong. Peterson (0-5) got the opportunity to start after a brief stint the day before but got knocked out of the game early, allowing two runs – one unearned – two hits, two walks, and striking out one in 1.2 innings. Finch finished the latter 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Saturday, March 18
Weber State at #1 Oklahoma 0-16
This contest against Oklahoma was not as competitive as the first and was nearly over before it started. The Sooners’ offense rolled through WSU’s pitching staff, scoring nine runs in the first inning and piling it on in the shortened contest. Oklahoma scored 16 runs against the Wildcats, handing Amanda Johnson (5-9) the loss in the blowout affair.
Sunday, March 19
#24 Northwestern at Weber State 6-4
The Wildcats came out swinging in their final weekend contest but couldn’t get the job done against Northwestern. McCuistion started the party with her second leadoff home run of the weekend. A SAC fly from Emily Ruhl gave Weber State a 2-0 lead after the first, and a Gianna Memoli homer extended it to 3-0. WSU would tack on another run in the sixth to give them a healthy lead going into the final inning.
Northwestern had other plans than to lose, though. A late burst in the top of the seventh gave Amanda Johnson fits, but the fielding dismantled Weber State’s effort. With two outs, the Wildcats committed two fatal errors to supply Northwestern with all the leeway they needed for the come-from-behind victory. Johnson (5-10) was handed the loss despite a strong outing, and the Wildcats left the weekend winless.
It won’t be a tournament for the Wildcats next weekend, but they will face off against the Utah Utes twice on Saturday.
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