The USU Eastern Eagles softball team went 6-2 over the past two weekends. Their matchup against the Snow College Badgers featured a momentous achievem ent for the squad, as it split the series April 5-6, the first such outcome since Eagles’ inaugural season in 2016.
The games against the Badgers marked the second series of the year, with the Eagles losing it 3-0 earlier this season in St. George.
“We are progressing each week and that is what we have to do with the way our season is set up. This team is learning to [be] relentless. These close games are preparing us for the future,” said USU Eastern Head Coach Ryan Smith.
In game one, he Eagles defeated the Badgers 3-2 on April 5.
Led by pitcher Carly Levy, the Eagles did not allow a run to cross home until the bottom of the sixth.
Levy earned the win after pitching seven innings, with four strikeouts and only two runs and five hits against.
The go-ahead score came off the bat of sophomore McKenna Gubanich who hit an RBI double to right field at the top of the sixth.
In game two, the Eagles fell 7-6 to the Badgers.
The Eagles struggled in the first three innings of the game, trailing 5-1 to Snow.
“We are still struggling to adjust and to control our game. When we control our approach we will control our destiny,” Smith said.
In the top of the fourth, the Eagles added four runs to the tie the game at five.
Gubanich and Avery Blackhurst added an RBI single in the fourth to help lead the comeback.
Trailing 6-5 in the top of the seventh, an error by Snow allowed Riley Stookey to cross home plate, tying the game at six.
In the bottom of the seventh, Snow’s Alvyia Woosley’s ground out with bases loaded brought home the game-winning run to tie the series at one.
On April 6, the Eagles defeated the Badgers 15-9 in game three.
Snow tied the game up at 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the Eagles’ bats came alive as they added nine runs including a grand slam from sophomore Jaiden Smith.
“Everyone kept finding ways to get on base and we were able to get one across,” said Smith.
“There is nothing like batting around the line up in extra innings.”
Freshman Alicia Cruz added a triple with bases loaded in the inning to put the game out of reach.
After the Eagles extra inning win over the Badgers, they concluded the series with a 9-1 game four loss.
The lone run of the game for the Eagles came in the top of the fifth when an RBI single by Levy brought home Rilee Stookey.
Levy had three hits in game four and seven hits overall in the series.
Gubanich also had a great weekend at the plate for the Eagles with six hits, three doubles and three RBIs.
Stookey, Smith, and Cruz each led the Eagles in RBIs with four.
“These players and most of the others are buying into playing for a team. They are getting it done when they need to and are being good leaders on and off the field,” Smith said.
Eastern sweeps CNCC
The weekend of April 12-13, the Eagles swept the Colorado Northwestern Spartans in their four-game series at home.
The Eagles defeated the Spartans 10-2 in game one and 13-5 in game two on Friday, both games ended in six innings.
On Saturday the Eagles defeated CNCC 11-3 in game three and 17-2 in game four with both games ending in five innings.
“It was good to get multiple wins in a row. These will continue to come as we work harder each week and controlling our approach,” Smith said.
At the plate, the Eagles averaged 14.5 runs, 11.25 RBIs and almost 13 runs per game, while only allowing an average of three runs per game to Spartans.
Sophomores Rilee and Jaiden had nine hits in the series; Stookey also had six RBI’s and six stolen bases in the sweep.
McKenzie Dorney led the Eagles in home runs with two, including a walk-off two-run home run in game two.
In the circle, pitching for the Eagles, sophomore Levy led the Eagles with two wins while only giving up 10 hits, two earned runs and posted a 2.33 ERA.
Freshman Nyah Deryke pitched well for USU Eastern, picking up two wins and pitching in 11 innings and throwing six strikeouts.
“Our pitchers did well keeping the batters off balance and getting them to hit fly balls and grounders. All of them looked confident on the mound and when that happens the defense is more confident also,” Smith said.
The Eagles pulled off the sweep without key contributors who were dealing with injuries.
Freshmen Jordyn Fitch, Regan Bossow and Brianna Clarke each hit homeruns off the bench for the Eagles.
Those three stepped up for USU Eastern according to Coach Smith.
“Our whole team stepped up to make up for those that were hurt. We all hit the ball well but our bench came up big and stayed under control and did a good job. This whole weekend was a great team effort,” Smith said.
With four wins against CNCC, the Eagles are 10-13 and fourth in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, two games behind Snow.