“We only gave up two runs and scored 18, you are going to win a lot of games doing that,” stated SUU head coach Kyle Magnusson. “We believe at the plate that we can score runs and score a lot of runs in a hurry.”
Senior pitcher Ariel Hart (4-6) tossed complete game shutout in the opener, striking out three batters over five innings as the Thunderbirds held an opponent scoreless for the first time this year. SUU got its bats going early with an RBI double from Kadi Henderson that brought home Sara Park in the first inning. Kelli Hales and Park both drove in runs in the second to stretch the advantage to 3-0.
Neilson hit another RBI double for Southern Utah and sophomore Kylee Wolf plated a pair of runs with a drive up the middle to make the lead 6-0 after four innings. Lyndsey Healey singled through the right side in the bottom of the fifth before Neilson hit a shot to left-center for a walk-off home run that set the final margin at 8-0.
Portland State picked up its first score in the opening frame of the day’s second contest with an RBI single from Aubrey Nitschelm. The Thunderbird offense continued to roll however, putting up four runs in the bottom half of the inning and then tacking on four more in the second to open up an 8-1 SUU lead. Healey and Neilson each hit a two-run double during the rally, while Henderson and Wolf also added to their RBI totals.
The Vikings got another run across in the fourth after Crysta Conn lifted a solo shot over the wall in left, but the T-Birds added two more of their own in the bottom of the fifth to clinch a second straight run-shortened contest by a final count of 10-2. Wolf drove in the first score with a single to left for her fourth RBI of the day and Madison Resley drew a walk-off walk with the bases loaded to end the game.
Katie Greenberg (3-4) and Jordan Theurer split time in the circle for the Thunderbirds, both allowing one run and recording one strikeout. Melissa Masters (1-4) lasted just 1.1 innings for the visitors and was charged with the decision after surrendering seven runs on seven hits.
Neilson accounted for nine of Southern Utah’s 18 runs on the day, driving in six and scoring three. The senior infielder went 4-6 at the plate with two doubles and a home run. Healey posted a perfect on-base percentage in five trips to the plate and Henderson also collected a pair of doubles.
“Meagan had a good day, Katie pitched well and everybody contributed,” commented Magnusson.
Portland State’s Karyn Wright (1-15) took the loss in the first game, and Nitschelm led the Vikings with two hits and one RBI during the doubleheader.
The Thunderbirds go for the series sweep as the two teams meet for a final time on Saturday in a game scheduled to get underway at 12:00 p.m. Coverage of SUU softball is available online at www.suutbirds.com.