The tournament follows a double-elimination format with the champion being decided on Saturday. Links for live video, audio and stats will be available online at www.suutbirds.com or at www.bigskyconf.com.
Seniors Madison Resley leads the Thunderbirds with a .389 batting average, 10 home runs and 42 RBI. Junior catcher Lyndsey Healey batted .447 and hit five doubles in conference play while sophomore outfielder Kylee Wolf checked in at .433 and racked up five home runs. Senior Ariel Hart anchors the SUU pitching staff with a record of 8-9 on a 5.88 ERA and holds a 6-2 mark against Big Sky opponents. The T-Birds rank second in the BSC with a team batting average of .302 and a .379 on-base percentage.
Idaho State came from behind to take both of its regular season meetings with the Thunderbirds, pulling away for a 10-3 win in the first matchup before edging SUU by a 3-2 score in the second game of their doubleheader. Freshman Kacie Burnett leads the Big Sky with a .449 average and 26 stolen bases. The Bengals feature the league’s top-hitting lineup with a group that bats .344 overall and has driven in 312 runs with 53 homers. Vicky Galasso has recorded 18 of those dingers, Terah Blackwell has hit 16 and both players have collected over 60 RBI. Sophomore pitcher Jessica Tolmie has upped her game as of late, compiling a record of 4-1 in the circle on a 2.16 ERA during conference play. Head coach Julie Wright is in her fourth season at ISU.
Sacramento State and SUU split a rained-shortened series during the regular season with the Thunderbirds claiming a 6-4 win the first meeting behind homers from Meagan Neilson and Madison Resley before the Hornets came out ahead in the second contest by a count of 6-3. The Hornets feature the league’s top pitching unit as junior Caitlin Brooks ranks first in the Big Sky on a 1.62 ERA, followed closely by Taylor Stroud at 1.75. The overall staff ERA of 2.22 leads the conference by nearly two full runs. Sophomore Sasha Marquiles leads the team at the plate with a .359 batting average and 22 RBI. Lori Perez is serving as the interim head coach at Sacramento State.
Northern Colorado hosted SUU in the two teams’ final series of the regular season. The Bears took a 9-1 victory in the first meeting and rallied for a 6-5 win in extra innings in the second contest before the the Thunderbirds ran away with the closing matchup by a count of 17-5. The team ranks second in the conference with a total of 246 RBI on 52 home runs. Junior Mikayla Duffy has driven in 47 RBI while batting .384 and freshman infielder Erica Dick has homered 10 times for 39 RBI. Senior Megan Wilkinson leads the UNC pitching staff with a record of 12-15 on a 4.57 ERA. Head coach Shana Easley is in her second season in Greeley.
2013 BIG SKY TOURNAMENT RECAP
Southern Utah advanced to the final round of the inaugural Big Sky Tournament last season where it fell to Portland State in the championship game by a score of 4-0. The Thunderbirds started the week with an 8-0 loss to the Vikings but bounced back to knock-off Sacramento State, 5-4, and Idaho State, 5-1, in two straight elimination games to reach the final. SUU returners Ariel Hart and Kylee Wolf were both selected to 2013 Big Sky All-Tournament Team along with former T-Birds Mikkel Griffin and Katie Olinger.
The winner of the Big Sky Conference Tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals which are scheduled to take place on May 15, 16.
BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Madison Resley, a senior from Salina, Kan., was named the Big Sky Player of the Week for the second time this season after recording four hits during Southern Utah’s series at Northern Colorado, three of which were home runs with the fourth going for a double. The senior infielder posted a .364 batting average in the three-game set with a 1.273 slugging percentage and a team-high seven RBI. Resley hit a three-run shot on Friday in a game that saw Northern Colorado use a late rally to claim a 6-5 win in extra innings. She then followed up with two more homeruns for four RBI as SUU posted a season-high 17 runs for a victory over the Bears on Saturday to retake the third seed heading into the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
Resley also received the honor on Feb. 25 after batting 8-16 for a .500 average as Southern Utah picked up a pair of wins over Nevada and Grand Canyon at the GCU Invitational.
She hit two home runs in Phoenix to post a .875 slugging percentage to go along with a .579 obp.
Southern Utah’s Meagan Neilson was named the Softball Player of the Week by the Big Sky Conference on April 7 after batting 4-8 for a .500 average during a three-game sweep of Portland State. She posted a 1.125 slugging percentage against the Vikings after hitting her third home run of the year, along with a pair of doubles for a total of 6 RBI.
BIG SKY PRESEASON POLL
Southern Utah was picked third for a second consecutive season in the preseason coaches poll released by the Big Sky Conference, picking up one first-place vote. Idaho State earned the top spot after being voted number one by five coaches and Sacramento State came in second while also receiving a first-place nod. Portland State was selected fourth, followed by Northern Colorado in fifth with Weber State and North Dakota rounding out the bottom of the poll.