Softball loses to Aggies 6-1

As a blustery southern wind blew waves of dust across Ute Softball Field, Utah State’s Leslie Higley blew pitch after pitch past Ute batters, helping USU to a 6-1 win.

Powerful gusts even ripped the American flag from its moorings on the left-centerfield pole. Higley (7-10) remained unperturbed, striking out five Utes while holding them to one run on seven hits and a single walk. “It always takes us a little bit to catch up with her,” Ute head coach Mona Stevens said. “We finally started to at the end.”

The U managed five hits off Higley in the final two innings, but the Aggies managed to withstand the attack. Ute Ivette Hernandez hit a mortar shot to the warning track with two outs in the sixth to score Jackie Wong, but cleanup hitter Devina Quintero struck out to end the rally after putting just a single run on the board.

The Aggies took advantage of a rare erratic start from Brianna Gourdin and some questionable umpiring to jump to a 6-0 lead by the second. Aggie second baseman Quela Henderson-Leonhardt hit a three-run double in the second that swirled in the wind before dropping and confusing Aggie baserunners, who made contact on the base path.

Instead of awarding an out, the crew ignored the blunder. Home plate umpire Terry Balser also drew criticism for awarding first base to an Aggie batter after getting plunked by a Gourdin changeup (a pitch which batters can usually easily avoid). “Two umpiring errors led to a four-run difference,” Stevens said.

Gourdin only worked two innings, allowing all six runs on three hits, three walks, and two hit batsmen before Lindsie Nielsen came on for five sterling, no-hit innings in relief.

“Lindsie did a great job,” emphasized Gourdin, “She’s looked great lately.”

Nielsen was the lone bright spot for the Utes, striking out six Aggies, while conceding only one walk. As for Gourdin’s ineffectiveness, Stevens doesn’t have any answers.

“We’re really not sure why she’s struggling. She’s working really hard, and it has us puzzled because it’s not like her at all,” Stevens said.

Gourdin and the Utes will look to get back on track when they face Cal Riverside Friday at 3 p.m. at Ute Softball Field. This weekend they host conference opponents Colorado State and New Mexico in consecutive doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.

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