Utah State softball tops Boise State in walk-off win Sunday (with photo gallery)

LOGAN, Utah – A walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning secured an 8-7 win for Utah State softball Sunday, as the Aggies completed a series sweep over Boise State for the second-straight season.

Senior first baseman Libby Pederson helped the Aggies to the win as she blasted the last hit over the center field fence. Earlier in the game, junior third baseman Victoria Saucedo had her 12th home run of the season, tying the single-season school record set by junior Alleyah Armendariz last season. With the two in today’s game, Utah State has tallied 42 home runs this season, which sets a new program record. The previous record of 40 was set by the 2015 team. Another heavy hitter, senior outfielder Sarah Chow tied the single-season triples record with a three-base hit Sunday, her 12th of the season. She is now tied for second on the Utah State career triples list with 11.

“This was a really crucial win for us just to keep our momentum going. Getting the sweep was important, but the bigger part of it was the comeback,” said Utah State head coach Steve Johnson. “We had one bad inning, but we didn’t stop. Our thoughts and our attitudes were all about coming back. It’s another step in our process of understanding how to win these kind of games.”

Utah State utilized three pitchers in Sunday’s action, where senior Noelle Johnson made the start. After throwing 4.2 innings, freshman Katie Schroeder entered in relief. Armendariz then took over in the circle to earn her second win of the weekend. The three combined to strike out six batters while walking five and allowing 10 hits.

With the win, Utah State improves to 22-20 on the season with a 8-7 Mountain West record, while Boise State falls to 12-31 overall and 4-11 in conference action with the loss. This is USU’s second series sweep over a Mountain West opponent this season.

The game started quickly Sunday, as both teams were retired in order in the first inning. Boise State came out strong in the second though, scoring first in the top of the second. Leading off the inning with a double to left field, the runner then scored on a single up the middle. Utah State was unable to answer the Broncos until the bottom of the third inning, when the Aggies took the 2-1 lead. After two quick outs, sophomore outfielder Jazmin Clarke earned the first hit of the day for USU on a short infield single. She then scored on Chow’s triple, putting the Aggies on the board. With Chow on third, Johnson was hit by a pitch and the two executed a double steal to put Utah State on top.

The Aggies continued to hold off the Broncos, allowing just one hit between the third and fourth innings. Utah State then extended its lead when Saucedo’s out-of-the-park hit to left field also brought in Mia Maher, pinch running for Pederson. After Pederson walked, Maher entered and quickly stole second base, advancing to third on a Boise State throwing error.

The fifth inning was the biggest of the day for Boise State, as it added six runs on five hits. Despite one early out, the Broncos earned three-straight singles. With the bases loaded, a groundout allowed time for a runner to cross the plate. A walk then loaded the bases once again, as Boise State went back in the lead on a grand slam from Makenzie Sullivan. The Broncos weren’t done yet, as a bases-loaded walk forced in one more run.

In the bottom of the inning, Utah State started to chip away at the damage caused by the Boise State offense. Clarke scored her second run of the day on a single from Armendariz, as the Aggies tallied three hits in the bottom of the fifth. The USU defense made quick work of the Broncos in the top of the sixth, retiring the lineup in order.

Utah State was able to tie the score once again in the bottom of the sixth. Saucedo was first on base with a walk, while freshman catcher Bailey Lewis and junior designated player Paxton Provost added back-to-back base hits. In to pinch hit, junior catcher Sydney Hart also singled, scoring Saucedo from third. Johnson then reached base on a fielder’s choice, as the Broncos made the out at second, giving Lewis time to run home for the tying run.

After Boise State was unable to capitalize on its offense in the top of the seventh, the Aggies opened their half of the inning looking for the walk-off score. Pederson went to a 2-1 count in her at-bat before blasting the ball over the center field fence for the Utah State victory.

“We knew their pitch pattern and knew they weren’t going to come inside unless she got behind in the count. In Libby’s previous at-bat, she’d looked at three strikes right in the same spot. It was the same pitch from before, but this time she made the adjustment,” Steve Johnson said. “It was a great job by her to be more aggressive in this at-bat.”

Utah State doesn’t get much time off, as the Aggies return to LaRee & LeGrand Johnson Field to host Colorado State on Monday, April 25. USU will host the Rams in a make-up doubleheader beginning at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. The series will conclude on Tuesday, April 26, in an 11:30 a.m. game.

Fans can follow the Aggie softball program on Twitter, @USUSoftball, on Facebook at /USUSoftball or on Instagram, @ususoftball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter, @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and on Instagram, @USUAthletics.

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