OGDEN — Weber State Softball had allowed just five hits in all series against struggling Southern Utah as Mandy Sink took the circle for what — a cloudy, windy and cold Saturday that followed a Friday sweet – almost everyone except the SUU dugout was hoping to be the final three out of the final conference series between the two teams.
Trailing 8-0 in the fifth, two Thunderbirds reached base on a right single and a bunt single. After Sink struck out two, she walked a batter to load the bases.
Jayne Sepulveda then worked the full count, and a clean T-Birds shutout (plus some trivia from a school year) rolled down a pitch.
Sink stoked Sepulveda’s swing, his fifth strikeout of the game, and the Wildcats finished their second win of the series and three straight visitor shutouts.
Mandy Sink throws around first two singles and a walk, strikes out 3 and finishes it
Weber State softball sweeps SUU with an 8-0 victory. pic.twitter.com/C5OZosJ6mb
— WeberHQ ???? Brett Hein (@WeberHQ) April 9, 2022
Mariah Ramirez underscored the sweep in Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader with a record-breaking performance in the circle for Weber State (28-8, 6-0 Big Sky). The senior right-hander struck out a school-record 13 batters in six innings, then retired the team in the seventh.
That brought his total to 16, tying the Big Sky’s all-time record for strikeouts in a game, in a 6-0 win.
Despite bumps in the win-loss record, Southern Utah (3-29, 0-9) was coming off a three-game streak at Montana in which it averaged nine points per game. But Sink, Ramirez, Arissa Henderson and Brooke Hatfield all helped keep the Thunderbirds from home plate just once in 17 innings.
“Our pitching team really bonded. They help each other, they work tirelessly all week. And they’re very selfless,” WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “They feed off each other, they are happy for each other.”
Ramirez also came close to not hitting except for a dribbler between the circle and the two left infielders that resulted in a single for Sepulveda in the fourth. Ramirez retired the team in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings.
“It was an outstanding performance. I haven’t been part of that very often,” Amicone said. “She just ran the ball and did fantastic. Special.”
In Friday’s opener, Henderson pitched four shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out five, and Hatfield took over in the fifth, striking out one and facing the minimum to close out an 11 win. -0.
After Saturday’s victory, WSU became the only Big Sky team with an ERA below 3.00, dipping to 2.97 in 36 games, and batters hit a low of .242 against Weber State. Sacramento State staff have an ERA of 3.60 and Portland State allows a 0.255 average for second-best grades.
Much of the credit for that can also go to senior receiver Lauren Hoe, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year, for her work behind the plate.
“The funny thing is that it’s the same mindset for the catchers as it is for the pitchers,” Amicone said. “They work well together, all around. The rapport is great, the skills are great, and it’s just fun to watch them work together.
At plate, Emily Ruhl doubled twice and drove in three runs in Friday’s 11-0 win.
In Friday’s second game, Chloe Camarero doubled in two to open the scoring and scored twice in the 6-0 victory.
On Saturday, Henderson hit a three-run homer to make it 4-0 after two innings. Hoe and McKell McCuiston each made two runs, including one each late in the fourth (after a Camarero triple) to set the scoring rule for the start of the fifth.
The Wildcats continue conference play by hosting Montana (17-18, 5-4) the coming weekend, with a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 15 and Game 3 at noon on Saturday, April 16. These matches are also broadcast on ESPN+. .
The season is now two months old and one month remains, with four conference series remaining on the slate before Weber State hosts the May 11-14 conference tournament. Amicone said his team sticks to the mantra of improving 1% every day.
“We’re in the thick of it,” Amicone said. “We always have something to work on that will make us better. We have a lot of things we want to do before the end of this year. You better sit and think we’ve arrived, because we haven’t.
“I applaud them for their enthusiasm and work ethic, and we will continue to look after that.”
HIDE THE ‘BIRDS
It wasn’t just a softball series shutout on Sink’s full, bases-laden field to end Saturday’s win. That K swing capped a seven-game performance against Southern Utah in all four team sports where a shutout score is possible, sending the T-Birds floating out of the Big Sky.
In the fall, soccer wiped out SUU 62-0 and women’s soccer went on a 1-0 shutout. In the winter, volleyball recorded two 3-0 sweeps, and softball’s 11-0, 6-0, 8-0 shutouts this weekend capped the feat.
BIG SKY RANKING
Weber State (6-0) holds a two-game lead over Northern Colorado (4-2) and Sacramento State (4-2) in first place after UNCo lost Saturday in a home run in overtime at Portland State (5-4). PSU and Montana (5-4) are tied for fourth after sixth-place Idaho State (3-6) took two from the Griz over the weekend. SUU (0-9) is three games out of last place.