ST. GEORGE — Some time during the first part of the second game between Dixie State and Cal Baptist, on another part of campus, guys in suits were announcing that the Red Storm nickname was officially being changed to the Trailblazers. Inauspiciously, DSU lost that second game, making Dixie State 28-10 on the year, but making the new “Trailblazers” 0-1.
Fortunately, there will other days and plenty more wins. DSU split the twinbill with the Lancers, keeping CBU’s two-game PacWest lead intact with 10 conference games remaining.
Dixie State 3, Cal Baptist 0
After losing the first two games Friday, DSU came back in the first game Monday and shut the Lancers out.
In the first inning, the Red Storm (their final game with the former moniker) put up two runs. Bassett, Gonzalez and Autumn Woodfall provided three singles out of the first four batters. Woodfall’s single scored Bassett. Mallory Paulson then reached on a throwing error to score Gonzalez.
The Storm added an insurance run in the sixth. Arista Honey’s double to right center scored Woodfall, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice.
“Arista is batting so well, especially in pressure situations,” said DSU coach Randy Simkiins. “We want to get her as many at-bats as we can.”
Aryn Feickert pitched a complete game to go to 16-4. She scattered five hits and struck out seven batters over seven innings. Offensively, the Storm only had four hits, but they made them count. The three in the first inning set up the two runs. And the fourth hit was Honey’s double for the final RBI.
Cal Baptist 5, Dixie State 4
Midway through Game 2, the announcement was made, changing the Dixie State Red Storm to the Dixie State Trailblazers.
With one out in the seventh and down 5-4 to Cal Baptist, the Trailblazers best hitter, Jessica Gonzalez, was at the plate. Janessa “Cheetah” Bassett was on third base, representing the tying run.
“Usually in that situation, we will try to squeeze Bassett home,” said Dixie State head coach Randy Simkins. “But with Jessica at the plate, we had a better chance of letting her hit away. Any hit in the outfield or ground ball anywhere except to the pitcher will score Bassett.”
After getting the count to 3-2, Gonzalez rapped a couple of hard hits foul. On her final pitch, she popped out to the pitcher.
“With two outs, their second baseman retreated deep,” said Simkins. “If she stays where she was (Bailey) Gaffin gets a hit by her to score Bassett.” The second baseman was able to field the grounder and get Gaffin at first for the final out and win the series against DSU, 3-1.
“We faced some very good pitching against CBU,” said Bassett. “They kept the pitches low, forcing a lot of ground balls. It was difficult getting solid hits against them.”
The Storm took an early lead. Honey’s second double of the day scored Woodfall in the second inning. The Lady Lancers tied the game up in the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, CBU put up four more to take a decisive 5-1 lead. Simkins replaced starter Brooklyn Beardshear with Feickert to face CBU catcher London Miller. Miller hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall.
“I pulled in Feickert because she had pitched well to (Miller) throughout the series,” said Simkins. “The umpire called her first pitch tight and would not give Feickert the outside corner. She had to bring it in and that gave Miller a much easier pitch to hit.” The home run knocked in three runs.
In the bottom of the inning, the Blazers got one back when a double from Dani Bartholf scored Beardshear, who had drawn a walk. However, DSU could not continue the rally and left runners stranded at second and third to end the inning.
After a scoreless sixth, the Blazers had one last chance to even the series in the seventh. Three consecutive singles by Kristie Johnson, Josey Hartman and Bassett scored the first run. Bartholf then hit a deep sacrifice to right field to score Hartman and advance Bassett to third to set up the final two batters.
With the split, the Blazers move to 28-10 overall and to 16-6 in conference play. They drop from a tie for first in the PacWest down to third behind Cal Baptist and Azusa Pacific. They are a half-game ahead of fourth place Concordia.
DSU plays Southern Utah University in a non-league game Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Cedar City. The Blazers will then travel to northern California next weekend to play Holy Names and Academy of Art in two doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Game time Saturday begins at noon Pacific Time.
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