By Loren Miller, USU Eastern Sports Information:
PRICE – Utah State Eastern softball lost their home series against the Salt Lake Community College 4-0 on Friday and Saturday.
The Bruins won game one 8-0 and game two of 12-1 on Friday.
The Bruins dominated from the pitching circle on Friday behind the arm of Harley Wells. The Eagles batted .209 as a team and only scored one run combined in the doubleheader on Friday.
USU Eastern Head Coach Brittani Richins said that Friday’s performance contributed more to the team’s mindset going into the series than anything else.
“It was a lack of confidence by us and intimidation by Salt Lake because they played timid,” said Richins.
Before Saturday’s doubleheader, Coach Richins challenged her team and came up with a small with her team. If the Eagles would compete with the Bruins on Saturday then Richins promised that she would wear a bucket hat the next weekend series.
The Eagles rose to that challenge in game three on Saturday starting with a dominating first three innings where they drove in 10 runs.
Cassidy Howe and Shelby Shurtliff each hit a home run in the first inning to add four runs for the Eagles.
USU Eastern freshman Shelby Gnagy says that the team really wanted to show up strong because of their performance the day before.
“We were more comfortable with their pitchers and coming off the two games before we were upset with how we played the day before,” said Gnagy.
Up 10-4 in the fifth inning, the Eagles would allow the Bruins to slowly creep back into the game by giving up two runs in that inning and the sixth inning.
Salt Lake would come back in the seventh inning and score four more runs to take the game from the Eagles.
After the tough loss in game three, the Eagles would fall again to the Bruins in game four by a score of 16-8 despite another strong first two innings where they scored six runs.
At the plate, USU Eastern got help from the bats of Howe, Shurtliff and Ashley Sweat. They combined to hit 10 RBIs, three home runs, and nine runs.
“They all hit over .300, they put the ball in play in crucial moments and that is what was important,” said Richins.
Despite not getting a win against Salt Lake, Richins and Gnagy both believe that the way their team competed in the series will benefit them moving forward.
“It will help us be more confident in ourselves as individuals and that will help us trust each other,” said Gnagy.
Richins said the series against Salt Lake will help her team mentally when they go up against tough teams in the future.
“It helps them mentally, now they know they can play to that level and can compete with the higher teams in our region. They just got to believe that in themselves,” said Richins.
The Eagles now have an overall record of 9-9 with a 4-4 conference record.
They will hit the road this week to Henderson to take on the College of Southern Nevada with Richins wearing a bucket hat like she promised her team.