Spring cleaning continues: ‘Cats sweep SUU

Raymond Lucas

Takesha Saltern slides home for the ‘Cats. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The Weber State University softball team continued to dominate in Big Sky Conference play, beating down the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in a three-game series sweep on April 5 and 6 in Ogden.

The victory marks the third straight conference sweep to start league play for WSU, which has now won eight straight games.

With the ‘Cats having found their stride, the scrappy T-Birds came looking to hand them their first conference loss. The Wildcats found themselves trailing in each contest but witnessed mid-game rallies to win all three.

Weber State’s offense was a sight to behold against SUU, scoring 19 runs throughout the weekend. The pitching also held its own against a tough Thunderbirds lineup that featured near .400 hitter Dream Weaver.

WSU swept a Friday doubleheader by final scores of 3–2 and 7–6. In each case, a fifth inning rally spurred the home team to victory. In the opener, freshman Faith Hoe delivered a clutch two-out, two-run double to give her squad the lead.

Her twin sister Lauren came through with the heroics in the nightcap, blasting a grand slam over the left-field wall for her first career homer, capping a five-run fifth.

Wildcats senior right-handed pitcher Addie Jensen played a large role in the SUU sweep. She entered from the bullpen in all three contests, notching a 2–0 record and one save. Jensen was named the Big Sky pitcher of the week after pitched 14 innings with nine strikeouts, without allowing a single earned run.

Jensen was appreciative of her team’s defensive efforts throughout the series.

“It keeps me calm, cool and collected in the circle knowing I have such great defense to back me up,” Jensen said.

The most eventful game in the series proved to be the Saturday high-noon finale. The contest started ominously for Weber State sophomore pitcher Kate Donaldson, who loaded the bases with no outs and then immediately surrendered a grand slam to T-Birds second baseman Kendall Kapitzke.

However, the ‘Cats then took full control, scoring nine unanswered runs and receiving even greater defensive contributions from its fleet center fielder.

With Weber now leading 6–4 in the top of the fourth inning, Jensen put two runners on base, and Weaver blasted a ball to dead center field that appeared poised to put SUU back in front. Junior Landi Hawker leapt over the fence, came down with the ball, delivering one of the most dramatic catches in Weber State history.

A photo of Hawker catching the ball was announced as the photo of the week by NCAA Softball after fans around the country participated in a poll.

Hawker made another leaping catch at the wall in the sixth inning to take away a double.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates talking to me. We practice it all the time, and it was just instinct,” Hawker said.

Hawker also came up with two hits in Saturday’s game. Freshman Brooke Moeai led the way with three hits, while Lauren Hoe drove in three runs.

The Wildcats were supposed to battle the Utah Valley Wolverines on April 9, but the game was canceled due to rain.

Weber State’s next test will be on the road in Pocatello against Idaho State. If the Wildcats sweep the three-game series from the Bengals on April 12 and 13, they would set a new program record winning streak with 11 victories in a row.

Landi Hawker, who pulled down two potential homeruns from the the Thunderbirds, rounds third. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)
Wildcat Faith Hoe slides home. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)
Thunderbirds celebrate after their first inning grand slam. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)