In run-rule fashion, Weber State softball wins 6th straight Big Sky regular season title | News, Sports, Jobs

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Weber State softball players lift lead Faith Hoe after Hoe hit a game-winning single to beat Sacramento State 8-0 to win the Big Sky regular season title on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at Wildcat Softball Field in Ogden.

ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State softball players lift a trophy after winning the Big Sky Conference regular season championship Saturday, April 30, 2022, at Wildcat Softball Field in Ogden.

ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State’s Arissa Henderson, left, head high-fives coach Mary Kay Amicone after hitting a home run against Sacramento State on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at Wildcat Softball Field in Ogden.

ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics

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OGDEN — Weber State second baseman Faith Hoe fouled a ball from the knee to go down in the 1-2 count.

Leading Sacramento State 7-0 in the fifth inning and with two runners on board Saturday afternoon, Weber State was one step away from ending the game via the run rule and, with one week still on the schedule, clinching a sixth back-to-back regular season Big Sky Conference Softball Championship.

But Hoe could barely stand. She barely left the immediate area surrounding home plate and leaned on her bat as she bent over in pain.

“Honestly, I thought I was going to get fired. It hurt so much,” Hoe said. “Once I kind of caught my breath, I thought I was fine…and at that time, let’s just finish this fight, let’s do it.”

Maybe there was something in the focus required to push past that pain and get back into the box. Or, maybe, as Hoe put it: it’s embarrassing to take a hit, need a break, and then strike.

So on the very next pitch, Hoe blasted a single out to left field. Shortstop Makayla Donahoo finished third and, although a short throw beat her home, slipped around on a scoring attempt, sending her Wildcat teammates out of the home dugout to celebrate the championship .

“It is Faith. She’s tough, knows what’s going on. His softball IQ is off the charts,” WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said. “She got into position to make solid contact and she did.”

Every regular season completed since 2016 now comes with a Weber State trophy, and five of them are outright championships for the Wildcats.

Not only was Sacramento State (25-23, 9-6 Big Sky) the last second-place challenger to step back after facing Weber State, but the Wildcats (35-10, 13-1) topped the three-game series. by an aggregate score of 20-4 and the Hornets scored in just one of 19 innings over the weekend.

After Friday’s results, the WSU entered Saturday knowing that winning meant lifting a trophy. Amicone credited his team’s focus and dedication to “process-oriented stuff” that built his program.

“We just wanted to do it at home. Last year we were able to do it at home too and this celebration with the fans and the trophy presentation is something we wanted to do again,” said Hoe. “But it was more about our seniors, make sure we win for them on seniors night and fire them properly.”

Senior pitcher Arissa Henderson threw a five-hit shutout, bringing her season high to 15-1 in the circle, striking out four and walking one. Henderson, Chloe Camarero, Brooke Moeai and Abi Sagert were honored after the match at a graduation ceremony.

“I was really proud of our team,” Hoe said. “One quality of a good team is that the other team is not playing well, we put so much pressure on them they throw the ball and I thought our base run was so good…and that takes the pressure off your strikes.

“Our team was just tough. Our defense was solid, our throws were great and we hit the ball well.

The Wildcats chased Sac State ace Marissa Bertuccio for the second time in the series, which was only delayed after Weber State left the bases loaded in the first inning.

McKell McCuiston hit a sack fly to score one in the first, and Henderson again came up with her bat for a solo shot to center field in the third inning for a 2-0 lead.

WSU beat Bertuccio in a five-run fourth that included RBI singles from McCuiston, Camarero and KC Whiting. And, for at least the third time in the series, an aggressive base run from a runner forced the Hornets to make a call with the ball when Hoe stole second, allowing Donahoo to drive home.

“Our culture is aggression. And I look at our elders standing here, with (Takesha Saltern) and Landi (Hawker), when they were on the program, we established that aggression,” Amicone said. “It’s part of what we do, and if it’s open, we take it.”

Sacramento State failed to get a runner past second base after the first inning, and two Henderson strikeouts in the top of the fifth helped set up Hoe’s game-winning swing in the bottom half.

Weber State ends the regular season with a three-game series at now-second-placed Portland State (26-16, 10-5) next week. With a title won, which means this season’s No. 1 seed and tournament hosting rights for 2023 are both secure, Amicone said nothing will change about the way WSU plays.

“It all comes back to what we believe in, and it gets 1% better every time we play. Just like today. Did we get better? We did,” Amicone said. are always different people in these timely running or hitting situations – so we just mind our own business, go to work and want to do our best when the best is needed.”

It’s also not like there’s nothing to play for at Portland State. At 35-10 overall — and with three wins over Mountain West’s top two teams and another over Texas A&M, for example — the Wildcats have a resume that could (should?) get them out of the No. 4 line. in a four-team NCAA Regional Tournament.

But that is looking too far. PSU has the best pitcher in the conference in Olivia Grey. It was his arm that propelled the Vikings to the tournament championship last year at Weber State, and it’s the same arm the Wildcats and everyone else will have to rely on in two weeks in Ogden. WSU went 0-2 and was quickly eliminated in the 2021 tournament.

“We always talk about the lessons we’ve learned, and there are some expensive ones and some not expensive ones. Last year was quite costly, it cost us at the end of the year,” Hoe said. “Almost everyone comes back and we remember that feeling. There was a time last year when…we just started to decline.

“This year, we are improving every day. We want to take care of business and win, but if we improve every day, we can come away knowing that we have achieved our goals. It is important that we are conference champions, but we want to be tournament conference champions.


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